DirecTV + NHL Center Ice + ComcastSportsNet = No Hockey Games For You To Watch

Reader Steve is displeased with the blackout restrictions that are affecting his ability to watch the Philadelphia Flyers:

My name is Steven [redacted]. This isn’t your typical rant about lousy customer service but I think it qualifies anyway.

I live in the Harrisburg, PA area – “Comcast Country” so I shouldn’t have to explain my decision to subscribe to DirecTV. As part of my DirecTV service I also subscribe to the NHL Center Ice package so I can watch the Philadelphia Flyers games. I was happy with my service and my TV provider choices until about a week ago…

The NHL in its infinite wisdom (does a sports league qualify for your Worst Company in America contest? If so, I nominate the NHL for next year.) decided to start its own network. They also decided to broadcast 2 of the last 3 Flyers games before the playoffs on that network while also letting the local regional sports channels broadcast them. Therefore, due to the NHL blackout rules and Comcast’s policies (more on that later) I couldn’t watch the games even after shelling out the extra money. Seems that when a game is on a national network and a local channel, the national network gets blacked out in the local market. Besides the inanity of starting a TV station that fans of the game can’t watch, the NHL is also screwing anyone with DirecTV in a Comcast market.

Why? you ask. Because Comcast won’t allow DirecTV to show ComcastSportsNet on their service. I guess it’s not bad enough that Comcast drives customers away (like they did with me) with their corporate greed and stupidity but now they have to screw me again by not allowing a competing service carry their channels.

I have emailed DirecTV, the NHL (through their website) and the Flyers with responses from the first two. DirecTV actually responded over a weekend. Their response was to tell me to lodge a complaint to the FCC about Comcast not allowing them access to their channels. I have yet to do that. I was actually somewhat satisfied with their response as it seemed slightly more personal than I really expected (perhaps the threat to turn to FiOS had something to do with that, I don’t know.).

The NHL actually responded as well, with the previously mentioned blackout rules. The fact that I actually got a response was so shocking that I guess I shouldn’t have expected any better answer than what I got.

My question is this, do I really have any recourse in this matter or do I just have to suck it up and accept this? I knew when I signed up for the CenterIce package that I wouldn’t be getting the Flyers telecasts which I have learned to live with. I didn’t read and fully understand the blackout rules when the games were on national TV because, up to this point, I could always watch the national channels showing the games.

By the way, they’re doing the same thing to me with the first round of the playoffs by showing the games on Versus and ComcastSportsNet.

Thank you for your time.

Steve

Well, Steve, as someone who spends a mindbendingly large amount of money each year for the privilege of watching Rex Grossman misplace footballs like they were his car keys, you have my complete sympathy.

I really do hate to tell you this, but there’s essentially nothing you can do. When these sorts of conflicts come up it usually takes intervention or the threat of intervention by a fancy Senator before anything gets done. (Arlen Specter (R-PA), for example, likes to gripe about the Eagles and the NFL, and John Kerry (D-MA) gets embarrassingly emotional over the Boston Red Sox.)

We can’t think of any fancy government officials who have a taste for hockey, but if you know of any, we’d suggest starting a letter writing campaign right away. Since you’re from Pennsylvania, we’d at least try writing Senator Specter. Who knows, maybe he likes the Flyers? (We suspect it’s actually Comcast he likes, but maybe we’re just cynical?) If enough like-minded fans join you, perhaps he’ll take notice. After all, these are playoff games, are they not?

As much as it pains me to admit this, DirecTV was 100% correct when they suggested you complain to the FCC. Between complaining to them and complaining to your elected officials, it’s really all you can do.

Comments

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  1. Underpants Gnome says:

    You can do what I do when my Boilermakers play on the big ten network… Swear like a sailor and go to a sports bar :-)

  2. chucklebuck says:

    I think I feel sorrier for Meg getting to watch the Bears than this guy for NOT getting to watch the Flyers.

  3. quail says:

    Back in the 90′s I knew a guy who had satellite TV on his RV and house. The address that the satellite company had for his billing was actually his friend’s house out in Montana. The guy lived in L.A. and never had a sports black out, because the satellite company believed his dish was in Montana.

    Just saying…..

  4. JustAGuy2 says:

    Actually, this is just a Philadelphia thing. DirecTV carries all the Comcast SportsNets EXPECT Philly, which is only available on Comcast (and now FiOS). Comcast can deny SportsNet Philly to DirecTV due to a loophole in the FCC rules that otherwise require cable companies to offer local sports channels that they own to the satellite companies.

