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PJStar.com: "Blackouts give DirecTV a black eye"


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#26 OFFLINE   BJM

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 08:50 PM

I don't subscribe to the out of market sports packages because I'm not that fanatical :). But I agree with the posters that the system is poorly set up. And I too blame the sport and the regional networks over D*.

My suggestion (which I've made elsewhere) which would probably fix the system (though it doubt it would be a big seller) is to create a subscription that *guarantees* all the games of a particular team. In some sports, it would be easier - I haven't heard much complaints about NBA games. But because there are so many baseball games, the RSNs and local stations are much more involved.
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#27 OFFLINE   bonscott87

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 08:54 PM

Way to take my quote entirely out of context, bonscott... thanks for that. :rolleyes:


Sorry about that. My post was more directed to many comments that it's D*'s fault, not to you directly.

#28 OFFLINE   Sharkie_Fan

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 09:26 PM

Sorry about that. My post was more directed to many comments that it's D*'s fault, not to you directly.


No worries... just havin some fun... This is just one of the joys of forum communication.. the conversation is so disjointed and all over the place its just too easy to write something that gets "lost in translation" a little bit... ;)

I have to say though, I find this whole discussion fascinating...

The op linked to an article that basically outlined the fact that FSN MW is deliberately blacking out certain customers in an attempt to parlay that into easier access to their channel.... and yet the posts come rolling in about how D* needs to fix this.

Frankly, though I'm not affected by them in the least, I find FSN-MWs actions deplorable... It's kind of "two wrongs don't make a right" kind of thing. I know it's a bit of a naive idea to think that ANYONE in corporate america would put the consumer before profits, but really... do you think FSNMW gives a damn about the consumer on this one? They're after the bucks from getting a broader audience.... If they really cared so deeply about the consumer they'd find a better way to further their agenda than to deliberatly withhold programming from the consumer... And yet, still, D* gets vilified for it...

#29 OFFLINE   lewah33

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 10:16 PM

You are totally correct. But there are those that would rather shoot the messenger.


I think there are 2 issues on the table. One is FSNMW's power play, trying to get their FSN on the basic tier. The other issue is D*'s deceptive or incompetent customer service staff.

Fact is, D* doesn't train the people who answer the phone well enough, so they cannot provide accurate service, and D* ends up with PR problems like these. Someone in El Segundo did a cost benefit analysis, and figured it would be cheaper to pay back customers who complain vehemently than to give accurate information.

Its a simple business decision. Its nefarious, and it is the reason I will leave Directv the minute they no longer have the NFL exclusive.

#30 OFFLINE   bwaldron

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 11:38 PM

I think there are 2 issues on the table. One is FSNMW's power play, trying to get their FSN on the basic tier. The other issue is D*'s deceptive or incompetent customer service staff.

Fact is, D* doesn't train the people who answer the phone well enough, so they cannot provide accurate service, and D* ends up with PR problems like these. Someone in El Segundo did a cost benefit analysis, and figured it would be cheaper to pay back customers who complain vehemently than to give accurate information.

Its a simple business decision. Its nefarious, and it is the reason I will leave Directv the minute they no longer have the NFL exclusive.


Understand where you're coming from...though I don't attribute any nefarious motives to the CSRs in general -- just incompetence when it comes to dealing with sports blackouts.

And in my experience the customer service grass is a lot less green with other providers...but YMMV.

#31 OFFLINE   Satelliteracer

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:08 AM

I don't care if there's 10,000,002 things that come into play!!!
D*, E*, and Cable need to all use the same set of rules.

So have one meeting of all the parties releated to baseball broadcasts.
And another meeting of all the parties related to basketball broadcasts.
And another meeting of all the parties related to hockey broadcasts.

STRAIGHTEN OUT THE SYSTEM!!!

AND Make the system have a way for a customer to contact the provider during a blacked out game towhere the provider get get on the phone with the broadcaster and the particular sport's front office ... so an incorrect blackout can immediately be corrected when a customer complains.

If each party involved needs to hire people for JUST THIS PURPOSE, then dammit-all, DO IT!! Sports subscriptions bring in HEAVY REVENUE and the customers should not be forced to suffer from "lack of communication" between the all the parties who are profiting from those revenues.


Well that's just it, you're making the mistake that they all operate under the same parameters and they do not.

Let me give you an example. The local cable company in St. Louis may have a deal with that RSN that allows them to deliver Cardinals games to everyone in the Cardinals "territory". Dish and DIRECTV may not have that deal with that RSN and thus are only allowed to provide the games outside deemed territory.

