News has slowly begun to trickle out regarding contractual disputes between DISH network and several of Comcast SportsNet's regional networks around the country. Sactown Royalty has learned that the carriage agreement between DISH Network and Comcast SportsNet California is also set to expire on December 1st of this year. And, from the looks of things, both sides are nowhere near coming to terms on an agreement. But what does all this mean to you?
This means that somewhere around 400,000 local DISH subscribers would no longer be able to watch Kings games... indefinitely.
And that's just the number of subscribers who'll be impacted locally. Kings fans won't be alone, as DISH is also threatening to drop CSN in other areas of the country including Chicago, the Bay Area, Washington DC, and the Mid-Atlantic region. That's Warriors fans, Bulls fans, Wizards fans, and more, who may not be able to watch their favorite teams play.
Comcast SportsNet California issued the following statement:
"With the upcoming expiration of our agreement, we are growing increasingly concerned that DISH is not willing to work toward mutually acceptable terms for continuing carriage of Comcast SportsNet California. This unwillingness to recognize the value of our live game coverage of the Kings, Sharks, A's, Earthquakes and CIF high school sports, as well as exclusive Raiders programming, is disappointing. Comcast SportsNet California is simply asking DISH to meet fair market value and the terms that have already been established with our other distribution partners. We feel that the time is right to inform the passionate viewers of Comcast SportsNet California that they may soon be unable to watch their favorite teams via DISH's service."
In the meantime the network is encouraging subscribers to voice their displeasure by calling 1-844-I-Want-CSN or log on to IWantCSNCA.com.
And while CSN is clearly pointing the finger at DISH, the satellite provider claims CSN's unfair demands will be to blame should customers ultimately end up having to go without seeing their favorite teams play:
"Comcast SportsNet is demanding a 40 percent price increase for more than 90 percent of DISH customers in each of the affected markets, when only a small fraction of those consumers actually watch the channels."
This wouldn't be the first time Kings fans have been caught in the middle of big money contractual negotiations of this sort. DISH pulled CSN from local subscribers for several months, right in the middle 2010-2011 season, over a similar dispute. As a result many Kings fans were stuck without a way to watch one of the most incredible plays in recent Sacramento Kings history.
CSN's "Warriors News" twitter account isn't remaining quiet about it, as they began informing Warriors fans this afternoon:
There's no way to know who's wrong and who's right in these situations. Networks tend to have a habit of negotiating in public, while DISH has a very storied history of trapping consumers in the middle of myriad contractual disputes. As recently as yesterday, DISH customers were unable to watch several of Turner broadcasting's networks including CNN, Turner Classic Movies, and the Cartoon Network. It wasn't too long ago that DISH customers had to go without AMC and it's bevy of popular shows, and they narrowly avoided losing access to CBS before the two parties came to a "temporary agreement" early TODAY. I could go on and on but the point is it's the consumer, or the fan in this case, that always ends up getting shafted.
I don't know how many of the 400,000 subscribers impacted locally will simply opt to switch providers as a result of these negotiations but I do know the Kings are suddenly extremely relevant, which wasn't exactly the case in 2010-2011. And I do know this news isn't likely to be warmly received by legions of fans dying for a fix of of their resurgent team.
Hopefully both sides will work things out soon so no one will have to miss any of what's shaping up to be the best Kings season we've seen in YEARS.
We'll keep you updated as we learn more.