  5. Toof_75_75 says:

    Is this kind of like how I can have DirectTV and not be able to watch Penguins games without ordering a sports pack? DirectTV has every other Fox channel included in their pack, except for FSN Pittsburgh, which is the channel that airs Penguins games. Silly, DirectTV.

  6. Jim says:

    I am fortunate(?) to get the Bears for free off the rabbit ears, but I can’t watch the Cubs anymore (also fortunate?).

    Complaining to the FCC about Comcast on DirecTV’s behalf seems silly to me. It appears to me as though you have just become DirecTV’s volunteer lobbyist. It certainly looks like a futile endeavor.

    Maybe you could rally some fellow fans at your local sports bar – I know here in Indy enough people complained about the Colts game being on the NFL Network last year that one of the local stations coughed up the dough to buy rights to broadcast the game. That was just a regular season game, no less. If it had been the playoffs, people probably would have donated to the station to do it.

  7. Jim says:

    @Toof_75_75: It’s exactly like that. Reason #2 I canceled DirecTV was the old Sports Package – tons of Fox Sports Channels but only blacked out games, that Stupidest Dang Sports Show, and High School Football from Florida.

  8. tvmitch says:

    I don’t really understand the point of choosing one giant monopoly company over another. For me, Comcast offers the lowest prices and best combination of service. While they are indeed one of the worst companies on God’s Green Earth, I don’t think they’re all that better than Verizon, any satellite company, etc.

  9. backbroken says:

    Eff the Flyers. Seriously. Eff them all to hell.

  10. Saboth says:

    Ah well, I hate sports, so …I guess they can keep their shows on lockdown and I get to continue not giving a crap. Maybe try and listen to them on the radio, and cancel your expensive sports package that you can’t watch?

  11. joeblevins says:

    I would actually suggest starting with local politicos. I am betting significant amounts of tax dollars are used to support the building that your team plays in. You should at least be able to watch some of those games.

  12. AmbiUbi says:

    I feel your pain, Steve. I hate Comcast, don’t want to subscribe to their crappy service, so I sacrifice being able to watch Flyers games unless they are on UPN or VS. As far as I know, this is the ONLY market that this happens in. I’ll write the FCC today. And Specter. I mean, he’s a big enough baseball “fan” to get involved with the whole steroid thing; maybe he’ll fight for our right to watch the Flyers?

    Stupid Comcast. I hate you and hope you rot in hell.

  13. ???/??? says:

    As someone who gets Philly Comcast – let me tell….wha???

    I’ve never had a problem with Comcast. When they bought out Garden State back around 1998-1999, the transition was smooth and the service MUCH better.

    I then had @Home cable internet service. When it became Comcast@Home again, smooth sailing. I’ve had a few hiccups with internet service with Comcast – all issues that the tech has come out and fixed free of charge. They even have replaced my cable modem for free… despite the fact that I don’t rent my modem from them. (yes, I kept the old one)

    Oh and I can watch the Flyers any time I want.

  14. jtkooch says:

    Change your address with DirecTV. Find a college dorm address in Indiana, sign up for direct billing, and viola. You’ll lose any local stations DirecTV was providing, but if you have Comcast also, then its redundant.

  15. tedyc03 says:

    I gotta be honest…when the Capitals crush the Flyers on Friday and Sunday he’s going to be glad he didn’t have to watch.

  16. knightbass says:

    yeah, and coke should be forced to sell me pepsi! Funny how many people will scream that government should stay out of business until it comes to sports – sports fans are the most self-entitled jerks around. You think THIS is what our government officials should be worried about? Comcast and DirectTV compete for viewers. One key aspect of that is to show content the other guy doesn’t have. It’s all part of something we Americans refer to as capitalism.

    As for tax dollars being used to build stadiums so a bunch of steroid pumping idiots can get even more rich…don’t get me started. Funny how many people will scream that government should stay out of business until it comes to sports.

  17. Moosehawk says:

    As bad as I feel about him and his inability to watch the Flyers, they won’t last through the first round unfortunately. Ovechkin has been on a roll lately.

