What choice does the Fox-Cablevision dispute leave us?

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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.

6) 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.

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  • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

    Don’t think I didn’t read that Nick Johnson article.

    • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

      Those tricksters. I read it too.

      • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

        It will return at 9:30. Don’t worry.

    • James

      I think it is about time we stand together as a united front to face both cablevision and news corp. I signed the petition posted here: http://iwantmytvback.com let’s get a massive group to ask for our shows back!

  • Adam B.

    And furthermore, it appears that Cablevision is still charging as if no channels were lost. At least that’s what Tom Tango said earlier.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

      That’s what I said, blockquoted in a Tango post.

  • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

    Just illegally stream it. I don’t see the concern seeing as the people you’re supposedly screwing would be Fox and Cablevision.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ngoral Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

      I agree. Nobody will give a damn if you watch a stream. The worst possible thing that could happen is that the source of the stream is taken off the air.

      I think it is incredibly lame they aren’t showing the WS, since it’s basically the Tri-State area, it makes it seem as if we’re all sore losers and can’t watch the WS because the Yankees aren’t in it. I know there are other reasons, but at least wait until the WS is over!

  • Mike R

    Yah man.. Sick and tired of this bullshit with Cablevision and Fox.. This is going to be a sick world series regardless of the fact that the Yanks got eliminated and I’m not gonna be able to see it. Thanks Fox, Thanks Cablevision.. Id just buy the HD Antenna and write it off.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ngoral Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

    BTW I hate Dolan and everything he is about. Just had to get it out there.

  • Pat D

    So glad I live in an area where I can get DirecTV and that even if I couldn’t get that, I wouldn’t be subjected to Cablevision’s bullshit.

    Except for the fact that, after another fairly shitty day of work which once again made me so look forward to the fact that I’ll be on a different shift with different people in 2 1/2 weeks, I come home to find out that the receiver/DVR that I made my own personal DVR has crashed. Everything on it–gone.

    So what did I lose?
    –About 10-12 movies taped from Turner Classic Movies or Fox Movie Channel that aren’t available on DVD, including 3 I had not yet watched (luckily 2 of them are re-airing next week, including 1948’s The Babe Ruth Story.

    –Two of the AFI 100 Years specials from 2007 and 2008 that will never be re-aired and can’t be purchased.

    –A few WWE shows that either had some special significance or I attended live and could be seen on camera a few times. One of these included the Chris Benoit Tribute show that was aired after they knew he was dead but before they knew he killed his family and himself. Chance you’ll ever see that again? Try negative infinity %.

    –And a bunch of other things that I just can’t remember. Probably a few TV episodes I was saving for no particular reason.

    But, gee, ain’t life grand?

    So in a much different way, I feel your pain, Joe.

    • Kit

      You just reminded me that I meant to record the baseball related movies they were giving on TCM and completely forgot. *facepalm*

      • Pat D

        Yea, I watched Kill the Umpire when it was on at 10:30 in the morning. The other one I taped was Elmer the Great, which will also be rerun next week along with The Babe Ruth Story.

        Those were the only ones I needed to watch, that they were on one of AFI’s 100 Years series list of nominees. The other ones that were being aired are either available on DVD or I didn’t feel the need to watch them.

        Next week they’re showing The Winning Team, which I’ve seen parts of and don’t feel the need to see again. Ronald Reagan playing Grover Alexander which features his performance against the Yankees in the 1926 World Series? Yea, I can skip that. Reagan was, frankly, nothing more than a second-rate actor. He was pretty good in The Killers, and that’s really the only other movie I’ve seen him in. After that they show It Happened in Flatbush and Eight Men Out.

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime-Mrs. OBP Jesus Maquinito

      *doesn’t have DVR*

      • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

        I just got it when I moved and it is seriously the greatest thing ever. Especially for someone like me who works evenings and therefore never gets to watch her shows live.

  • BronxBoy54

    You (we) should write our congressmen / senators that 1) just like any other vital service, cable tv must be provided while the parties negotitate and 2) because we can not buy cable in increments less than a month, if there is any interruption for service for more than 24 hours, the fee for the whole month must be given back to the customers.

