Philadelphians With DirecTV Now Have No Way Of Watching Phillies Baseball On TV

For years, Philadelphia Phillies fans with DirecTV have found themselves unable to watch most of the team’s games because the satellite provider and Comcast refuse to come to a resolution over the channel that carries those contests. Now another annoying slap-fight between DirecTV and a broadcaster has left its Philadelphia-area subscribers completely in the dark for this upcoming baseball season.

Over the weekend, DirecTV and the Tribune Company could not come to terms over their contract before it expired on April 1. So the Tribune folks pulled their channels from DirecTV in 19 markets on Sunday.

In Philadelphia, this means that DirecTV customers might not have access to the handful of Phillies games broadcast by WPHL 17. Problem is, until now those have been the only games available to DirecTV customers.

See, most games are broadcast by the local Comcast SportsNet franchise. Until early 2010, Comcast did not have to make this channel available to satellite providers because it never went out over the air. The FCC closed this so-called “terrestrial loophole” and Comcast was ordered to make CSN Philadelphia available to satellite providers.

But two years later, neither DirecTV nor Dish carries the channel, though they both claim to be “in negotiation” with Comcast to carry it.

Sources tell Consumerist that Comcast is demanding a significantly higher price for CSN Philadelphia than it does for comparable channels, or what it charges to other cable carriers in the area.

Meanwhile, non-satellite options for watching the games are limited by Major League Baseball’s moronic blackout rules.

A subscriber to the MLB.tv online package has no access to local games until hours after they are completed. And even when a Phillies game is broadcast on the MLB Network, which DirecTV does carry, if the game is also being shown by a local outlet, DirecTV subscribers are out of luck.

There is good ol’ over-the-air antenna service for the 40 or so games shown on PHL17 every season. But many people, particularly in the city, have trouble getting a quality signal from the station.

Of course, the problem for Phillies fans with DirecTV is nothing compared to NYC sports fans with the bad fortune to have Dish Network. They can’t get Knicks or Rangers games on MSG, Mets games on SNY or watch the Yankees on YES.

We’ve attempted to contact all the players in this game, to little avail. Major League Baseball says “it’s not a league issue.” The FCC refuses to comment. And an attempt to get a comment from Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey eventually resulted in a response to an inquiry about PIPA legislation that we never made.

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  1. scoutermac says:

    Apparently the CW in Indianapolis ( channel 4 http://www.indianas4.com ) is also no longer on Directv.

  2. rpm773 says:

    Sounds like DirecTv needs to send its negotiators back down to the minors.

    • Jawaka says:

      I have no sympathy for Fox trying to charge Direct TV for broadcasting channels that are free to view over the air. I’m also tired of all the ads on Fox that serve no purpose other than to try to outrage consumers into going to a pro-Fox website and registering their support.

  3. PhiTauBill says:

    Some background on CSN access to DirecTV and other competing providers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comcast_SportsNet_Philadelphia

    Verizon FIOS had the same issue with carrying HD feeds of MSG (broadcast home to the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres) in the NYC area and upstate NY markets (for the Buffalo Sabres), and it took multiple lawsuits to finally get access.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MSG_Network
    http://www.engadget.com/2011/12/19/after-legal-battle-msg-hd-channels-finally-arrive-on-verizon-fi/
    http://policyblog.verizon.com/BlogPost/642/VerizonAsksFCCtoRuleonMSGHDChannels.aspx

    Doesn’t seem as though DirecTV is quite as diligent in pursuing CSN as Verizon was re MSG HD.

  4. Mr Grey says:

    My fandom would require me to buy a Roku, and subscribe to MLB.tv until this is resolved.

    Thankfully I get Brewer games OTA

    • nishioka says:

      If you live in the home TV market you’re blacked out by MLB.tv too… so for your solution to work you’d have to be willing to wait until the games show up on the archive to watch them.

      • tbax929 says:

        I no longer live in the Philly market, but this is the team I follow. I have to watch my games delayed anyway because I’m three hours behind their time zone and usually at work when the games are on.

        As someone who does this, I hate watching sports after the fact. It’s hard enough to avoid finding out the outcome, but it’s not the same as watching it live. That’s the price I pay for living away from my team’s city.

        The benefit, however, is that I can get all the games on my DirecTV package and don’t have to deal with the Comcast/My17 bullcrap.