  18. mobbo says:

    Welcome to the world us MLB fans have been in for over a decade. The national blackout rules for MLB have been ludicrous since they were created. I’m an Astros fan that lives in Dallas but, for some reason, I am still in the Astros “local market” (over 250 miles away). According to the MLB blackout rules, I am supposed to be able to see Astros games on Fox Sports Net Houston, but it is up to the mercy of my cable provider to carry that channel… and it’s well known that cable companies have never ever ever ever ever ever done ANYTHING out of the goodness of their hearts to make a customer happy. So why don’t I get DirecTV and stop crying? Because I live in an apartment that doesn’t have a clear view of the southern sky, so no satellite for me.

    I can’t even get the Astros games on MLB Extra Innings ($$$) because they are blacked out since I’m in the Astro’s “local market”.

    So MLB hates $$$ apparently.

    A rule designed to create MORE FANS has alienated more fans than it has created. RETARDED!

  19. The Count of Monte Fisto says:

    On the other hand, he can get the NFL Ticket, which Comcast doesn’t offer. So glad I’m moving back to Chicago in time to see every one of Kyle Orton’s touchdowns this fall AND the Cubs winning the Series.

    @mobbo: Have you tried MLB.tv, or do you get blacked out on that too? It’s not TV quality, but it’s good.

  20. chucklebuck says:

    @mobbo:

    I’m an Astros fan in Boston, but I’m also fairly cheap and don’t have cable or satellite TV. My MLB fix pretty much comes entirely from XM Radio. I don’t get to see the action, obviously, but usually the good play highlights are online the next day and I can do other things while I listen to the action. Definitely not the same as watching the whole game, but it works for me.

    By the way, can we just have a moment of silent commiseration at what’s going to be a loooooooong season?

  21. humphrmi says:

    I realize that this won’t give any immediate effect, but you should also complain to the Flyers. Ultimately they’re the ones who want you to watch them. Neither Comcast, DirecTV, or even the NHL have enough skin in the game.

    The Flyers front office won’t fix it for you, but they are more likely to be a partner / advocate to help you lodge appropriate complaints – it’s in their best interest.

  22. Imakeholesinu says:

    As an NHL fan, I sympathize. I was thinking about getting Center ice if the Blues made the playoffs. Thank god this is charter country out here and they are too poor (inept) to have their own dedicated sports channel.

    Comcastic should be re-defined with negative connotations.

  23. xl4xlus3iehl says:

    @knightbass – You are comparing apples to oranges. The difference here is that Comcast has exclusive broadcast rights to the Flyers and Sixers and therefore they get away with this. If you want to be exclusive and have a monopoly on a particular region’s broadcasts you should have to share it with other providers. Remember last year the stink that Comcast raised over the whole Big Ten network? They were crying over just which package they could include the network in. Ditto NFL network. You can’t have it both ways Comcast.

    My understanding is this goes back to sour grapes that Comcast has with Directv over Directv’s exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket package.

  24. Youthier says:

    @The Count of Monte Fisto: So glad I’m moving back to Chicago in time to see every one of Kyle Orton’s touchdowns this fall AND the Cubs winning the Series.

    Are you moving to Chicago or Fantasyland?

  25. lightmanjk says:

    Maybe get a set of rabbit ears to get the local channels?

  26. backbroken says:

    @knightbass: Right. Only the professional sports leagues get preferential treatment from the government.

  27. stageright says:

    Don’t bother with the rabbit ears – they stink. You can build your own HDTV capable antenna and get WAY better reception (and I mean anyone can do this) for about $6.

    Just do a web search for “home made TV antenna”.

  28. Optimus says:

    @jtkooch: Even better: Find a random address in NYC that isn’t actually an apartment but shows up on Google Maps (I suggest a slum or government subsidized housing as they are unlikely to actually purchase DTV if you accidentally get a real address) and set your billing address to your current address. This will get you the “National” local channels (WNBC, WCBS, etc.) and you’ll get all but the NYC blackouts removed.

  29. katekate says:

    @Toof_75_75: I ordered the sports pack, only to find that, since I live in the baseball-free abyss of the southeastern US, I couldn’t watch ANY GAMES AT ALL, not even Braves games.

  30. On one hand this is a valid complaint. On the other hand everyone hates the Flyers.

  31. Jim says:

    @The Count of Monte Fisto: “@mobbo: Have you tried MLB.tv, or do you get blacked out on that too? It’s not TV quality, but it’s good.”