    • The Three Amigos

      I am not coming after you in anyway, but getting congress involved in anything is always a bad idea. Yes, sometimes businessmen are d-bags, but at least their businessmen and know how to make a profit. Congress is a bunch of no nothing, do nothing losers. They always make things worse.

  • Joey

    #5 until the pull their heads out of their asses

  • Ed

    The blame on this one is pretty solidly on Fox. As much as it sucks to lose parts of the postseason, I really don’t want Fox to win this.

    The root of the issue is the rights to transmit the broadcast channels Fox 5 and My 9 over cable. Normally cable companies don’t pay anything for that under the reasoning that there shouldn’t be a fee for something that’s already being transmitted through the airwaves for free. If Fox gets their demands, you’re looking at around $3/month on your cable bill just for those 2 channels.

    And if Fox wins this you can bet that all the other broadcast channels will demand similar payments. You can expect your cable bill to go up significantly over the next few years if that happens.

  • Kit

    I couldn’t agree with this more. Also, I thought you couldn’t get antennas anymore because of the digital TV switch, so all TV’s without cable/dish would need a converter box.

    • Ed

      I believe that all TVs made in the past few years were required to have a digital tuner built in, making the converter unnecessary.

      • Klemy

        Not to mention that they make antennas for receiving the local digital broadcasts that work fine. I do get Fox and my local affiliates through an HD antenna that cost $20. I use it in extra rooms or when cable goes out.

        Obviously, these prob work at differing levels from location to location. Just saying that it’s not out of the realm of possibility for everyone.

  • Chris

    Justin.tv or p2p4u.com

  • Jon G

    I live in the bay area, got sick of Comcast’s BS and switched to DirecTV. Much happier – no going back to cable companies run by douchebags.

    • Bobtaco

      doesn’t Murdoch basically own DirecTV?

      • The Three Amigos

        John Malone does. Liberty Media

  • ROBTEN

    Unfortunately, in my experience an amplified HD antenna doesn’t always help provide any better reception than a non-amplified one. (In fact, in one case I found the opposite to be true.) The ability to receive digital signals depends entirely on having a clear path to the broadcast tower. Without a clear path, even an amplified antenna might not do much.

    From the NY TIMES:

    Although digital broadcasts will provide a superior picture and more channels than old analog broadcasts, digital reception is more easily blocked by hills, trees and buildings than analog reception. Furthermore, analog degrades gradually, with the picture displaying snow or ghosts (image echoes) as the signal becomes weaker. But the digital signal stays uniformly crisp until the signal gets weak; then the picture suddenly drops out, a phenomenon that engineers call the “cliff effect.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04.....asics.html

    • Klemy

      This is obviously completely dependent upon location, but when it does work in your area, it’s a great answer to paying for an extra Cable HD box for a spare bedroom, etc.

  • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

    For once, I am glad to have Time Warner.

    • CBean

      ditto

  • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

    Wooooo Comcast.

    /actuallycomcastsucksreallybadbutwhatever

  • Jonathan

    As some of you know from my previous complaining about this, it could be MUCH worse. I grew up an absolute diehard Yankee fan in Kansas. I now live in a small town in SE KS. I wanted to switch to Satellite and buy the Extra Innings package but then I couldn’t get the big networks of ABC/NBC/FOX/CBS which carry all the biggest sporting events of the season. Back in HS that’s what I did and missed Aaron Boone’s HR in the 2003 ALCS, so needless to say, never again. I “saw” it on the Yahoo Gamecast thing. I too ran into the familiar problem of the rabbit ears not working down here. Another option is to get ATT and the YES Network but of course, ATT doesn’t service people in the middle of fucking nowhere. So now the only time I get to see the Yankees play is on WGN vs the White Sox, FOX, ESPN, MLBNetwork, TBS or vs the Royals. I don’t know how you could determine in what order of terrible those announcers are but let’s just say it’s not pretty. Be very grateful that you at least get the YES network.

    • Greg

      When YES came out 6 or 7 years ago it took Cablevision almost a year to pick up the channel… DirecTV folks. You won’t be upset.

