Satellite Dish Owners Can Finally Watch Phillies Games


Yesterday Phillies fans learned of a broadcasting bombshell: Gary Matthews and Chris Wheeler will be out as Phillies broadcasters, thanks to the new television deal the Phillies signed with Comcast Sportsnet and NBC Universal.   But, another tidbit that looms large when unnoticed yesterday: those with satellite television will no longer be blocked from Phillies games, Kevin Cooney of the Bucks County Courier Times notes:

However, there is a caveat: the two sides do need to agree to a deal.  Directv, Dish Network, AT&T Uverse or any other carrier and Comcast Sports Net would have to agree to purchase the channel first:

Current laws mandated that the channel be offered to only cable providers that are wired.  That is why Verizon Fios could offer the channel when Directv could not.  So, Comcast retained for itself an advantage by not offering its own channel to satellite providers.   Currently, Houston's Comcast Sports Net affiliate 

I worked as a Sales Counselor at Circuit City for many years, and when HDTV was getting going, Directv was the first option for high definition programming.   But even as Comcast began offering high definition, one thing kept me from many sales: Comcast Sports Net.  Customers were frequently interested in purchasing Directv until they learned they could not watch the Phillies, Sixers, or Flyers.  It would behoove Directv to come to an agreement, as their sales would skyrocket in the Philadelphia market.

But, in Houston, the two companies are not necessarily getting along.  In November, Directv, Dish Network, and AT&T Uverse refused to air the channel, even as a free preview:

Dish Network said Friday it has declined an offer by Comcast SportsNet Houston that would have allowed to carry the channel free of charge through mid-December.

DirecTV and AT&T U-verse also have declined the offer made by CSN Houston, the Rockets-Astros-Comcast partnership that is available to about 40 percent of the Houston area’s 2.2 million TV households. The offer would have allowed fans to see about 20 Rockets games through Dec. 15 while carriers decided whether to agree to longer-term carriage agreements.

“It is Dish’s practice to refrain from offering programming unless a long-term agreement is in place; anything less falls short of our customer service commitment,” a spokeswoman for the company said.

Comcast Sports Net in other markets was offered by Directv back in the early 2000s when I was working in sales, namely Baltimore, so there is at least some history of two groups coming together for a deal.  It sounds like the Phillies may have demanded that the channel be offered to satellite channels if they were going to do a deal, much like how CSN mandated that they hire a new color commentator for Phillies broadcasts.

Provided the two sides can work out a deal, this would create more options for Phillies fans.

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