    MLB.tv is subject to blackout in the local market, nationally televised games, and the post-season. Gameday Audio is allegedly blackout free, but then you’re just getting radio anyway. I just read about MLB’s blackout policy since the local Cubs Radio affiliate dropped off the face of the earth during the off-season.

  32. gert106 says:

    Well I’ll be able to watch the game Friday.. but not in HD. Comcast Philly will blackout the Versus HD feed and show the ComcastSportsnet Philly feed which will be in digital wide-screen. Seems silly that ComcastSportsnet DC will show all the games in HD but where Comcast is headquartered they are unable to show the road games in HD.

    But remember Comcast has more HD then DirectTV.. lol

  33. Shutterman says:

    I’m a native Philadelphian living in New Mexico. I have DirecTV and the NHL Center Ice package to watch the Flyers out here. I get to watch the national games and the games broadcast on Center Ice, however, Comcast won’t allow home broadcasts to be carried on other providers so even when the Flyers play at home, I’m watching the other team’s broadcast of the game.

    A friend that used to work at Comcast said that the Wachovia Center is hardwired to Sportsnet and doesn’t broadcast over satellite, meaning there’s no signal to broadcast outside of the specific channels Comcast allows.

    I’ve learned to deal with it, and sometimes not being forced to hear Gary Dornhoeffer, a.k.a Captain Obvious, is a plus, but it would nice if the broadcasters didn’t sound disappointed ever time the team I’m rooting for scores a goal.

    Somehow, I always imagine Comcast headquarters to resemble the Death Star…

  34. DeepFriar says:

    @Toof_75_75: this has nothing to do with DirecTV and everything to do with the NHL being the most poorly run major sports league in existance.
    Exhibit A: they play on the Versus network

  35. pauljunk says:

    Comcast is doing you a service by blocking those dirty filthy stinkin cheatin flyers. Philly fans are pretty much disgusting people too.

  36. mikemar42 says:

    I didn’t quite follow the whole thing, but that sucks big time. Fuck comcast.

  37. mikemar42 says:

    1 more comment. Can’t you just pay to watch the game online ? I think its actually part of center ice… Center Ice online.

  38. qitaana says:

    Flyers are all jagoffs.

    Go Pens!

  39. @mikemar42: The game would be blacked out online for him as well.

  40. Toof_75_75 says:

    @qitaana:
    Now there’s a comment I can get behind!

  41. drummin says:

    To whomever said it’s not Comcast’s fault and it’s the Flyers, guess what – it is Comcast’s fault. Comcast now owns the Flyers and the Sixers. That’s how they got exclusive rights.

    And apparently you don’t have to make your content available to DirectTV if it isn’t transmitted over a satellite. So how did Comcast get around that – the put ComcastSportsNet in the stadium that the teams play.

  42. bsalamon says:

    Been in that situation. Try going to Comcast Sports online, I was able to watch all the local broadcasts of the playoffs there. Even those that weren’t Comcast broadcasts.

  43. karmaghost says:

    Comcast has an ongoing disagreement with our local CBS station and this means I can’t get CBS in high definition here. It’s the only local station that has this problem and it’s a bit irritating.

    I know the competition is usually a good thing, but in the case of the NHL and DirecTV, it seems to prevent customers from getting what they want as companies bicker over who can and cannot do what.

  44. meeroom says:

    We paid for the center ice package and can’t watch some Penguins games because they are only on the NHL Network, which is an extra $5 or so a month, after the $200 or so we spent on Center Ice.
    I HATE Comcast!

  45. privatejoker75 says:

    i lived in philly for years before moving to austin. i subscribed to comcast for a long time just to watch the flyers games. I finally had enough after my basic, analog cable bill for 2 TVs crested $55 a month. Now i’m a dish network fan and will be watching the playoff games on Versus in HD

  46. ganzhimself says:

    I feel your pain (sort of, anyway)… My dad and I are huge college hockey fans, specifically, we’re huge Wisconsin Badger Hockey fans. This year UW-Madison hosted the Midwest Regional, and since the Badgers made it into the playoffs, they automatically get placed in the regional they’re hosting. Well, a week before the regional, my dad broke his leg at work, and there really wasn’t any way he was going to make it to the game. He was glad to find out that Direct TV was going to have the Midwest Regional on one of their sports channels. Nope. It, along with the West Regional were blacked out for no particular reason, so he was stuck watching the East Regional. Luckily, ESPNU did show the Midwest Regional Final, unfortunately, we lost in OT 3-2.