      • ReaperRob says:

        I hate the black out rules, I’m counted as home area for the Braves (6 hours away), the Rays (8), and the Marlins, (14)

    • 3fingerbrown says:

      These games are broadcast by WPHL. Available OTA. The Roku would be subject to blackout rules, so I don’t think that would work. A computer and a VPN would be the answer.

    • Mr Grey says:

      A few games subject to blackout is better than nothing – which is what the Phillies phan may wind up with.

    • Chmeeee says:

      That still wouldn’t work as you would be blacked out.

  5. TBGBoodler says:

    It’s a good thing baseball sucks, then.

    *ducking*

    • nybiker says:

      I’m not saying sports suck, but I am glad I no longer have any interest in following the Mets (I did until the baseball strike of 1994).

  6. glebe says:

    Is the Comcast vs DirecTV feud limited to Philly? When I had DirecTV in DC I got the local DC Comcast SportsNet

  7. mrvw says:

    The Fox that I get, no idea what the actual channel is, is on this list too. Kind of made me mad I couldn’t watch Fox cartoons last night.

  8. Doc_Stew says:

    We lost WGN in Chicago too! No way to watch the Cubs lose!

  9. ansjc09 says:

    Comcast does this to RCN (cable company in Allentown). RCN has comcast sports network (CSN), but not THE comcast network (TCN), so my boyfriend misses a number of the games. As a Pirates fan in eastern PA, I just give up and ignore baseball.

  10. AtlantaCPA says:

    “an attempt to get a comment from Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey eventually resulted in a response to an inquiry about PIPA legislation that we never made.”

    - this is the funniest thing I have seen this morning!

  11. rdclark says:

    I thought the right to watch your home team on free broadcast TV was guaranteed by the Constitution.

    This is not America.

  12. dpeters11 says:

    DirecTV said that they had a handshake deal, and that Tribune changed their mind. No idea how true that is.

  13. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    “Philadelphians With DirecTV Now Have No Way Of Watching Phillies Baseball On TV”

    …because no TV stations in Philly broadcast OTA?

    This BS, and the other notes about Dish, are nothing but pure whining and entitlement by petulant users. If your paid-for TV service doesn’t provide something you want, then don’t use it. And/or get the other content OTA.

    …and if the stuff you want to watch isn’t available on *anything* – OTA, cable, satellite, internet – then I guess it’s time to get a hobby.

    • SerenityDan says:

      except most Phillies games are ONLY broadcast on Comcast SportsNet, which you cannot get OTA.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Then it sounds like, if you just *must* see those games, you need Comcast.

        Or a new hobby.

        I would suggest that it might even make more sense to appeal to the Phillies themselves, to put pressure on Concast (ha – that was a typo but I like it) to open up. Or for the Phillies to contract to a different carrier. The Phillies are going to care a lot more about losing fans than the TV providers are going to care about their subscribers…who ultimately wind up picking one or the other anyway.

        • itsjustjane says:

          It works out really well when you’re “forced” to sign up with Comcast and then you have to deal with their horrendous service. I recently lived in Philly and FiOS wasn’t available in our area and since I was living with a huge Phillies fan, we had to sign up with Comcast. And from the get go there were issues with the installation, connection problems, the internet was horrific. I personally don’t care that much because I don’t watch baseball, but it still sucks to be stuck with their awful-ness when all you wanna do is watch your local team.

          • YouDidWhatNow? says:

            …then as noted that message is probably best taken to the Phillies themselves. They’re the ones losing out on viewership because of the limited availability of their broadcasts.

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      Most Phillies regular season games are shown on Comcast Sportsnet, which you can only get via Comcast or Verizon Fios.

  14. Torchwood says:

    DirecTV needs ti tell Tribune to pound sand.

  15. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    The blackout rules are as much or more to blame than the spat between the content carriers. I love baseball, but having just also finished reading Moneyball, this issue reminds me that MLB is like a T. Rex trying to perform brain surgery. They need to evolve or die.

  16. Doughboy says:

    I get that sports programming is lucrative, but again what is the purpose of being heavy handed. What does it serve a content provider like Tribune to shut out users? Yeah I get it’s about profits but if they push too hard they will lose money in the end. Eventually I see consumers getting fed (if not already) turning to other means or just giving up pay tv for this kind of crap.

    I’m hoping it pushed the growth of a la carte options where media choices are only sold to those that want them. It’s going to be interesting seeing the marketing on the ESPN subscription going for the low low price of $40 a month.

  17. Doughboy says:

    I get that sports programming is lucrative, but again what is the purpose of being heavy handed. What does it serve a content provider like Tribune to shut out users? Yeah I get it’s about profits but if they push too hard they will lose money in the end. Eventually I see consumers getting fed (if not already) turning to other means or just giving up pay tv for this kind of crap.

