When the NHL officials drop the puck to start the game between the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning, every home in Western New York and Southern Ontario will be able to watch as WGRZ (Channel 2 in Buffalo/Channel 10 in Rochester) will carry the game.
It’s not a pirated feed that Channel 2 is broadcasting, but a three way agreement between the Buffalo Sabres, WGRZ and MSG have agreed upon to allow Buffalo Sabres fans to watch their team play dedicated, back against the wall, determined to make the playoff’ style hockey.
MSG and the Buffalo Sabres have hosted various viewing parties and other events to give people the chance to see their favorite hockey players take to the ice. MSGs willingness to make concessions on their broadcasting agreement with the Buffalo Sabres does have me raising an eyebrow or two.
Follow the jump to follow my logic as to what could be happening with the whole TWC/MSG battle.
As a TWC subscriber, I am a little biased when it comes to talking about the blackout, because well, other than the odd game on NBC Sports, and the bad pirated feeds – have missed most of the Buffalo Sabres action since the change in the calender year. Who knows if MSG will ever appear on my television again. Switching providers in not really an option for me based on where I live – plus its a super huge inconvenience. At first I thought, this won’t go on for long, no sense in getting frustrated, its only going to be a short period of time before games return to the television. days turned into weeks, and we are now working on the second month of blackout, so my frustration level has grown.
Both sides will not budge on the negotiating table, and we have been very forthright on your options to both let Time Warner Cable and MSG vent your frustrations. Here are my issues with the whole battle:
-MSG is gaining favor on my side. Despite wanting the hike in rates and asking TWC to carry a channel that few subscribers will watch, MSG has continued to work with the team to bring the Sabres to the eyes of the fans. Hosting viewing parties, allowing the game to be broadcast on Channel 2. Granted, MSG is just trying to put up the appearance of the good guy to get people to switch to providers that carry their network – which is why you will see some viewing parties and some budging on the network. They are however allowing their feed on another TWC channel without receiving anything from TWC.
-I have had two conversations with Time Warner representatives in the last week or so. Both refused to give me a credit stating that Time Warner Cable bills are based on a package of programming, and not just one or two stations. When I asked what TWC was going to do then to retain me as a customer – I was prompted by the representative asking me if I wanted to know how to cancel my services. Very quickly after that they typed in asking me to ignore their last statement. Subliminal message? My last representative was from Albany – he told me straight out when I asked, he was not a Sabres fan. Late last week I got a true company man, as the analyst responded to my questions as if he had no keyboard, only a monitor and a mouse to select prewrittine, TWC scrubbed answers.
The Buffalo Sabres should take note of this – and when it comes time to negotiate another deal with a television partner, they do the following:
1. Sign a shorter term deal.
2. Include a clause in the deal that ensures incidents like this can’t happen, give the ability to get out of the deal if the channels feed is pulled from a carrier who covers the bulk of the fanbase.
3. Choose a local carrier.
4. Make a regional sports network work. This area is so starved for action sports that you could fill a regional local cable channel with semi-pro, pro, high school, and other sports.