It's a very basic example, but the bigger point is that not everyone has the same deal especially on a local level.

I'm sure you will recall years ago when Echostar did not carry Fox Sports West 2 here in Los Angeles....had nothing to do with communications, just that each MSO has to cut various deals with each of the RSN's, etc....not all deals are the same.

#32 OFFLINE   saleen351

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 10:07 AM

The NFL got it right, just play all games! However I understand that baseball is different and needs different rules however, times are changing and MLB needs to go to the NFL system.

In 4 years, only 1 NFL game has been blacked out for me. It was a Skins game vs the Raiders I think in week 1 a few years back.

However, I've gotten way more YES games this year, woohooo!

#33 OFFLINE   bonscott87

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:34 PM

Well, the only blackouts the NFL has is for a non-sellout.
Then there is the Sunday Ticket "brownout" which is if a game is on a local broadcast station then it's not available on Sunday Ticket.

But it is ineed simple and consistant across the country.

MLB on the other had is different from team to team and even county to county. It's crazy.

#34 OFFLINE   Ext 721

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:57 PM

THere are areas that are in the FSN Midwest home territory but are NOT in Cardinals home territory. Technically, Cardinals games in that area are "out of market" and should be available through EI. However, FSN Midwest is trying to pull a power play and so they are executing their right to broadcast Cardinal games within their home territory - then turning around and blacking out the broadcast to customers who are not in the cardinal's home territory.

So, there are a number of cardinal fans across the midwest who cannot receive cardinal games on their televisions. EI blacks them out because their local RSN has the broadcast rights and is broadcasting the game. The local RSN in their attempt to force the carrier's hand has chosen to black out those same customers because they are not in cardinal territory and therefore, technically, it's an out of market game that you're not allowed to receive....

Frankly, if only a few thousand are being deprived of the ability to watch games, I don't see how that's really going to do much to make D* change their ways....


I can forsee the "real" reason for this...

Cardinals are very popular team now. (go figure)
Cardinals want more money for their games. (per territory)
RSN not willing to pay.

and the final outcome of almost every blaxkout equation: fans get screwed.
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#35 OFFLINE   Ext 721

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 01:29 PM

Understand where you're coming from...though I don't attribute any nefarious motives to the CSRs in general -- just incompetence when it comes to dealing with sports blackouts.

And in my experience the customer service grass is a lot less green with other providers...but YMMV.


IT comes from several factors. The first of which is that blackouts are often applied willy-nilly by the teams, leagues, or RSNs...and each layer of the onion has some say.

It's constantly changing, so educating anyone on exactly why would be impossible.

And the information systems would have to be updated constantly, because often, blackouts change within a single day, or even from one half of a game to the other.

And since roughly half of blackouts occur because the companies involved are simply not willing to lose money on sports, telling a customer "that game is blacked out because someone would have to pay $100,000 more for your region/zip code , and there simply aren't enough fans there to justify spending the money" would send someone through the roof.


But the #1 reason companies won't ever have a "blackout CSR"?

Blacked out sports customers are the most vile, toxic, repugnant angry retards on the face of the planet, for the few minutes when they realize they cannot see their game. I've talked to a few. They literally foam at the mouth and break objects.

No-one would ever stay in that position for long, even if it paid $100k.
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#36 OFFLINE   Ext 721

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 02:02 PM

I don't subscribe to the out of market sports packages because I'm not that fanatical :). But I agree with the posters that the system is poorly set up. And I too blame the sport and the regional networks over D*.

My suggestion (which I've made elsewhere) which would probably fix the system (though it doubt it would be a big seller) is to create a subscription that *guarantees* all the games of a particular team. In some sports, it would be easier - I haven't heard much complaints about NBA games. But because there are so many baseball games, the RSNs and local stations are much more involved.


An individual subscriber would probably end up being required to pay DEARLY!!! for this, since it would have to be added as an "exception" clause to every sports distribution contract written. In addition, the "rights" of the little local stations would have to be considered, and the games shown *over* their typical dominance, since it's easy to accidentally black out.

It may become feasible once teams see YES and other team-owned channels doing well.
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#37 OFFLINE   bwaldron

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 04:47 PM

IT comes from several factors. The first of which is that blackouts are often applied willy-nilly by the teams, leagues, or RSNs...and each layer of the onion has some say.

