Just when you thought hockey was back, troubling news has surfaced for fans on Long Island and around the metro area.
Cablevision has 3 million subscribers, and if any of them were thinking of spending $4.95 a month for the digital sports tier that carries OLN, the channel that is replacing ESPN and ESPN2 for the NHL's national cable telecasts this season, they can forget it. The puck stops here.
Up to 78 regular-season games, including as many as eight Rangers, eight Devils and eight Islanders games, as well as a slate of Stanley Cup playoff games and Games 1 and 2 of the Finals, won't be available to you on OLN, we've learned.
Why? Because OLN is on expanded basic digital service in 90 percent of its U.S. distribution of 64 million homes, but not in Cablevision households on Long Island, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Westchester and northern New Jersey.
So, in the latest twist in the wacky world of cable, even if you're willing to pay to watch the NHL here, you can't buy it.
"In markets where OLN is offered on a digital sports tier, which includes Cablevision, we are required through our contracts to black out the games," an OLN spokesperson confirmed yesterday. "There will be alternative programming in that time slot. We are working with our affiliates on the situation. We believe OLN should be included on expanded basic, not a sport tier."
Bull-riding rather than Rangers, perhaps?
It's all about leverage: OLN wants Cablevision to make the channel available to all potential viewers and charge Cablevision a broad-based fee. Viewers, again, are the pawns.
Not only will the Rangers-Flyers season opener Oct. 5 - an OLN exclusive - be unavailable to Cablevision subscribers, the rest of OLN's NHL schedule, primarily on Monday and Tuesday nights, will go unseen in one of the NHL's largest markets.
Anytime OLN chooses to air a Rangers, Devils or Islanders game here, Cablevision subscribers will be totally shut out. The conflict affects only Cablevision subscribers, not Time Warner customers in Manhattan and Queens or DirecTV and DISH Network subscribers who receive OLN as part of a general programming package.
This isn't the first time that the Lovely Lords of Cable here on Long Island have decided that we're not worthy of even having the choice to purchase extra programming special that we might want. (They pulled this same shit with YES a few years back out of spite for losing the Yankees' programming for the regional sports networks that they own.) I'm not a Cablevision customer any more (thank the gods above for DirecTV) but it just burns my blood that they're allowed to get away with this nonsense whenever they want and still maintain an illegal monopoly which allows them to gouge customers who have few or no alternatives.
smark/net attack Advisory System Status is: Elevated (Holds; July 5, 2005) It's good to see that the WWE isn't backing away from Batista or Cena. There's still some questions lingering over a few of the draft moves they either made or didn't make (Jericho being a prime example), but the stage is set for a solid run to Summerslam that may send the indicator down. The longer Triple H stays away is also a plus...
and here in my section of NJ, OLN is part of the Digital Movies & More package from Patriot Media. It means that I will have to pay for the Sundance Channel, Fox Movie Classics, the Hallmark Movie Channel and other stellar offerings like these in order watch the NHL - my hopeless daily email campaign to Patriot Media has already begun...
Switching from a tight Man to Man to a loose Zone...
Watch the Olympics, mentally plug in all of the skating talent that is in the NHL and tell me that the game wouldn't be a hell of a lot more exciting - you'd have baseball scores (7-6) instead of soccer scores (1-0).