      • lardin

        That you can blame on the Dolans. When YES started MSG got screwed. How much you want to bet, if this were June and the Rangers were in the playoffs this would not be an issue..

    • the other Steve S.

      Dude, get MLB.TV and watch on the computer. If you can get internet, you are in.

  • Greg

    I can’t believe you people are still putting up with cablevision’s crap. This is at least the 2nd or 3rd dispute with a channel in the last 3 years. DROP THEM. They are a horribly run company who obviously doesn’t care about their customers. About 5 years ago I switched to DirecTV, and my only regret is that I didn’t do it 10 years ago. More channels, better channels, all digital channels, their HD feeds look a LOT better then cable, their boxes don’t lag for 15 seconds every time you go to change the channel… Oh yeah, did I mention Sports. Baseball and football packages in FULL HD!! They also have hockey and soccer and basketball and college basketball packages, but I’m a baseball/football fan. But really, get rid of cable. DirecTV hadn’t had a dispute with a channel in the 5 years that I had them… If anything, they are making deals and getting new channels as they debut.

    • yungsta

      that’s what my friends tell me that cv has done this before like no other cable provider.

    • http://riveraveblues Alan

      What do you mean Direct TV does not lose channels. Direct TV lost 95% of the Hockey Season last year. They lost Versus for 6 months. Cablevision is not at fault. Fox is being paid 70 million and now wants 150 million. Should Cablevision just accept that over 100% increase. You are crazy and Direct TV sucks.

  • Jimmyo

    Loving Fios. Better Picture, Faster Internet

    • Klemy

      I did love that, but I’ve moved outside of their area of service now, so I had to return to Time Warner. /sadface

  • http://itsaboutthemoney.net Brien Jackson

    DirecTV >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> cable

    Pretty sure Fox is in a dispute with Dish Network too, so it might be more Fox’s fault than Cablevision’s

    • yungsta

      If cv were great people would stick by them but I think DT has better customer srevice.

  • Chris

    My GOD people, you are all the most ill informed, inconcieved people around here…

    First off, saying Cablevision doesn’t care about their customers, i can understand, from the $210 a month i pay them.. but in the same point THIS IS NOT THEIR FAULT.

    a) Cablevision AGREED to binding arbitration, and has PUSHED it all along.. FOX on the other hand is saying NO.

    That ALONE tells you that this is a FOX issue. FOX pulled the channel, NOT cablevision.. Fox wants $150-$180 Million a year MORE which will increase our cable bills by as much as $10 a MONTH JUST to carry the same chanel we have had for x amount of Years..

    But nooooooooooooo.. People dont wanna hear that.. They just want to blame Dolan and CV for being Greedy and “Running a bad company”.. Well let me tell u this Jack..

    I am not a Dolan fan, (im a Knicks Die Hard).. but in the same stance, Their online service and phone service are bar none the best… The TV is ok, way overpriced, but u know what, you DONT HAVE to have it.

    Blame the FCC for this entire “All Digital” shit, where you cant get standard signals anymore in areas because your TV cant get all the 1’s and 0’s…

    I mean this so pisses me off to se all this bullshit talked around here on how OH i hate CV, OH i hate Fox, Oh I should drop them.. Then DO it already and stop being a fkn baby about it! Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!

    and just for the record.. I know 5 people, in the last 4 months, who have gone BACK To CV because Verizon’s billing department is filled with a bunch of friggin retards.. FiOS charged my own parents $477 the first month, when the person who CAME to the house said it would be no more then $160..

    Mom refused to pay and u know what, Verizon has been sending her checks every month because they overcharged her EVERY MONTH..

    I’ll stick with my CV thank u very much, and Fox can go take a long jump off a short pier. Thanks to a company actually saying NO to customer rate increases.

    • yungsta

      you sound like a commercial and cv sucks.

