A Hockey Lockout To Hockey Blackout
August 23, 2005
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.http://www.newsday.com/sports/column...rts-columnists