It's constantly changing, so educating anyone on exactly why would be impossible.

And the information systems would have to be updated constantly, because often, blackouts change within a single day, or even from one half of a game to the other.

And since roughly half of blackouts occur because the companies involved are simply not willing to lose money on sports, telling a customer "that game is blacked out because someone would have to pay $100,000 more for your region/zip code , and there simply aren't enough fans there to justify spending the money" would send someone through the roof.


I still think it should be do-able. The computer system is blacking out folks for a reason...need to put a friendly interface on that database/logic into an expert system that the CSRs can access.


But the #1 reason companies won't ever have a "blackout CSR"?

Blacked out sports customers are the most vile, toxic, repugnant angry retards on the face of the planet, for the few minutes when they realize they cannot see their game. I've talked to a few. They literally foam at the mouth and break objects.

No-one would ever stay in that position for long, even if it paid $100k.


I don't doubt that this is largely true, even though I always do my best to act civil to frontline CS folks, no matter how frustrated I am. I have a lot of respect for the crap they have to deal with, and know full well that I couldn't do their job and that the bulk of them are doing their best with the information they have been provided.

#38 OFFLINE   Sharkie_Fan

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 05:04 PM

I can forsee the "real" reason for this...

Cardinals are very popular team now. (go figure)
Cardinals want more money for their games. (per territory)
RSN not willing to pay.

and the final outcome of almost every blaxkout equation: fans get screwed.


Unless, of course, you believe the FSN MW spokesman who told the reporter in the link that started this whole thread... :)

THe claim is that they do in fact have broadcasting rights to those territories. However, they seem to be outlying territories, and D* does not offer FSN MW as part of the basic programming package, only if the subscriber pays $12 for the "sports pack". In those instances, FSN MW has chosen to black out the subscriber - EVEN IF THEY PAID FOR THE SPORTS PACKAGE.

They're trying to rile up D* customers so that they'll complain to D*.... Hoping that D* in turn will give FSN MW a spot in the basic package...

#39 OFFLINE   fornextloop

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 05:30 PM

Forgive me if this ground has been covered, but a very simple fix would be to have 'home territory' maps with zip codes on each providers, sports authority and content creators (original broadcaster) websites. With this information consumers might actually be able to make an informed buying decision, but I don't think that is what any of these groups actually want. I made this suggestion to D*, the NHL and the Nashville Predators when I lived in Nashville (they were constantly messing up the Predators games) but I have never seen even an attempt at this.
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#40 OFFLINE   dishrich

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 05:38 PM

However, they seem to be outlying territories, and D* does not offer FSN MW as part of the basic programming package, only if the subscriber pays $12 for the "sports pack". In those instances, FSN MW has chosen to black out the subscriber - EVEN IF THEY PAID FOR THE SPORTS PACKAGE.

They're trying to rile up D* customers so that they'll complain to D*.... Hoping that D* in turn will give FSN MW a spot in the basic package...


This is EXACTLY the situation, except there really isn't "outlying territories" for these teams - either a subscriber IS or is NOT in the local market for a given team. The areas where FSM is being blacked out are the overlapping areas where there is more than one "local" RSN, but where FSM gets 2nd class treatment, compared to CSC, for example in my area.

Sounds kind of like the stunts E* pulls whenever they get into a snit with the various programmers they have. Except this time, FSM is the one pulling the prog off from legit, paying customers, because they can't get D* or E* to acquiesce to putting FSM on the basic tier like CSC. So, if they black out "marque" prog like the Cards, D* & E* will cave into FSM demands, due to hoards of angry Cards fans complaining.

#41 OFFLINE   Sharkie_Fan

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 06:27 PM

Forgive me if this ground has been covered, but a very simple fix would be to have 'home territory' maps with zip codes on each providers, sports authority and content creators (original broadcaster) websites. With this information consumers might actually be able to make an informed buying decision, but I don't think that is what any of these groups actually want. I made this suggestion to D*, the NHL and the Nashville Predators when I lived in Nashville (they were constantly messing up the Predators games) but I have never seen even an attempt at this.


I think that would get pretty convoluted and confusing though.

Take for instance where we live.... FSN Bay Area is the RSN for Giants and A's games and covers not only the bay area, but a good portion of central/northern california, including Sacramento. Unless, of course, the Warriors are showing on FSN, in which case, they do NOT have the rights to broadcast within Sacramento because that is Kings home territory....

