Jason Cohen forwards the following item from the LA Times’ Larry Stewart, taking a dim view of the former Outdoor Life Network’s NHL deal.
The cable network, whose contract with the NHL gives it exclusive broadcasting rights throughout this best-of-seven series, reaches only 49% of the cable TV households in the greater Los Angeles market, which includes Orange County.
Bill Padian of Torrance is among the disgruntled fans.
“You believe this is a way to market a product that is already the most ignored sport in the U.S.?” he said in an e-mail that he also sent to the Ducks. “If this was the Lakers, Laker fans would go berserk and the team and the league would both be in court facing an injunction.”
How many fans might be left in the dark isn’t certain.
OLN is available with DirecTV and can be purchased by Dish Network customers as part of a premium package. The cable giant Comcast, which owns OLN, and Time Warner make the network available to most of their customers as part of a basic package. But other companies ” Adelphia, Charter and Cox among them ” generally offer OLN only on a digital tier for a higher monthly fee. For example, if a Cox subscriber upgrades to digital, the additional cost is $9.50 a month.
Ducks senior vice president Bob Wagner isn’t happy about this.
“We support the NHL and its broadcast effort, but this is frustrating for us and our fans and we are sorry for the inconvenience,” he said. “Our goal is to expose this franchise to the entire market.”
If the Ducks advance against the Oilers, OLN again has exclusive rights to broadcast the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals. The remaining games will be televised by NBC. For this upcoming round, NBC had rights only to Saturday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference series between the Buffalo Sabres and the Carolina Hurricanes.
Yet in Buffalo, which faced the same OLN predicament, Adelphia on Thursday agreed to move OLN from a digital tier to a package available to all customers. According to SportsBusiness Daily, Adelphia estimates that only 10% of its roughly 300,000 customers there subscribe to its digital tier.