Watching the World Series on the Web

goatA dispute between Rupert Murdoch of News Corp (FOX) and James Dolan of Cablevision deprived millions of seeing the first two games of the World Series.

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.

Dispute Resolved
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.


2 Comments on “Watching the World Series on the Web”

  1. barb darrow says:

    Hey Rick. Being a comcast subscriber in boston, i was irked but not infuriated by the Fox-CableVision fiasco. THEN i went to the North Fork of Long Island where we watched the last yankees-Rangers game on TNT friday nite and fully expected to see the NLCS on Saturdaynight. Whoops! So bought the MLB package and we watched sat nite. But you’re right, the camera angle thing was tricky plus there was latency etc… I still want to know tho, which was the bigger asshole–FOX or Cablevision?

    • sportslifer says:

      Hey Barb, both of the big guns were at fault — and usually Cablevision is the culprit — but in this case FOX was holding out for a reported $150M, or 2X the previous retransmission fee. In the end, you can bet that Cablevision subscribers will foot that ball.

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