    I’m hoping it pushed the growth of a la carte options where media choices are only sold to those that want them. It’s going to be interesting seeing the marketing on the ESPN subscription going for the low low price of $40 a month.

  18. u1itn0w2day says:

    On one hand Comcast paid to broadcast those games on the other they should not be able to extort the fans into buying their service because that’s what this sounds like-extortion.

    But this is why I don’t give two craps if the local sports team is on tv or not. I listen on the radio more than I sit down and watch a game anyway. When driving or even at home because I can do other things when listening on the radio. Also makes nice background noise when you don’t feel like music or talk radio.

  19. blogger X says:

    “And an attempt to get a comment from Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey eventually resulted in a response to an inquiry about PIPA legislation that we never made.”

    Our Government at work :)

  20. dush says:

    I bet if no one went to a game until this got worked out things would be quickly corrected.

  21. lastingsmilledge says:

    does anyone have a link to the .pdf (it might have been a scribd doc) that shows how much the carriers are forced to charge each customer for each channel? i think it was posted on the consumerist two months ago – i remember ESPN3D and ESPN being the most expensive by a longshot.

    i’ve been searching for that info for weeks – thanks!

    • mbz32190 says:

      WPHL is an OTA channel anyway. Hook up an antenna and stop whining. I really don’t think anyone really watches it (or the non-tribune owned CW station in town for that matter) besides for Phillies games. Every other time I turn it on, it is reruns of Two and a Half Men.

  22. bben says:

    Because of crap like this I have completely lost interest in TV sports. I just don’t bother to watch even when they are broadcast locally. I cut my cable mainly because I could never seem to get the game I wanted to watch. Then cut the baseball entirely 2 years ago when there was some kind of spat between baseball and the cable co. A bunch of millionaires squabbling about who should get more. (both lose) If I want to watch baseball, I take my grandkids to see a local minor league team 3 or 4 times a season.

  23. mbz32190 says:

    WPHL is an OTA channel anyway. Hook up an antenna and stop whining. I really don’t think anyone really watches it (or the non-tribune owned CW station in town for that matter) besides for Phillies games. Every other time I turn it on, it is reruns of Two and a Half Men.

  24. Commissar Yarrrrrrr says:

    I lost a “CW” station here in LA as well. KTLA 5, the only channel I can stand for morning and evening news (as a former broadcaster, I take every technical hiccup and ball drop like nails on a chalk board), and the only station that doesn’t piss me off in the morning and gives me actual news when I’m getting ready.

    I don’t honestly know who to be pissed at. I already pay extra to Direct TV to get my local channels, it makes the desire to push to no cable/Direct TV even more once I move.

  25. Jemaine says:

    A lot of the games are on local tv right? Just get some rabbit ears/digital box and watch away.

  26. axiomatic says:

    It is completely unconscionable that customers get caught in these spats. Companies who do this deserve the public shame we nail them with appropriately.

  27. FLConsumer says:

    Screw ‘em. Don’t support the team either, and write a letter to the team’s management letting them know exactly why they won’t be getting your support.

  28. gman863 says:

    If not for this article, as a DirecTV subscriber it would have taken me at least a month to notice CW 39 had disappeared from the channel lineup in Houston.

    Given their shitty ratings, the last thing CW 39 needs to do is block its DirecTV signal. As we speak, I suspect the ambulance chasing attorneys and shady vo-tech schools that make up 75% of their advertiser base are pulling their ads like rats jumping off a sinking ship.

  29. NeverLetMeDown says:

    This is actually a weird case, since Directv and tribune actually had a deal, but then tribune’s management got overruled by its creditors (tribune’s in bankruptcy proceedings). Directv has a petition in at the FCC asking for the channels to be reinstated, saying, in essence “the law says we have to negotiate with these people, but the people we’re being told to negotiate with can’t actually make any decisions!”

  30. big_d says:

    throw snowballs at ‘em!

  31. emptyV says:

    firstrowsports.eu all sporting events free…for now…until they take it down again

  32. Robert Nagel says:

    Buy either a slingbox or a Volkano box and talk someone out of the area into letting you install one on their system. The image pixalates every once in a while, but the audio is okay and the overall presentation is passable.

  33. dwfmba says:

    Basically what happened in NY a few years ago with Cablevision?

  34. soj4life says:

    Time to switch back to cable.