  47. snakeattack says:

    having a flyers game blacked out is a good thing…trust me.

  48. Raving Rabbid says:

    What happened exactly?

    In 1997, Comcast took over the PRISM local PPV network…

    …so they used the land line-only infrastructure PRISM already had and turned it into CSN Philly. By doing so, it is able to avoid an FCC regulation that requires most television channels to be offered to direct broadcast satellite companies. Thus, DBS customers in the Philadelphia region do not get access to the local team’s games.

    NHL Network does have something to do with it, but the main issue is the land line problem. Comcast would actually need new infrastructure just to be forced to give this channel to DirecTV, Dish, et al.

    Cable’s Extra Innings HAS been able to use CSN Philly beginning late last baseball season, along with Rogers SportsNet Toronto, which was never carried as a feed on Extra Innings before that.

  49. Coles_Law says:

    @Imakeholesinu: I propose “Comcaster” Comcast+disaster

  50. TangDrinker says:

    We had this problem with the ‘Canes – DirectTV said we were in the local market, and therefore couldn’t get the games via Center Ice. Yeah, if by local you mean we’re in the same state, but 160 miles away. They finally figured out that they just needed to add Fox Sports South to our package (wasn’t included for some odd reason) and we were able to get most of the games.

    I wonder if the original poster can convince DirectTV to issue a refund for the games he’s not able to see?

    I sincerely hope the Flyers beat the Capitals.

  51. backbroken says:

    @qitaana: 1UP

  52. montecon says:

    @RavingRabbid: The explanation is all correct. But um.. by new infrastructure, you mean buy a satellite transmission dish which they already have, right? My own uninformed guess is that it probably costs them more to maintain the landline transmissions to each of the franchises than it would to replace it with a satellite transmission, but since satellite penetration is so much lower in Philly for just this reason, it pays to keep the system in place.

    Anyway, it sucks doubly for us Philly fans (who are forced to use Comcast (U-verse not available STILL and DBS not an option) elsewhere….

  53. mobbo says:

    @The Count of Monte Fisto: MLB.tv is blacked out, too. It goes off of billing zip codes unless you can call them up from an out of area number to “prove” you are not in that market, but your billing address is. The bad thing is that they also track your IP, so if you use Vonage or something to spoof your area code, it’s harder to spoof your IP. That would involve me leasing a server or VPS in a different state and then SSH tunnelling the feed to my house… which is just too much work just to watch a game.

    The simple fact remains though:

    -I am an Astros fan.
    -I cannot watch Astros games… even if I pay hundreds of dollars a season to the MLB.
    -MLB doesn’t care, just like my cable company even after I cancelled my service in favor of downloading my shows on BitTorrent.

    If MLB owners don’t want me to be a fan, so be it. I found a sport that welcomes me as a fan. Now I am a soccer fan. All of the Houston Dynamo (MLS) games are watchable online. No blackouts, very few commericals, and great picture quality, especially when they are broadcast on ESPN 2 HD and HDNET every week.

  54. CarMatchPro says:

    This happened to me as well, being a Leaf fan in L.A.. Bought the Centre Ice Package, but didn’t have all the games. So, upgraded the Directv package so I could see some games on NHL-N. Then I moved out and because it is the playoffs I had to buy a TV, which I really didn’t want to do just to watch the games. I bought the Centre Package online due to travelling/time constraints.
    This is a costly expense and is definitely not a shot deal like some of the other packages being offered.

  55. am84 says:

    Whatev, GO PENS!

  56. JRock says:

    Meanwhile, living in south central PA, I’ve had times where I’ve been able to watch (on Comcast) the Capitals’ home announcers on ComcastSportsNet AND watch (if I actually wanted to) the other team’s announcers on Center Ice. Flyers games usually get blacked out on Center Ice though. Actually, what pisses me off more is when the Nittany Lions games are blocked on the one ABC channel that’s in HD, so I have to watch it on the other, standard def ABC channel we get. That’s irksome.

    Oh, and go Caps. :)

  57. maevro says:

    Hey, be happy your team made the playoffs!

    /Die Hard Isles Fan

  58. Buran says:

    @karmaghost: I’m not a sports fan but I was forced to get an antenna just to watch my freaking hi-def CSI (I don’t like to watch low-def anymore if I can avoid it, I’m spoiled on hidef).

