Friday, April 22, 2005

A Bad Case Of Mono’

What happens when one government regulated monopoly that’s grown far too big for its multi-billion dollar britches meets an unregulated Supreme-Court-approved monopoly and its bulldog-headed shyster?

That’s right. Nats fans get kneecapped.

--Eric Fisher in the Times
--Thomas Heath in the Post
--42-time Emmy Award Winner Jim Williams in the Examiner (and probably in his pajamas)

Comcast is suing MLB and Havana Pete, echoing the cable wars that prevented trillions of New Yorkers from seeing the Yankees on the YES network, Al Yankzeera.

Comcast contends that their contract allows them the right to match any Orioles TV offer and that the MASN deal circumvents that right.

As a result, Comcast definitely won’t be carrying MASN in the short-term, nor probably for the long-term either. And, apparently, it’s fouled-up the MASN negotiations with Direct TV.

The key with this issue, as it was with the YES/CableVision negotiations in NY is to completely ignore what both sides have to say. Neither of them, no matter what they say, has your interests at heart. They want the maximum return for their particular companies, and if that involves hiring raving hordes of barbarians to come pillage your house for valuables, so be it.

Comcast is just trying to protect its investment in Comcast SportsNet. Whether that means they want to retain control over the Orioles, or they want a piece of MASN, it doesn’t matter. They just want to be in the ballgame and in the MASN deal, Angelos, in effect, picked up the ball and went home.

Comcast Executive Vice-Weenie in Chief David Cohen, in a prime example of why you can’t listen to these people, says he’s thinking of the fan’s first, (And not his bazillion dollar company, nor his expense account, I’m sure) "In addition, we are concerned about the impact on our customers of a $2 to $3 a month 'Angelos tax' that would be imposed as a result of MASN's creation

Gee, thanks for looking out for us. This is pandering of the most pathetic kind. And, not having read the BPG forum, I suspect it’ll work. Angelos is a scumbag, but labeling the rights fees an Angelos tax is shifting the blame from the real issues to a man who’s so despised, he’d probably receive fewer votes for DC Mayor than Joseph Goebbels.

Airing MASN was never in the best interest of Comcast. As the regional monopoly, they were under little pressure to air the games, even with the threat of Direct TV. I mean, how many people would actually switch providers for a team that doesn’t yet have a rabid fanbase? Factor in how many people, like me, who can’t even get DTV, and Comcast wouldn’t be sweating at night.

It would make sense for Comcast to be involved in the ownership or production of the games. They’ve got an established presence in most cable systems now and their game productions are excellent. (Compare it to the old Os TV or current MASN games that have 4 cameras and look like they’re about the same quality as the ones you used to film Aunt Betsy’s birthday party last week.)

Ultimately, I’m sure that that’s where it’s headed. But, it’ll be a long time, probably, before these two behemoths slow dance.

In the meantime, MLB.TV continues to not blackout Nats games. If you’re a shmuck like me, it’s worth the $14.95. And you can even go back and watch Guzman’s mudball over and over and over again.


  • Not only do the Orioles have more cameras, all of the home games and some of the away games are broadcast in HDTV, which beats the hell out of watching the hand-cranked cameras the Nats get on UPN.

    But this just sucks, anyway. You hit the nail on the head - damn cable company monopoly. I live in a condo and can't get DirectTV or I would already have it.

    Is it possible for both sides to lose in the upcoming ComCast vs. Angelos court battle? I volunteer to pull the switch on both of them.

    By Blogger Brian, at 4/22/2005 12:37 PM  

  • In addition, if you've got Comcast, get ready for a price hike in '06 anyway, when MNF goes to ESPN.

    I think some of us should just do unauthorized broadcasts. Who's in?

    By Blogger Basil, at 4/22/2005 1:58 PM  

  • Good point on the ESPN-created rate hike.

    When they got the Sunday night contract on their own, instead of slittping with TNT, they jacked the rates up then too.

    That's also when they started commercializing everything. It started with the relatively unobtrusive PowerAde ads before and after SportsCenter, then quickly went to hell.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/22/2005 1:59 PM  

  • Go au natural -- I've got neither cable nor DirecTV. That said, since Comcast is my only choice in Alexandria, if I get anything, it'll be DirecTV.

    If you're in Fairfax County, Cox Cable has better service and is cheaper than Comcast.

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/22/2005 2:50 PM  

  • Geez... why don't you just ask me to use the outhouse out back too, while you're at it? :)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/22/2005 2:54 PM  

  • This coming from a guy who doesn't own a cell phone. I'd be shocked if you didn't churn your own butter.

    By Blogger Brian, at 4/22/2005 3:26 PM  

  • I was waiting for someone to chip in with that!

    And so what about the butter? MMMM! That sweet, sweet buttery goodness!

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/22/2005 3:27 PM  

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