If you've read through my comments, you know that I have one loyal reader in WilliamInMaine, who has become almost an honorary UCB member with his time in the chat rooms on our numerous shows and reading our blogs. However, you may not know that I have more than just him reading this blog! (I know, I was a bit surprised as well.)
I got an e-mail from this reader earlier this week, asking if I'd write a little about the Fox Sports Midwest and AT&T U-Verse dispute that is going on. Always willing to try to accommodate a reader, I said I would. I know a couple ofour bloggers in the UCB have touched on this as well, as they have been personally affected by it, and I've seen a lot of the Twitterverse talking about it as well. It doesn't affect me personally, but darned if that'd stop me from writing anything.
Of course, when you look at the parties at hand it meant I had to check in with my friend Geoff at FSMW to see what he can tell me about the situation. Any errors in this discussion are mine, but here's what I understand of the whole brouhaha.
Last year, FSMW aired about 130 games, with the rest being on another station. U-Verse carried all those games per their agreement with FSMW. In 2011, though, Fox Sports Midwest was able to carry all the remaining non-nationally televised games (basically adding in the number of games KSDK carried last year) to bump their total up to 152 games.
With this increase in games came an increase in what FSMW was charging the video providers. Most of them went along without any issue, being that they were getting more content. There were a small number, U-Verse and CableOne being the largest of them, who balked at the idea. I would guess that they believed they had a deal in place that covered all Cardinal games covered by FSMW for a set price. The fact that FSMW increased the number of games they covered was not relevant from their point of view. When they couldn't come to an agreement on a deal for the extra 20, FSMW blacked them out on U-Verse as they did not have the rights to those games. You can read some quotes from both sides in this Dan Caesar column.
When I talked with Geoff, he pointed out that Fox Sports Midwest had to pay additional rights fees and increased their production costs when they took on these extra 20 games. Raising prices to recoup some of those costs is an expected part of doing business, because FSMW isn't a non-profit entity.
Apparently, since the blackouts have started at the beginning of the year, six other providers that had initially not signed the new contract have now done so, allowing for Cardinal baseball to be seen in those areas. U-Verse, however, is holding firm to their position.
What can you do as a person affected by this? The main thing is to contact U-Verse (or, if you are covered by another provider that isn't airing the games, that provider) and let them know what you want. If they hear from enough people, they have to consider if the market out there is big enough to warrant picking up the games.
Also, my reader let me know that she contacted AT&T and ranted about this situation. When she did that, AT&T offered her numerous deals, such as free upgrades to HD, discounts off her bill, and faster internet service. I've also seen where they've given free movie channels, at least for a period of time. So if you aren't happy, let them know. You might not get the games, but you'd at least get something for your time, trouble and aggravation.
The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end
awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America. These
awards can be found at the official site in October with links back to the voters,
ensuring transparency and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball