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SPORTO: The Life Comcastic

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sportsguycropped.thumbnail.jpgBY MIKE WOLVERTON SPORTS GUY The Phading Philthies have lost 5 of the last 6, but are still in the race as we head down the stretch. Just last week things seemed so good. The four game sweep over the Mets was Amazing, especially the late inning heroics in the final contest. I’m not even a Phillies fan, but seeing the Mets lose is sweet. Too bad I missed the whole thing.

Fuck You, Comcast!

Now, I love baseball. I pay $159 per season for the MLB Extra Innings package on DirectTV. That means I get virtually every major league game. Except the Phillies. I can never see the Phillies because their games are “blacked out”. Baseball’s blackout rules were created to keep the stadiums full. The thinking was that if the game was on local TV, people wouldn’t go to the park. Please ignore the fact that Rangers and Astros games are blacked out in El Paso, Texas, a 9-hour drive from Dallas and over 10 from Houston. Ain’t nobody from El Paso drivin’ that long for a game, but baseball classifies El Paso as “local market” for both teams, and rules are rules. It turns out that some fans in Iowa are considered “local market” for no fewer than six major league teams, and suffer blackouts from each. Maybe I’m one of the lucky ones…

A little research shows that this is an MLB policy, one they have been slow to address. They might soon, when they see their idiotic rules are costing them money in the form of fewer sales of their MLB.TV product (the same as my satellite package, but on a computer). If this whole thing is MLB’s fault, maybe I’ll have to rescind that “Fuck You” for Comcast. And baseball’s blackout problem really only affects fans that arecomcastic234.jpg within MLB’s definition of a “local market” but are too far away from that market to get the local stations. For most of the country, it doesn’t matter if the Extra Innings package gives them a blackout, they can watch on the local channel. But in a few markets (i.e. Philadelphia), the owners of the broadcast rights (Comcast) have refused to allow DirecTV to negotiate a deal to carry the local station. You can guess why…they don’t want people on DirecTV, they want them to have Comcast Cable, and their strategy is to deny fans local sports programming to get them to quit DirecTV. Virtually every other Comcast RSN (Regional Sports Network) has reached a deal with DirecTV, but not Philly.

“So get Comcast and quit whining,” you say? I can’t. I need DirecTV for the NFL Sunday Ticket, which is an exclusive to DirecTV (which is bullshit in and of itself). If I didn’t have Sunday Ticket, I’d be stuck watching whatever single game the network showed me on Sunday, and I can’t live like that. “You aren’t even a Phillies fan, so get over it”, you say? Ahh, but I am a Flyers fan and Comcast screws me on that one, too. Why can’t Comcast just do a deal with DirecTV like they have everywhere else and stop sticking it to Philly fans?

Until I get a damn good answer, Comcast, the Fuck You stands.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Wolverton spent two seasons as the play-by-play broadcaster for the Atlantic City Surf and has also had stints as an official scorer, public address announcer and two years as a hockey broadcaster. This year he is play-by-play announcer and official scorer of his newborn son. In between, he will be writing about sports for Phawker.

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One Response to “SPORTO: The Life Comcastic”

  1. Nick Says:

    The reason other CSNs have reached deals with DirecTV is because they forced to by the Telecommunications Act. It’s the same reason Turner must provide all of it’s channels (CNN, TNT, etc) to DirecTV and Comcast must do it with all of the channels they own. There IS however a loophole that if a station owner/cable provider sends the station to all its franchises via a land-based signal, then they dont have to provide it to anyone else. There are very few channels that people would care about that fall under this, but CSN is in fact one of them. Comcast sends most of the channels out to its franchises via satellite but NOT CSN-Philly. It sends the signal over land and so it is allowed to not provide it to DirecTV. Since comcast doesnt control the infrastructure as well in the other areas, they dont bother doing this in other areas.
    I thought I saw somewhere that DirecTV penetration in the Philly is about a third less than everywhere else.

    I may have these facts wrong, but this is the situation as I understand it.

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