It didn’t happen. Alioto quickly tossed off our email to Marisa Veroneau, Affiliate Marketing Manager at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, whose emailed response arrived three hours after ours hit Alioto’s computer (his address is email@example.com).
Veroneau’s email covered pretty much the same ground as what she wrote in March, with one major difference: She wrote then that Comcast “won’t give up until we are done” negotiating with Time Warner “to have Comcast SportsNet fully distributed in your community.” Today’s email contains no such nose-to-the-grindstone commitment. Instead, she asserts that “our Giants coverage is available to every local Hawaii TV provider, and as a result of our negotiations, DirecTV and Dish Network now carry Comcast SportsNet locally on terms that all parties are fair and reasonable.” It ends with her advice to “consider changing your service to DirecTV or Dish Network.”
That’s totally disingenuous, of course. Those two networks have managed to capture only 6 percent of the Hawaii television households, leaving the rest of them blacked out for Giants games. As we wrote in our response to Veroneau, “the market has spoken loudly about our preference, and DirecTV and Dish Network are not it. You are repeating the same mantra you’ve used for the past two years.”
Big League Stew, a Yahoo Sports column, today picked up on Ferd Lewis’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser recent column and joined the movement to end the blackout. The Stew noted an important angle worth repeating: “The MLB allows six teams to lick Hawaii’s donut (by including the state in their home territories), even if there’s no chance that its providers can pay all their regional networks for the privilege of airing their games.” With the Angels and Dodgers already in the expense column, maybe Oceanic Time Warner’s reluctance to cut a deal with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area stems from a simple inability to pay. Here’s what an Oceanic executive wrote to us in February:
“For years the only regional sports available to us was provided by Fox West and Fox Prime Ticket. Rates were very low and both have been carried on our Analog Expanded Basic for over 30 years. It wasn’t until Comcast’s recent acquisition of Bay Area Giants and Oakland A’s that there was even the possibility of carrying those teams but unfortunately, the rate being asked for access to 2 teams of interest in Hawaii makes no business sense. Because of our ‘close’ proximity to the market, they are prohibiting us to put the Giants and A’s on a sports tier. That means it would go on our standard service and all our subscribers would see a rate increase on their monthly cable bill, north of 6%.”
So there you go – a rock-ribbed standoff between two corporate giants that leaves Giants fans out of luck and thankful for whatever comes our way – like the 12 games KITV will carry this summer. We urge all baseball fans in Hawaii to write Mario Alioto at the above address and ask him to waive the “home TV territory” clause, thereby allowing Giants games to be streamed by MLB.com to Hawaii in the absence of a Comcast-Time Warner deal. The blackout affects not only Giants (and A’s) fans but also fans of all Major League teams that play the Giants and A’s during the season.
Here’s Veroneau’s emailed reply on Alioto’s behalf: