What choice does the Fox-Cablevision dispute leave us?By
It just plays over and over and over again…
I wrote this up for FanGraphs, but the subject is closer to us, since a good lot of us live within the Cablevision coverage area. Since October 16 we’ve been without Fox, which normally is no big deal. If the network has a show I want to watch, I can visit one of many websites that will stream it to my computer. The only problem is the timing. Fox pulled its programming on the day the NLCS began, meaning I’ve already missed an important series — though I have to say that San Francisco’s radio team of Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow made it a little easier on me. But starting today the stakes are a bit higher.
Today begins the greatest sporting event on the planet. The nation might not be enthralled by a Texas – San Francisco match-up, but I sure am. I can’t wait to watch Cliff Lee pitch against Tim Lincecum, to see if the Texas offense, to hope that San Francisco can string together some hits — or that Cody Ross can further his folk hero status. Unfortunately, I’ll have to find a non-traditional way to watch the action; my cable company and the station carrying the World Series are in a fight.
Neither Fox nor Cablevision would be anywhere without people who pay for their services. Yet how do they treat us? Like we don’t matter. Fox and Cablevision don’t care that they’re taking the World Series away from die-hards. They just want the greatest possible amount of money — Fox by demanding a higher fee for its services, and Cablevision by enforcing the status quo. Lost in the squabble is the consumer that pays his cable bill and watches commercials.
I’ve been told that I should just buy a pair of cheap rabbit ears and pick up the Fox signal that way. The picture is better than your cable HD, they say. But when I went into Radio Shack last night the salesman basically refused to sell me a pair of rabbit ears. They don’t work well in this area. I trust the guy, because he was basically turning away a sale — because he knew I’d be back today to return it, and it costs the company money to process a return. I could buy an amplified HD antenna, but that starts at $60. I could write that off on my taxes, I suppose, but that’s still $60 that I’m paying because the ~$140 per month I pay for cable and internet isn’t enough to get me the World Series.
As it stands, I have a good mind just to cancel my cable altogether and buy those more expensive rabbit ears. I could then get sports on the major networks and watch my cable programming online — it helps that my computer easily hooks up to my TV. I also have a PS3 and can therefore watch anything from Netflix on my TV as well. The PS3 also has a beautiful MLB.tv plugin. That covers pretty much everything — except the most important thing.
I’m stuck with cable because of the Yankees. Gaining access to YES every night without a cable subscription is probably easy, but not something of which I want to make a habit. And so I’m left with a choice:
1) Purchase rabbit ears that will be pointless once Fox and Cablevision come to an agreement.
2) Purchase Postseason.tv, which doesn’t provide a full view of the game.
3) Listen again on the radio — which will be a difficult endeavor in Game 4, when I’m scheduled to write a recap for ESPN Insider.
4) Go to a bar, which will be unkind to my wallet.
5) Find a feed line, which is illegal.
Switch to Verizon FiOS. Damn. FiOS isn’t hooked up in my building and the building manager hasn’t made that a priority.
In other words: Thanks, Fox and Cablevision, for leaving me with six distinctly shitty World Series viewing options. I pay my bills, and I watch my commercials (at least during sporting events). Yet this is the way I’m treated.