Comcast: You Didn't Really Want All The "Extra Innings" Channels You Paid For, Did You?

Reader Phil writes to tell us that he’s not receiving all the channels he paid for when he signed up with MLB Extra Innings with his Massachusetts Comcast franchise:

As of today, 4/20/07, Comcast has refused to give us the full 15 channels in my area, and I am not alone. In conversing online with many, many other consumers, lots of Americans are getting the shaft. I have checked with Cox cable, Time Warner, and Direct TV, they all have supplied their customers with all 15 channels for the same price of 159.95. Comcast charges us the same price, yet only delivers 10 channels, two-thirds of what we are offered.

I have checked with the package provider, and have found out that they do provide all 15 channels to Comcast, but that local Comcast offices decide which channels they wish to give us.

Out of the 10 channels they give us…

4 of them show Hockey Games! On some nights, I only get 6 games! Certainly not the 14 channels promised!

Their commercials promise “Don’t miss a minute of the action!”

So far, i have missed my favorite team 6 times! i have even spoken to Comcast Corporate in Philadelphia, and they give me several different excuses. “It’s a bandwidth problem” (not true), We don’t promise you all the channels (Not true, either), and my favorite, “It is a decision by the marketing department”. Yet, when I asked to speak to that department, they tell me that “They don’t speak to customers, ever”

Phil attached a memo from InDemand (the provider of Extra Innings) that instructs cable systems on the proceedure for serving the Extra Innings package to customers. We’re not sure what’s up with Comcast, but we’re going to post the memo so that they can reread it. —MEGHANN MARCO


InDemand Memo (PDF)

Comments

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  1. gorckat says:

    The current 2007 MLB EXTRA INNINGS Restrictions and Blackout Information document accompanies this memo.

    Top of page 3 of the memo. My guess is MLB has blacked out certain areas due to some kind of exclusive rights contracts or channels like MASN (MId-Atlantic Sports Network) but that doesn’t get advertised.

  2. jeblis says:

    I want the gamehd channel. Right now I have to wait until a the game I want is on ESPNHD or the local fox hd to see the Red Sox in HD goodness.

    Hell I want em all in HD. So very pretty. Mmmm.

  3. Scazza says:

    Whats wrong with Hockey?!? (I kid..)

  4. hoc-key?

    sorry, wrong Gawker Media site..

  5. rewind says:

    I was thinking that it could be bandwidth, as I wouldn’t think that many games at a time would be victim to an exclusive rights contract. I think the real kicker with that is that he has checked with the other providers in his area.

    Not that the CSR was not feeding him bull with the bandwidth line either, but cable providers are EXTREMELY reluctant to rerunning lines, and they may still have areas in their service region that can’t handle that many channels, and if I remember correctly, on cable HD channels take the place of 6 regular channels as far as bandwidth requirements (from a local station tech I had as an adjunct prof).

    As difficult as it is to believe, there are areas in the country that still only get a max of 40 SD channels via cable.

  6. The Bigger Unit says:

    i don’t feel too bad for him! he is from Massachusetts and probably a Sox fan, and therefore an ass! what else can i write with an exclamation point! i do not know!

  7. koko2606 says:

    I know that right now on Time Warner Cable the NHL package and MLB package share channels, so of the 15 channels available only about 10 or so are really available for baseball games, the rest are showing NHL playoff games. While I didn’t extend the package past the free trial, I would imagine that the channels that are reserved for NHL will revert to MLB once the playoffs get down to the conference finals/cup finals as they will probably be nationally televised.

    Of course, why you only have 10 channels in the first place is still confusing to me. (versus the full 15)

  8. phypennwl says:

    gorckat:

    Your reasoning doesn’t explain why Comcast-MA is refusing to show 5 additional channels. Blackout restrictions should really apply to only 1 game, maybe 2 if there’s a national game (ESPN or FOX) not involving the local team.

    Besides, my guess is that his favorite team is not the Red Sox, or else there would be no reason for him to get the Extra Innings package (it would be very, very difficult for any Red Sox fan to not know that MASN shows almost all the Red Sox games).

  9. The Bigger Unit says:
  10. The Bigger Unit says:
  11. valthun says:

    My whole problem with this is how does anyone have 160 bucks to blow on 15 channels all supposedly dedicated to baseball. I like cable, and I like HD, but I sure as hell am not going to spend 160 dollars for 15 channels. If I was paying that amount though I sure as hell would be pissed that I was being shorted some of those channels.

  12. storm says:

    Here’s my beef:

    I subscribe every year to NHL Center Ice, and pay the $150 or so it costs. This year, I got billed an additional $50 for the playoffs–that’s never ever happened before.

    Considering you get hundreds of games for $150, and then they want to recharge you $50 (without permission for something that you used to be included) is pure rip off.

    Plus, for some reason, I live in an area where San Jose is not my RSN, but all San Jose games are blocked out.

    I have Charter, not Comcast, btw.

  13. Trai_Dep says:

    I realize I’m being parochial and stunningly empathy-free, but I’m of the ilk that any idiot that pays $160 because the 12 games/day that are already on any of the 30 sports channels available aren’t enough deserves to get snookered.

    Sort of like those Nigerian letter scams. Bad (bad!) Nigerian con men. But c’mon, it’s hard to blame these guys when presented with such obvious suckers.

    I’d have a smidgen of sympathy for these viewers if they didn’t already have their 120 games a week subsidized by the freaken packaging that forces non-armchair quarterback types to give ESPN and their ilk to pay thru the nose for that crap. Or the lame attempt at getting these “premium” offerings crammed down the throat of non-interested cable customers.

    Geez, guys. Turn off the TV, step outside and play a bit of pick-up ball. Sure, we suck. But have a great day sucking.

