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fredfa 10-20-2005 06:01 PM

What is the hockey term for “playing hardball�

EchoStar Drops Outdoor Life from Dish Network Package

By Jon Lafayette TVWeek.com October 20, 2005

EchoStar Communications on Thursday said it dropped Outdoor Life Network from its Dish Network programming package, charging that the Comcast-owned network was demanding higher payments because it had added National Hockey League games to its lineup.

"We work hard to provide choice for our customers and keep prices low," said Eric Sahl, senior VP of programming for EchoStar in a statement. "Most of our customers have made the decision they do not want to pay the additional cost of watching that channel." EchoStar said it will replace OLN by adding College Sports TV, NFL Network and ESPNU for free for some subscribers.

OLN, which had about 3 million (Dish) subscribers, said in a statement that, "We are surprised and disappointed that Dish has unilaterally chosen to stop providing OLN to its customers--and denied fans the opportunity to watch sports coverage on OLN."

An industry insider said a Comcast negotiating team had just completed a meeting at EchoStar's headquarters in Denver when the satellite provider announced its decision to drop the network.

"We are also disappointed that EchoStar cut off the ongoing discussions with OLN that were designed to bring OLN's great programming to Dish customers," OLN said in a statement. "Fortunately, those customers do have the ability to explore other cable and satellite options that carry OLN."

http://www.tvweek.com/news.cms?newsId=8769

bgall 10-20-2005 06:13 PM

Hurray for Dish!

beaudot 10-20-2005 06:26 PM

Comcast has very little leverage on this one. Anyone who actually cares about hockey is not going count on OLN for their viewing. Thats what RSN's and Center Ice are for. Tour de France followers will probably be likely to leave dish for OLN carriage.

Todd 10-20-2005 06:31 PM

Good for Dish! Wonder what DirecTV will do....

dave99ag 10-20-2005 06:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by beaudot
Tour de France followers will probably be likely to leave dish for OLN carriage.
Hopefully D* doesn't drop OLN. That's the only way I can get some cycling on TV.

fredfa 10-20-2005 06:36 PM

You could change the Comcast statement, just a little bit, to sum up the past six months of wrangling in which Comcast has refused to carry MASN which televised almost all Washington Nationals games:

"We are also disappointed that Comcast cut off the ongoing discussions with MASN that were designed to bring Washington Nationals games to Comcast customers," MASN officials said in a statement. "Fortunately, those customers do have the ability to explore other cable and satellite options that carry MASN."

:)

beaudot 10-20-2005 06:50 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by fredfa
You could change the Comcast statement, just a little bit, to sum up the past six months of wrangling in which Comcast has refused to carry MASN which televised almost all Washington Nationals games:

"We are also disappointed that Comcast cut off the ongoing discussions with MASN that were designed to bring Washington Nationals games to Comcast customers," MASN officials said in a statement. "Fortunately, those customers do have the ability to explore other cable and satellite options that carry MASN."

:)
lol.

In both instances Comcast has put themselves in the awkward position of being both a content provider and a content distributor. They are having a tough time playing nice with competitors in one business when they put their other hat on.

chinch 10-20-2005 06:55 PM

any chance Cablevision drops OLN also?

Keenan 10-20-2005 07:33 PM

Has there been any news on the INHD/RSN being carried by DirecTV issue?

fredfa 10-20-2005 07:49 PM

INHD filed with the FCC (I think this week) and claimed that its rates were fair. It also said negotiations with Dish and DirecTV were "ongoing".

tbb1226 10-20-2005 07:53 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by keenan
Has there been any news on the INHD/RSN being carried by DirecTV issue?
Forgive me for following this OT lead, but what do you mean by "INHD/RSN?"

talbain 10-20-2005 07:58 PM

oln is one of the most wasteful channels in d*'s lineup. i would be thrilled if they dropped it. i can only stomach so much fishing and bull riding.

miketech 10-20-2005 08:24 PM

Well it obvious that greedy, monopolizing cable companies are still very greedy, monopolizing.

Quote:
oln is one of the most wasteful channels in d*'s lineup. i would be thrilled if they dropped it. i can only stomach so much fishing and bull riding.
Yeah but lots of cycling fans will disagree.
D* has over 200 channels and we only watch maybe 5-8 channels.

Quote:
Forgive me for following this OT lead, but what do you mean by "INHD/RSN?"
INHD 1&2 is Time Warner produced HDTV channels. RSN stands for regional sports network. Someone may correct me here. So far D* has been balking at INHD's price rate.
Let D* push their weight around since I would hate to pay more to D* just to pass it on to a cable co. that is greedy...... see above.....

