Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Is Comcast/Xfinity Blacking Out Games They Shouldn't Be?

My understanding is that the current contracts with MLB for TBS and most ESPN telecasts no longer allow national games to be blacked out in the local markets. While ESPN carries an exclusive for its Sunday Night Baseball, its regularly scheduled Monday and Wednesday night telecasts, though not exclusive, are also now able to be shown within the local markets.

Yet, it seems that Comcast's Xfinity Cable has been ignoring this of late, at least in certain markets. These markets include Chicago. For example, this past Sunday's TBS telecast of the Cardinals and Cubs was blacked out on Xfinity systems in the Chicago area. Last Wednesday (9/16), the ESPN Wednesday Night Baseball telecast between the Cubs and Pirates was blacked out from ESPN. 

In both instances, the Cubs games were being televised locally by Comcast SportsNet Chicago. How about that? The network, which just happens to be partially owned and fully operated by the company which owns the cable system, just happens to be the only source airing a local team's game.

This is not to slight the local telecast, in this case. CSN does an excellent job all around. However, there are some fans who, for whatever reason, prefer the national telecast. Other fans might want to get the national perspective on their favorite team, whether for an entire game or even a couple of innings. They should have that choice. Especially when the league contract calls for it.

Chicago appears to be one of several cities where this (local games blacked out) has been happening when it shouldn't be, according to unconfirmed reports I have received. Since I have not been able to confirm these other cities, I'll stick with what I know for sure.

Consumers pay a lot of money for these channels, often when they don't even watch some of them. They should be entitled to every program and event the channels they are paying for are showing.  When two channels are showing the same event, the paying customers should be able to choose which one they wish to watch, or be able to switch around.

Baseball fans everywhere continue to mourn the passing of Milo Hamilton late last week at the age of 88. Not every baseball fan knew the name right away. But they all know "There's a new home run champion of all time, and it's Henry Aaron!!", perhaps his most identified call. Milo wound up in the right place at the right time on several occasions. He joined the Braves for their first season ever in Atlanta. He was with the Pirates during the "We Are Family" 1979 World Series season. And his many years in Houston were capped off by his being able to call the Astros' only trip to the World Series in 2005. Hamilton was definitely in the right place at the right time for us long time baseball fans. He was on the air.

The NFL ratings game continues to be amazing. CBS hit the jackpot on Thursday (9/17) when its first Thursday Night Football telecast (along with NFL Network) became its highest rated Thursday Night Football telecast ever. (Granted, it's the start of season two.)

Sunday's Green Bay vs. Seattle telecast on NBC was the most watched Week 2 game since 1991, and that '91 telecast was with Dallas taking on Washington.

ESPN Radio has announced its revised weekday schedule. As suspected, the August auditions of some of the hosts from its various big market owned and operated stations were an exercise in promotion only. It is official that "The Right Time" with Bomani Jones will air from 4 to 7 PM ET (moving up from its evening slot), starting next week (9/28). From 7 to 9 PM ET, ESPN Radio will air "Jalen & Jacoby", hosted by NBA analyst Jalen Rose and David Jacoby, known from his work at Grantland.

The timing is good in the sense that NBA training camps will open within days of this show beginning, which is clearly Jalen Rose's expertise. The network clearly hopes he can build up enough of a following by the end of June to maintain a following through the summer of 2016.

LOS ANGELES: While Time Warner Cable continues to refuse to give in on its price demands and the majority of Dodgers fans continue to go without telecasts, the impact is hitting home even harder this week. TWC has begun layoffs of personnel and cutbacks in its support programming of the Dodgers, as well as the Lakers.

No more "Dodgers Clubhouse" and "Larry King At Bat", among others, will soon vanish. Have to wonder if this will cost them any subscribers from among those few who actually get the Dodgers channel.

CHICAGO: Even with the Bears starting off at 0-2 and expectations of a disaster of the season, the unending hype still hasn't stopped. WSCR 670 The Score insists on its "Monday wrap-up" of every (Sunday) game to the point of moving part of it to online only. The station aired a make-up game on Monday (9/21) afternoon between the White Sox and Tigers. Therefore, the station went as far as keeping their regular hosts online only during the game broadcast in order to continue their discussion of the previous day's Bears loss. As if fans must know that "Steve from the north side" thinks "the team needs a new secondary". Way to tell listeners that what they have on the air isn't worthwhile enough.

As a follow up on last week's report about many Fox stations not airing the additional hour of NFL pregame programming on Sunday mornings, it should be noted that Fox has moved "Fox NFL Kickoff" to sister station WPWR-TV 50 at 10 AM CT each Sunday. By doing so, the network show competes against two local pre-game shows, including "Bears Game Day Live", which air at the same time on WFLD-TV, which airs all of the Fox programming.

St. LOUIS: No surprise here, as the Cardinals and KMOX 1120 have expanded their contract with a "multi-year extension". The team will actually continue to produce the broadcasts. Mike Shannon, John Rooney, and Mike Claiborne continue as the broadcast team.

TULSA: KTUZ 1270 has moved its Spanish programming to the lesser KZLI 1570 and picked up a simulcast of "The Franchise", which is Oklahoma City's KRXO 107.7 sports radio. Industry reports also have KZLI in the process of adding 107.9 FM to the simulcast, which is licensed to Broken Arrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How could you publish a weekly sports blog and not mention Boston? Good job actually.... finally!