    Thanks. I feel better now. :D

  14. SugarRob says:

    Why are you guys judging people for being sports fans? Extra Innings is a huge benefit for people who happen to not be fans of the Yankees, Mets or Red Sox. Every day there’s usually some compelling matchup or subplot that fans of the game appreciate and want to see.

  15. jeblis says:

    No the games are not on other sports channels. Especially if you are out of market. If I lived in New England I could get NESN probably in HD) Here in Texas I either get mld.tv or mlb extra innings if i want to watch more than 2 red Sox games a month.

    $160 is for the whole season. Roughly $1 per game if you watch only 1 team.

  16. jeblis says:

    @The Nature Boy: That’s Masshole, and I think generalizing based upon one fan is pretty dumb.

  17. phildogger says:

    I am Phil, the person from Boston who submitted this article. I am not a Red Sox fan, thank you very much! I strongly urge anyone with this same problem to call Comcast often!

    As far as their bandwith excuse, it doesn’t hold water. Our cable system goes up to channel 900! and there is plenty of open channels along the way. Our baseball package is channels 621-630, and then there isn’t another channel until 679!

  18. phildogger says:

    This isn’t about your opinion of sports fans, it’s about getting what we paid for. If you don’t like baseball, fine. But don’t judge me because I do. and the weather here is 30 degrees and rainy, so feel free to step outside for me, OK?@trai_dep:

  19. The Bigger Unit says:

    @jeblis: I was calling myself an asshole. And I’m basing it on 2 fans bub (see the links?), which is highly sensible.

  20. jeblis says:

    @phildogger: Sunny, 73 degrees.

    I feel for you, it’s cold up there, and it must be tough not being a Sox fan up there.

  21. phildogger says:

    Yeah, We get 162 games a year already. RED SOX games, which I do not care to watch. Occasionally, ESPn will throw us a bone and carry one of my Indians games. Without this package, we would get 4 or 5 televised games a year.

  22. suckonthat says:

    @phildogger: I am also in Boston (Cambridge anyways) and it is 60 and gorgeous right now. Though I get your point; this is the first day it has actually felt like April.

    @ trai_dep: Even when it is nice, good luck finding an empty field and at least 5 friends who have lots of spare time. Unless you have lots of independently wealthy, jobless friends and live in an area with tons of parks, this is not a viable option most nights of the week, so cut those of us who want to watch TV some slack.

  23. ruz says:

    Phil has posted some of his attempts at discussions with Comcast over on my blog, where I’ve been dealing with the same problem in Harrisburg PA.

    http://www.cruzich.com/labels/comcast.html

    In my case, at least, it look like the channels have been turned on today. Phil and the folks in Boston have not been so lucky.

  24. jeblis says:

    Indians…always had a soft spot for them. Would have been real nice if they could have won yesterday. I stopped watching in the middle of the 8th and look what happens.

    /Also have mlb.tv so I can watch at work

  25. rewind says:

    @phildogger:

    Just because the channels go up to a certain number doesn’t mean the pipe (the coaxial cable) can actually handle carrying all of that data simultaneously to the subscriber. They can assign channel numbers arbitrarily, so just because they have channels in the 900’s, doesn’t mean that there is actually enough room in the pipe to fill every one of those channels with content. Remember, they are probably also serve data services (home internet) off of that same pipe, so the more people you having using “Comcastic” internet service, the less room you have reserved for channel bandwidth, especially since everything is shared on coax.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I support your position on if they advertise the whole package, you ought to get the whole package, or only charge you a fractional fee based on what they are actually giving you. Certainly telling you ahead of time no matter the case. But the local people are in charge of what from Comcasts services can be put on their network because throughout the country you run into so many different scenarios with line quality.

  26. phildogger says:

    Other subscribers are getting their additioanl 4 channels, and from what I can tell, they are being placed on the inactive NBA channels.

    Rewind, If this was a free package, you wouldn’t hear me complain. But Comcast has many, many inactive channels right now.

  27. Spikeykatt says:

    Phil,

    I’m glad you recieved at least a few channels. A few summers ago I tried to order through Comcast only to find out my specific area did not support the package channels. I did however get charged for it each and every month, and each and every month I called customer service and they kept saying they fixed the billing issue and next month it would be on there again with a past due fee from the month before. Comcast was one of the worst companies I have ever dealt with when it came to customore service and the resolution of an issue. EVERY company makes mistakes, how they choose to deal with them is a big part of how consumers should judge them. Good luck & enjoy the season!

  28. swalve says:

    I think part of Comcast’s problem (not an excuse, just an explanation) is that every market has a slightly different set-up. And when they buy a cable system, it takes time to integrate everything. So it can get really corn-fusing.

    Anyway- just like over the air digital TV, one HDTV channel takes up the same space as one old-time analog channel. Depending on how much they compress them, they can cram 6-10 standard definition digital channels in the space of one old-time analog channel. That’s why they’re trying to get digital-only service rolled out- more channels in the same space.

    I have no idea why they would offer the MLB package if they didn’t have room for it. Probably figured they could get away with it? Or as is probably the case, Marketing’s goals conflict with Engineering’s realities, and Customer Service takes the grief.

  29. shdwsclan says:

    I dont know which is better.
    Cable can get you some channels but not all, if you want all the channels you have to go with satellite, i mean, you can every channel in the world.

  30. bosox says:

    bosox says: comcast advertises $159.98 for extra innings on their web site but you call the local comcast customer service in south west florida, fort myers they are quoting $200.00 for half the season-till all star break so we are looking at $400.00 for 2007 season. Direct tv is looking better especially if $400.00 only buys 11 channels!