Jimbo Moran 10-20-2005 08:26 PM

Interesting comments about OLN. We have only had it on COX cable for the last few months and I ocassionally tune in just for something that isn't available elsewhere. Shooting USA is worth watching for any other gun freaks out there. I will admit the majority of their programming is of little interest to me but with several hundred other cable channels from which to choose I don't mind it being available.

GeorgeLV 10-20-2005 08:30 PM

INHD is owned by Comcast, Time Warner and Cox. DirecTV says their pricing is unfair because they want payment for all "digital" subscribers instead of basing it on the numbers of subscribers to the HD package.

"iN DEMAND's original fee structure followed standard industry practice-basing rates on the number of subscribers who can actually receive the INHD service. After launching INHD, iN DEMAND concocted a new pricing scheme based on the total number of digital customers, even though only a small percentage of those digital customers can actually receive INHD's high-definition programming. Because all subscribers to a DBS service -- like DIRECTV - are "digital" while less than half of a typical cable system's subscribers are "digital," this pricing scheme results in an obvious discriminatory impact against DIRECTV."
http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/aboutu...id=06_29_2005B

Keenan 10-20-2005 08:46 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by miketech

INHD 1&2 is Time Warner produced HDTV channels. RSN stands for regional sports network. Someone may correct me here. So far D* has been balking at INHD's price rate.
Essentially, yes. The INHDs are owned by Cox and Comcast as well as TW.

The issue is that INHD wants to be paid for every digital sub that the satcos have, knowing full well that sat is a 100% digital format.

The satcos claim that since INHD is HD by definition, they should only have to pay per HD sub.

There are also issues over some of the cable owned RSNs being terrestrial signals which the cablcos are not required to offer to the satcos. In many systems the satellite provided INHD is pre-empted for a local sports broadcast.


Thanks for the update Fred. :)

<edit> I see GeorgeLV posted the info as well..

Keenan 10-20-2005 10:37 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by chinch
any chance Cablevision drops OLN also?
Regarding Cablevision and Dish, from the NY Times,

Now You Almost See Hockey. Now You Don't.

By RICHARD SANDOMIR
Published: October 20, 2005

If you're a Cablevision or a DISH Network satellite subscriber who looked forward to watching National Hockey League games on OLN, you've fallen victim to an anti-fan policy that boggles the mind.

The games you've expected to see since last Monday have been replaced by other programs on OLN - which, until making its deal with the N.H.L., was known largely for carrying the Tour de France - because its parent company, Comcast, wants to boost the number of its own subscribers.

It is a fine aspiration for OLN, which is in about 65 million cable homes, to want to broaden its availability, especially since it reaches 25 million fewer TV homes than ESPN and ESPN2, the league's former cable networks.

But do you deprive Cablevision and DISH viewers of what they were expecting so you can pursue the goal of rapidly increasing the number of subscribers?

What do you tell viewers who have heard about OLN's Monday and Tuesday night games and believed the promise in the network's advertising slogan, "We Believe in Hockey"?

If you're Comcast, you tell them that you have to earn back your investment, which includes $65 million for this season's TV rights, and that you're fighting other rival potentates like Cablevision and DISH to make OLN available to as many subscribers as possible.

"We had five weeks to get hockey on the air," said Jeff Shell, the president of Comcast Programming. "We moved mountains to deliver hockey to the fans."

The good will that Comcast built by stepping forward in August when ESPN declined to renew its N.H.L. deal is eroding with its demand that Cablevision and DISH rapidly accelerate their distribution of OLN - or their subscribers will be punished by getting a hockey-free version of the network.

Cablevision has the highest hurdle to meet Comcast's demand that it make OLN available to 40 percent of its nearly 3 million subscribers before hockey games will be shown on OLN on that system. Right now, only 22,000 get OLN as part of a 10-channel $4.95 digital sports package.

Comcast insists that it is fighting to make OLN available to those 3 million homes at a lower price than the 22,000 subscribers pay.

OLN is available to about 3 million of DISH's 11.4 million subscribers, but Comcast is pressing hard to have the channel moved to a less expensive tier that would greatly expand its availability.

Both Cablevision and DISH seem prepared to live with Comcast's cherry-picking of OLN hockey. "We'd like to work with them, but we won't let our customers be bullied," said Marc Lumpkin, a DISH spokesman. "We're disappointed that Comcast is not fulfilling its contractual obligations."