    • yungsta

      do you have stock in cv? one of my friends who switched said this is not them blaming cv this is ONE MORE DISPUTE with cv and some channel and cv’s piss poor service. most of my friends don’t care if it’s their fault or not. You can back them all you want but everyone else is entitled to their opinion and for the people I’ve talked to it’s not about FAULT its about cv sucks too much for me to ride through this with them.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

      You call us ill-informed, yet you’re just parroting one side of the argument. Yeah. Makes sense to me.

      • The Three Amigos

        Not to mention he really doesn’t know anything.

        • CU Tiger

          Just as I have a hard time imagining a scenario in which I would root for the Red Sox, I have a hard time imagining a scenario in which I would buy CV as the “good guy”.
          (I mean I have imagined a scenario in which I would root for the Red Sox but that involved aliens and a best of seven series to determine the fate of the planet, and even then I imagined it going to seven games)

  • Chris

    Oh and 1 more thing. Fox’s contract with VERIZON is up in Feburary.. If you dont think FOX isnt holding out to screw all the verizon customers even worse… Just u wait.. Mark my words.

    • yungsta

      but cablevision is always in a dispute with someone (look at their history) don’t drink the cablevision koolaid

    • http://riveraveblues Alan

      How do you know that Fox’s contract is up with Verizon in February? That is good news.

  • yungsta

    two friends went to directv and one went to fios. If you type in cablevision in twitter search you’ll see all kinds of people switching.

    if i lived in the city and had no control, I’d go watch in a bar but I don’t and I do.

  • max

    I seriously solved this problem with…a paperclip.

    a friend said that you can get over the air HD, I did a little googling, placed a paperclip in the VHF/UHF antenna port, did a scan for channels and now have Fox.

    • rek4gehrig

      Seriously?

  • john c

    here in the nyc area, Fox is broadcast on UHF. so you do not use rabbit ears, you use a UHF loop. a coathanger connected to a coax cable might even work.

  • Mike HC

    And of course, the crooks wait until the WS to do this. They can’t come up with a separate deal to air the WS? Of course not. That would be too accommodating.

    Its fucking bullshit that these people can get away with this. Threaten to pull your stupid sitcoms or whatever else FOX shows. Fine. But to pull a national event like the WS is truly criminal in my book.

    • Mike HC

      I have Time Warner by the way. But have family and friends with Cablevision and basically had it my whole life other than the last 3 years or so.

  • ChrisS

    Ahhh, the great telecommunications monopoly free market.

    It’s amazing how a consumer typically has access to only a limited number of providers that all charge approximately the same amount for the same things but the difference is in “quality” and artificial restrictions. Wireless phone service is similar.

  • Tank Foster

    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 feel your pain…to a degree. Do I think Ruppert Murdoch and Jim Dolan are a couple of straight up mensches who want to be pillars of the community and are sympathetic to the situation of millions of out of work Americans, etc.? Noooooo.

    But I think it’s a stretch to say they don’t care about customers. It’s a business, and you aren’t going to be very good to your customers if you make bad deals and go broke. Sometimes they play hardball, no pun intended, and that’s what I think is happening here. In the long run, it is probably better for television viewers across the country…because either Fox will be broken and this will prevent them from holding other cable and satellite providers hostage in the future, or we will learn that Cablevision is the skinflint, and they will learn their lesson and think twice before playing chicken with someone as big as Fox again.

    But yeah, it sucks.

    , but I disagree. Business is business. They aren’t in business to make baseball fans happy, they’re in business to make money. If one or both parties feels like they’re being extorted

    • Mike HC

      When everything clears, I can almost guarantee that both Cablevision and Fox will be better off, and the consumer will be worse off. You can bet on it.

  • Tank Foster

    Oh crap editing fail…..please delete the tail of my comment if you want…or the whole comment, I don’t care.

  • rek4gehrig

    You are welcome to come watch it at my place.

    ps. Dont buy postseasontv…it sucks.
    pps. justintv might work..its free

  • Jim Johnson

    I work in the cable industry. Let me tell you, this shit happens ALL the time.