    I’m in St. Louis and the local CBS station STILL is not on Charter. Even after I’ve repeatedly filed complaints with Charter and CBS about it.

  59. Buran says:

    @mobbo: So get a friend to call?

  60. aishel says:

    Quite frankly, do you want to watch the Flyers get smitten by the Caps?

    Go Caps!

  61. mikelotus says:

    He’ll be able to watch the Flyers loose to the Caps as all the games are either on Versus or NBC on the weekends. Game 2 will be on NBC on Sunday where I can watch in high quality over the air HD. He will know the name Ovechkin before this is over.

  62. chrisroberts says:

    @humphrmi: That won’t do any good seeing as the Flyers are owned by Comcast.

    Good thought, though.

    Comcast holds onto CSN Philly because it’s really one of their last stands in their flagship market. They put Phillies games on CN8 and CSN; the same for the Sixers and Flyers. Both channels unavailable to satellite customers.

    Until FiOS entered the market — and for all the bad said about FiOS, I welcomed it into my home and thanked Jeebus for the moment I could cancel my Comcast once and for all — Comcast owned the Philly market based on one thing: Philadelphia sports fans are wildly passionate, and they’ll sacrifice service/selection/etc. to have access to their teams. Comcast exploits this as to not be embarrassed by subscribers leaving en masse in their home market.

  63. The Count of Monte Fisto says:

    @mobbo: That really sucks. I guess the only consolation is that this might be a good year not to watch many Astros games. But as a die-hard baseball fan, I know that’s not much consolation.

  64. tmlfan81 says:

    I signed up for Center Ice – rather, I tried to – at the start of the season and it was a bunch of bickering back and forth by Charter, the NHL, and Dish [?] about who can air what, etc.

    About two and a half weeks into the season I finally got Center Ice.

    I caught a few good games of the Leafs and stored them on the old DVR. Laughed every time a Blues game was blacked out.

  65. jinjin1080 says:

    I feel your pain, being a Big Ten and a Bears fan on the west coast. Best thing you can do is get a slingbox for one of your friends/family who does have comcast or find a Sopcast stream.

  66. scoosdad says:

    @quail: Yeah but the satellite companies are fighting this trick in a way by insisting that they send their contractor out to do the installation. I don’t think you can do a new self-install for either Dish or DirecTV anymore.

    However, you could let the contractor do the install out at your friend’s house in Montana, then your friend can dismantle the system and ship it to you for your own self-install wherever it’s needed. Don’t plug it into a phone line so they can’t capture the local number that it calls in from periodically, or else get a VOIP number for the receiver and have it assigned a number from a pool of numbers in the Montana location and area code. Just saying what I’ve heard…

    Another way Dish fights this is to restrict an account to a maximum of two HD receivers. There’s no technical reason a house can’t have an HD box in every room if you were willing to pay for it. But that’s their rule now.

  67. PermanentStar says:

    I go crazy b/c although comcast does broadcast a lot of the “local” hockey games (I live in the southern/western part of Virginia) but I come from Michigan, so I would rather watch the Redwings, but there’s no way for me to get them, I don’t even think I can get it with Center Ice…anybody know? I can see them every so often when the games are on NBC, but other than that…I’m out of luck.

  68. tsdguy says:

    Doesn’t really matter – I have Comcast in State College, PA and all of the Flyers games are blacked out on CSN. I bet they are also blacked out in Harrisburg also.

    I never pissed enough to write to find out why but I imagine it’s because they consider anyplace in PA to be a local market. Sure – we’re 200 miles away from Phila but we’re a local market.

    Sometimes I just watch the color bars for 2 hours…

  69. WraithSama says:

    “…watching Rex Grossman misplace footballs like they were his car keys…”

    That’s hilarious. I’m originally from Rex Grossman’s hometown, and frankly, I can’t stand him. What a pompous, egotistical ass. I’m fairly sure he started the “Sexy Rexy” nickname himself.

  70. wdnobile says:

    wait! wait! WAAAAAIIIT!!

    People still watch HOCKEY?

  71. chrisroberts says:

    @aclaver: The Flyers are blacked out in State College because it’s in the Johnstown/Altoona DMA, which is a home market for the Penguins.