Charles Schueler, a spokesman for Cablevision - which has engaged in nasty disputes like refusing to carry the YES Network in 2002 - said the zapping of OLN hockey was "in violation of our contract."

"We call upon Comcast to return OLN hockey to New York fans immediately," he said.

In Cablevision's service areas in the metropolitan area, one Rangers game on OLN has already been blacked out, and six more may be denied to viewers; four Islanders games are scheduled, as are two Devils games.

Shell insisted that Comcast was correct in making its demands. About Cablevision, he said: "We've given them exactly what's in the contract. It never contemplated hockey." He added, "We don't have an obligation to add hockey unless they agree to our terms."

Even so, who thought OLN would branch into hockey, any more than HBO contracts with cable operators could contemplate a blockbuster series about a psychologically conflicted Mafia boss from New Jersey? How do you write such speculation into a contract - and how do you enforce it?

Shell was incensed that Cablevision ran newspaper advertisements last week trumpeting its digital sports offerings - called the iO Sports Pak - including "N.H.L. action all season long on OLN."

"They advertised that you should buy the sports tier when, at the very least, they knew there was a dispute," Shell said. "That's infuriating."

Schueler said the ad ran on Oct. 10, before any games were blacked out. The first OLN blackout occurred that night, and the first one involving the Rangers came in their game on Monday against Florida.

"We never imagined that Comcast would take the unprecedented step of electronically blocking hockey games and delivering a different version of OLN to New York than appears nationally," Schueler said.

This is a poor way to start the post-lockout relationship between OLN and even a relatively small sliver of fans, who need not care about Comcast's investment in production and marketing. They just see that in a short time, OLN came to hockey's rescue, and is now playing hardpuck.

The N.H.L. has not whistled this power play down, suggesting it lacks the power to do so. Bill Daly, the league's deputy commissioner, said, "We're monitoring what's going on, and we share the goal of everyone to maximize the coverage of OLN games in as many households as possible."

thumperxr69 10-20-2005 10:56 PM

Yeah for me OLN just started carrying US Motocross races this summer. They grabbed them from ESPN2 which had them for as long as I can remember. I pray that D* keeps OLN even though I am not a hockey watcher...

T

DaveInBerlinNJ 10-21-2005 05:17 AM

Doubt D* would drop OLN now... they already include it in their low-price tier... they ARE getting the NHL-OLN games.

If anything, they're MORE likely to keep OLN now, as it may add a couple NHL fans that can't get games on Cablevision, Dish etc.

CPanther95 10-21-2005 05:24 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveInBerlinNJ
Doubt D* would drop OLN now... they already include it in their low-price tier... they ARE getting the NHL-OLN games.

If anything, they're MORE likely to keep OLN now, as it may add a couple NHL fans that can't get games on Cablevision, Dish etc.
If they are:
Quote:
demanding higher payments because it had added National Hockey League games to its lineup
D* may very well reconsider carrying this channel - at least I hope they do.

Gary Murrell 10-21-2005 05:42 AM

WTF!!

Now where the hell do I watch my 5 or so Red Wings games scheduled for national broadcast only on OLN ??, Nowhere is where I watch them :mad:

But I am glad that Dish stood up

:( :( :(

-Gary

ehren 10-21-2005 05:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Murrell
WTF!!

Now where the hell do I watch my 5 or so Red Wings games scheduled for national broadcast only on OLN ??, Nowhere is where I watch them :mad:

But I am glad that Dish stood up

:( :( :(

-Gary
Same goes for me Flyers, ARGH!!!!!!!!

Baler 10-21-2005 05:47 AM

This is all eerily reminiscent of the Cable Cos vs. ESPN. Mickey wants the big ops to pay for ESPN content based on all subs vs. just those who can receive the programming. Wonder why you don't have ESPN2 HD?

Steve Wright 10-21-2005 06:04 AM

I find it so very hard to find a bad guy in this situation, as both Comcast and Dish are not my favorite providers by far. I have had bad experiences with both. Dish seems to be doing the same thing with OLN as it has done with YES. Sports programming just does not seem to be a priority for Dish. Comcast, is just as guilty for trying to pass off exhorbitant carriage fees. I don't think they are trying to recoup their investment, but instead trying to woo subscribers back to cable and make a little extra money at the same time. Something may have to be done legislatively to correct the mess that is going on with carriage owners controlling content.

CPanther95 10-21-2005 06:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baler
This is all eerily reminiscent of the Cable Cos vs. ESPN. Mickey wants the big ops to pay for ESPN content based on all subs vs. just those who can receive the programming. Wonder why you don't have ESPN2 HD?
Except OLN will find out that a handful of NHL games doesn't offer the same kind of leverage that an NFL game does.