    In 2008, our contract dispute was with Viacom. MTV, VH1, Comedy, Nickelodeon, BET, CMT, Spike… In 2009, it was with FOX. Earlier this year, it was with ABC/ESPN. It never ends. What is Cablevision going to do… NOT carry FOX? Their customer-base would shrink by 50% within a week. It’s admirable that they’re holding their ground and it’s really crappy that FOX has decided to pull their content and use the increasingly furious viewers as leverage. Really, in this situation, everybody loses. It’s a game of chicken to see who blinks first.

    The same thing is going to happen next time a contract is up. It doesn’t matter who your television provider is.

  • DocBooch

    I’m in the same boat as Joe with this. To further the problem, my internet carrier is through Cablevision. Therefore just switching to Direct TV is complicated. Also, I’ve had Direct TV before and I wasn’t impressed. It goes out when it rains, you have to buy your own boxes, and the dish looks like a big bird bath. I don’t want that on my house.

    Of course, Fios is not in my area. I’d switch in a heartbeat if it was.

    Someone needs to get a class action suit together against both these assholes.

  • Frank

    Joe, and everyone else in NYC, check out sites like this: http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/welcome.aspx

    They’ll help you better accurately identify direction and quality if you choose to purchase an antenna. You can also check out AVSForum as a lot of people on there have gone this route and I’m sure you’ll find more than a couple in the NYC area.

  • Yank the Frank

    When Cablevision was in a dispute with YES when Yes first came out, I switched to DirecTV. Have never regreted it. I have 9 TV’s hooked up to one HD dish. Weather related problems are minimal and their customer service is great.

  • king of fruitless hypotheticals

    none of you have knology?

    oh, yeah, there’s a reason for that!

    stick anything metal in your antenna connection and you’ll get something–probably enough to get through the WS. try ONE coat hanger.

    i can’t wait for the day cable gets re/de/un/over/under-regulated and we can be a la carte service–yes, i’ll have the history channel, the disney channel, lifetime and YES channel please. how much? yes thank you.

  • Pipes

    I purchased the 60 dollar digital antenna from radio shack this passed saturday because i really wanted to watch game 6 of the NLCS and knew I would want to watch the world series regardless of who made it…. being I live in Hoboken, I was able to pick up the FOX signal perfectly… The HD is amazing too, even better picture than cablevision. Radio Shack said I can return the antenna within 30 days for a full cash refund, it was a no-brainer for me, the only thing that’s annoying is reconfiguring my TV and rigging up the antenna’s receiver out on my fire escape.

  • StandingRoomOnly

    At the start of the NLCS, I signed up for a free 30 day trial at http://www.ivi.tv/. The quality is not awesome, but it’s good enough. I’ll cancel once the world series is over.

  • BigDavey88

    Crappy country bumpkin Service Electric Cable Company “for the win”!

  • adeel

    I highly recommend slingbox. You have a friend/family who lives in a market or has a sports/cable package you need, you ask them to get an extra cable box ($4/month), connect that to singbox with your own user name/pw.

    I live in the philadelphia market area, and have been using slingbox hooked up in my parents house in NY for two years to watch yes games.

    I also bought the cell phone app, so I have tv everywhere i go.

    It’s expensive at first $150 for the slingbox +$4-$5/month for a cable box (I opted not to go the hd route) and $30 for the cell phone app, but it’s a lot more than just getting the world series; it’s like having TV on your laptop and cell phone wherever you are, and having a backup cable company should your decide to suck.

    BTW, this is all fox fault. Don’t get me wrong, cablevision sucks ass, and is the lamest tv service when it comes to quality and channel selection, but this holdout is all fox’s doing. Something about comcast buying NBC made the the networks realize the cable companies had wayyyyy to big profit margins. But it hard to charge for a product that was once free.

    • adeel

      Just to make it clear, the 150 and 30 are one time charges… and then you’re good to go.

  • Elias

    Man, do yourself the same favor I did for my family…drop the cable altogether and just go satellite. I made the switch four years ago and all the headaches and aggravation I was used to dealing with in relation to my TV service just disappeared. I’ve been a DISH customer for the last four years and love it (I actually started working in one of their call centers about a year ago). Their customer service is awesome, their techs know what their doing and are ON TIME, and they offer the most HD in the business. What’s not to love?