    Games on CSN aren’t national broadcasts, so they’ll be blacked out outside the home DMAs. Same reason why a Red Sox or Bruins game on NESN would be blacked out for a sports package subscriber outside areas in New England.

    Harrisburg is a Flyers market. Comcast subscribers there can watch all the Flyers they want on CSN.

  72. mariospants says:

    Too bad you can’t get “Hockey Night in Canada” eh?

  73. TechnoDestructo says:

    @knightbass:

    There are plenty of people who say that government should stay out of sports…but when it annoys them that government is involved in sports. They either conveniently ignore or are completely unaware of their protected monopoly status, and taxpayer funded facilities, either one of which is enough to make professional athletics beholden to various levels of government.

  74. pal003 says:

    Hate to make this political but it is – you might as well wait to complain until 2009 and hope there is a Dem as president and a new FCC Chairman. The current FCC is much loved by Comcast. Same reason – forget Sen. Specter – he’s a Comcast favorite! I would complain to Sen. Casey and your local Congressperson, and complain to DirectTV because they have their own lobbying group through Liberty Media.

    Also file a consumer complaint in PA. I hear they are logging complaints like this.

  75. President Beeblebrox says:

    @Shutterman: No, not the Death Star, but close. It’s a postmodern 57-story skyscraper in Center City Philadelphia, paid for with a Pennsylvania state government subsidy and Comcast Nation’s subscription dollars.

    [phillyskyline.com]

    (There IS a building in Philly that looks like the Death Star, but it’s an AT&T central switching office, not surprisingly…)

    The solution for OP might be to subscribe to Comcast and watch the Flyers on CN8 or Versus (which are basically the same when it comes to hockey coverage). Then again, that would involve subscribing to Comcast. :)

  76. looklistenlink says:

    This story sounds so familiar. The NHL has a huge opportunity to expand its fan base. There are so many past fans that woud love to return to the league if only they were allowed to watch the teams they want to watch.

    1. Where can we find the actual rules for NHL Blackouts?
    2. How does one determine where the blackout zones are?
    3. If I move, I want to know where these networks and blackout zones are, how do I get informed. If it’s not online, what numbers do I call?

    For the past decade I have been unable to watch Pittsburgh Penguins games at any price. Trees in my neighborhood prevent any satelite options, so Time Warner Cable (Northeast Ohio) is the only option for sports broadcasts. My regional sports network is FSN-Ohio. The Penguins network, FSN-Pittsburgh is not offered at all. Even though FSN-Pittsburgh is not my regional network all Pens games are blacked out on Versus and Center Ice. On top of that, all Blue Jacket games are also blacked-out on FSN-Ohio. So the only hockey I’ve seen is on NBC or on NHL Network as National Broadcasts. I still can’t understand how both Pens and Blue Jackets are blacked out. If FSN-Ohio is my regional network shouldn’t I see Blue Jacket games and why are Pens blacked out. I need a better explanation and some information to make relocation decisions in the future.

  77. civicmon says:

    Comcast does the same crap with the Sixers as well. If you have DirecTV you don’t get Comcast Sportsnet and they block it out if you have their NBA league pass.

    It helps when Comcast owns Spectracor, which runs the arenas and owns the teams.

    I hate Comcast and I live in Phildaelphia!

  78. I don’t get it – I live on the Delmarva Peninsula (within 150 miles of OP) and I have DirecTv out of necessity. I get MASN and ComcastSportsNet, and haven’t missed a Caps game this year. And I don’t even buy the Sports package – that’s the two local sports services that come with my service.

    Sounds like they singled-out Philly area people to screw. Or maybe it just effects those within the main market of a club. Although my bro-in-law has DTV in Frederick, MD, qualifies for Washington DC local channels, and Comcast doesn’t screw him out of MASN and he gets the Caps games on CSN, I’m positive.

  79. JOsephSHMOE says:

    @pal003:

    I love the ‘we need a dem as president’ comment. Guess what, the legislation that allowed Comcast to carry on with blacking out flyers games was passed by an FCC commish appointed by Bill Clinton. It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle, they all love the money from big business.
    Ed Snyder, who owns the Flyers, is Chairman of Comcast-Spectator, a merger between Comcast and Spectrum Sports. Comcast was started by Snider out of the ashes of PRISM sports. This should be illegal (afterall, Microsoft got nailed for their monopoly).
    This is why I’ll always cheer against the Flyers no matter how much I hate their opponent.