Back in 1957 I watched my first World Series game, Yankees vs. Milwaukee Braves, on my neighbor’s television. I was just starting first grade, and it was the first time I had sever seen a color TV.
Over more than five decades since then, I’ve followed the World Series in several different ways. In grammar school, I sneaked my transistor radio into class and listened to the Yankees play what at that time seemed like an endless line of Series games in the 50s and 60s. In high school, I faked illness on more than one occasion to watch the Fall Classic. October fever.
When I was in college, the first World Series night game was played, Game 4 of the 1971 World Series, Pirates 4, Orioles 3. Beginning in 1988 to the present, all World Series games have been played at night. Much easier to watch.
Heck, I even went to Yankee Stadium and see the Yankees beat the Padres in 1998 and the Braves (by now based in Atlanta) on their way to back-to-back, four-game sweeps.
All that changed in 2010 with the Cablevision vs. FOX dispute in the New York metropolitan area. Some of you may have heard about this. Three million customers deprived of the World Series on FOX while these clammy-handed greedmeister conglomerates quibbled over millions.
Well the dispute was resolved Saturday in time for Game Three of the World Series. But in the meantime, sports viewers were denied NFL football (primarily the New York Football Giants), the NLCS, and the first two games of the World Series.
If the dispute had gone on longer it would have threatened Super Bowl XLV, which will be broadcast on FOX on February 6. No guarantees when it involves Cablevision disputes. In 2002, Cablevision held Yankee fans hostage for an entire season when they refused to carry the YES Network.
At least Cablevision tried this time. They offered to go to binding arbitration, and gave Cablevision viewers a freebie. They agreed to cover the cost of a of $9.95 subscription for the MLB Network’s online World Series broadcast with a $10 rebate on your bill. You even make a nickel on the deal.
That’s great. But trying to watch the World Series on a laptop — even a good laptop — ain’t exactly HDTV on a big flat screen. And instead of getting the broadcast feed from FOX, what viewers get is a choice of camera angles. Sounds good, but try following the play once the ball is hit.
As a backup, I go to a site for links to sports broadcasts and programming my son sent me awhile back. Here you set the World Series in some form or other — including an ESPN America feed — with Gary Thorne and Rick Sutcliffe announcing instead of FOX’s Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. You need to reboot every inning and a half or so, but at least you can follow the game….kinda.
Never ever envisioned these kinds of problems back in 1957. Thank goodness for the World Wide Web.
A friend recently told me that in a war between a broadcast network and a cable operator, there are no good guys to root for.
Add to that the good guys are the viewers…..the victims.
So while FOX (News Corp) and Cablevision negotiate over retransmission rights, more than three million Cablevision subscribers in the New York metropolitan area missed the Giants-Lions game. Cablevision also has subscribers in Connecticut and New Jersey, some of whom are missing the Eagles-Falcons game on FOX.
Those Philadelphia fans must have been really happy last night when the NLCS game between the Phillies and the Giants was blacked out.
World Series Blackout
If this dispute lasts any longer, Cablevision subscribers are going to miss the World Series, which starts next week.
Who’s to blame? Cablevision claims that FOX is doubling its fees from $70 million to $150 million (a difference that rivals the $60 million that the Knicks, owned by Cablevision, have paid deadbeat Eddy Curry to sit on the bench).
Don’t think Cablevision is any innocent party either. Earlier this year a dispute with the Walt Disney Company and ABC culminated in a 20-hour outage which ended during the Academy Awards.
And Yankee fans will recall 2002, when Cablevision refused to carry the YES Network for an entire season before New York State stepped in and negotiated a temporary deal. Cablevision had attempted to purchase the Yankees in 1998 and carried the team’s games on MSG Network until YES came on air that year. So Cablevision retaliated by keeping Yankee fans in the dark for a full year.
Cablevision has said it would admit to binding arbitration to decide the latest dispute, but FOX says no. The companies have had months to negotiate, but they haven’t been able to agree on a price.
So now the fan suffers.
It turned out to be an old-fashioned Sunday for many older New York Giants fans, who recall the NFL home TV blackouts of the 50s and 60s and listening to Marty Glickman broadcast the games on the radio.
For those fans with computer access, here’s a link that allowed me to watch Giants-Lions on my computer. It’s not exactly big screen, high-definition, but it let’s you see the game.
However, the signal does drop every now and again to search for the channel. Yep, Cablevision is my wireless provider too. Isn’t that special.
In a flashback to the “Heidi Game” nearly 40 years ago, FOX 5 in New York pulled the plug on a one-run Yankee-Red Sox game with two outs in the ninth, switching over to NASCAR.
Hey Fox, here’s a news flash — there are more baseball fans than exhaust circuit fans in New York. The FOX swap makes sense in Darlington and Daytona and lots of other places south of here, but not in New York. Not in Boston either. Can’t quite see the Quincy 500 going over big in Massachusetts.
Sure, FOX put the game on FX, as if it’s on the sportslifer’s speed dial remote. By the time I stumbled upon FX, the game was over. Are you kidding me?
The Heidi game made fame in 1968, when NBC pulled the plug on a Raiders-Jets clash in 1968 for Heidi, the charming Swiss girl and title character of Johanna Spyri’s 1880s children’s tale.
Since the Raiders railled to beat the Jets with two touchdowns, the Heidi game came to be known as the “Greatest Game Never Seen.”
NBC president Julius Goodman released a statement 90 minutes after the game, calling the incident “a forgivable error committed by humans who were concerned about children expecting to see Heidi. … I missed the end of the game as much as anyone else.”
Oh yeah, in case you were wondering, the Red Sox won, 4-3. Missed the end of that game too. Thanks to FOX.