RemyM 10-21-2005 06:09 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by chinch
any chance Cablevision drops OLN also?
According to this they have no plans to.

Dish slashes Comcast's NHL channel

By Andrew Wallenstein
Reuters
Friday, October 21, 2005; 1:39 AM

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - A three-way brawl over National Hockey League games has broken out among Comcast, Cablevision and EchoStar, which on Thursday ejected the Comcast-owned OLN channel from its Dish Network lineup.

Earlier this month, Comcast began replacing NHL games scheduled on the channel with other OLN programing on systems run by Cablevision and EchoStar. The two distributors were put in Comcast's penalty box because they put OLN on channel tiers available to fewer than 40 percent of their subscribers, according to a Comcast spokesman.

Sources said EchoStar stunned Comcast brass by yanking the channel without warning. Company executives flew to the satellite service's Denver headquarters Thursday to negotiate a truce, but after 10 minutes of discussion, EchoStar ended the meeting, citing an unspecified crisis.

By the time the Comcast delegation's plane touched down at its home base in Philadelphia, EchoStar had issued a statement signaling its intent to pull the plug.

In a statement Thursday, EchoStar blasted Comcast's "strong-arm tactics," explaining that moving OLN to a more accessible tier would result in the satellite service having to pay more for the channel, a cost it would be forced to pass on to customers.

"We work hard to provide choice for our customers and to keep prices low," EchoStar senior vp programing Eric Sahl said in the statement.

OLN countered with a statement of its own. "We are surprised and disappointed that Dish has unilaterally chosen to stop providing OLN to its customers. ... We are also disappointed that EchoStar cut off the ongoing discussions with OLN."

MORE BAD NEWS FOR HOCKEY

The OLN blackout represents a setback for the perennially struggling NHL, which signed away its TV rights to Comcast in August for a three-year deal estimated to be worth $200 million. After ESPN declined to pick up another hockey season amid poor ratings and a lockout that canceled the 2004-05 season, the league suddenly is seeing its visibility reduced in key markets like the New York-New Jersey area that Cablevision serves.

Thus begins another contentious face-off between programing and distribution in the subscription-TV world, which, like hockey itself, is occasionally marred by nasty battles pitting combatants capable of landing low blows.

EchoStar chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen has shown that he is more than willing to pull the jersey over a programmer's head. In March 2004, he removed all Viacom-owned channels from Dish Network for 48 hours before reaching a new carriage deal with the conglomerate. In January 2001, it took a federal injunction to keep EchoStar from dumping Walt Disney Co.-owned ABC Family in a similar fracas.

But now EchoStar is going toe-to-toe with Comcast, the biggest cable operator in the country and owner of a growing portfolio of channels, including E! Networks, Golf Channel and G4.

Cablevision has no plans to pull OLN, according to a spokesman. But the operator isn't giving up the fight, either. "We continue to carry OLN, and we continue to call upon them to cease their illegal electronic blocking of hockey games in New York," the spokesman said.

EchoStar currently slots OLN on its America's Top 180 channel package, which isn't as popular among its 11.4 million subscribers. Cablevision slots OLN on a separate sports tier that costs an additional $4.95.

Comcast wants to see both distributors upgrade OLN to channel positions that will put them in front of 40 percent of their subscriber bases, commonly accepted as the baseline for pro sports programing.

Formerly known as Outdoor Life Network, OLN is available in 65 million homes.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

RemyM 10-21-2005 06:12 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by dave99ag
Hopefully D* doesn't drop OLN.
Why would they, they are getting the NHL games.

curtis0620 10-21-2005 06:25 AM

This is a breach of contract by E*. I wouldn't be surprised if Comcast doesn't pull all their other networks from E*.

CycloneGT 10-21-2005 06:42 AM

Its not a breach if Comcast changes the asking rate in mid contract, and Dish declines to pay. I would say that Comcast is the one who has changed things here. Dish has had OLN for years and years without issue.

I'm not sure how long Comcast has owned OLN.

I think that the big picture here is that Comcast wants OLN to become a national player with the weight of ESPN. The only trouble that that its not ESPN and Comcast is acting as if they can push it around like it is.

I'm in Charlie's corner on this one.

jake14mw 10-21-2005 06:57 AM

Good for Dish. We can't let every channel demand that they be on a basic tier. We have tiers so that people who don't want extra programming don't have to pay for it. The demand for OLN is low, so it deserves to be on a higher priced package.


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