SO different sports have different rules, regions, etc, etc.... And out here, we're pretty spread out. I would think that things could get even more confusing someplace like the Eastern sea board, where you have several states packed into a small area, and alot more teams in a small area than you do out here...

Then there are situations like the Cardinals deal in this thread... There are apparently areas claimed by multiple teams and the provider decides what the "primary" team should be and transmits the RSN accordingly... From what I understand from reading some other threads, there are also areas in this region that are not claimed by ANY of the Major League teams. FSN MW won't broadcast cardinals games to those markets because they're "out of market". EI also does not broadcast to those areas because the game is carried on the RSN...

Blackout rules are kind of screwy to begin with... but with so many hands in the cookie jar, I don't really think there is an "easy" solution to get it squared away. Sure it would be great if every RSN, Sat/Cable provider, team, etc. had a black and white map displaying where things would show... The problem is that it's not black and white - there's a whole lot of gray, and whoever is interpreting that gray is going to do so in a way that's most favorable to them...

#42 OFFLINE   BJM

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 06:49 PM

An individual subscriber would probably end up being required to pay DEARLY!!! for this, since it would have to be added as an "exception" clause to every sports distribution contract written. In addition, the "rights" of the little local stations would have to be considered, and the games shown *over* their typical dominance, since it's easy to accidentally black out.

It may become feasible once teams see YES and other team-owned channels doing well.


Yeah, it wasn't the $$ I was concerned about, it was just the concept that if I wanted the right to watch every Devil Rays game, the whole blackout/territory process would have to become way more streamlined than it is now. Because of the "exclusive" windows, and the sheer number of games, it's convoluted in baseball.
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#43 OFFLINE   lewah33

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 09:38 PM

Understand where you're coming from...though I don't attribute any nefarious motives to the CSRs in general -- just incompetence when it comes to dealing with sports blackouts.

And in my experience the customer service grass is a lot less green with other providers...but YMMV.


ok, lemme clarify. I don't think the CSRs are evil. I think D* doesn't train them adequately, so they are not adequately prepared to answer customer questions. When things go badly, you then have to fight or pay to get out of a contract. Many just give up.

#44 OFFLINE   bwaldron

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 02:11 PM

ok, lemme clarify. I don't think the CSRs are evil. I think D* doesn't train them adequately, so they are not adequately prepared to answer customer questions. When things go badly, you then have to fight or pay to get out of a contract. Many just give up.


Gotcha...and agreed.

#45 OFFLINE   Ext 721

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 06:52 AM

I think there are 2 issues on the table. One is FSNMW's power play, trying to get their FSN on the basic tier. The other issue is D*'s deceptive or incompetent customer service staff.

Fact is, D* doesn't train the people who answer the phone well enough, so they cannot provide accurate service, and D* ends up with PR problems like these. Someone in El Segundo did a cost benefit analysis, and figured it would be cheaper to pay back customers who complain vehemently than to give accurate information.

Its a simple business decision. Its nefarious, and it is the reason I will leave Directv the minute they no longer have the NFL exclusive.


Actually, having worked in the CSR biz, I can tell you the cost-benefit comes in to play when you have outsourced call centers with CSRs who stick around a few months after training, then go away. More training before handling calls leads to "professional trainees" being attracted...people who hop from one call center to another, sticking around for the paid training, then not showing up for work the day they begin to take calls.

D* is combatting this by opening more in-house call centers, but even there, the same problems apply.

And you see the same article quotes a cheap price for a competitor...which is, after all is said and done, what draws the most customers...price.

And say what they might, few people would pay $20 extra a month for perfect customer service when they call in.

So few, D* would go out of business.

People scoff at titanium's hefty price, but theos customers pay for that operator who picks up on the first ring and is 100% trained and capable, the installer who fixes any problem the next day or sooner...those are the few people who are willing to pay for it.

Wal*mart is successful in large part because they provide poor (cheap) customer service compared to the small stores they put out of business.

people flock to wal*mart for it's low prices. they're not willing to pay for better service.

when americans decide to base a choice in pay-tv entirely on the customer service, and disregard price, they'll get it.
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#46 OFFLINE   Mike Bertelson

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 08:25 AM

According to the lastest post(12APR07) on the OP link to PJStar, the blackout has been lifted. Can anyone confirm this?

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#47 OFFLINE   bjlc

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 10:30 AM

I live in the General LaCrosse area. But with my zip code I cannot get both the Twins and Brewers games. Why? CABLE has them both on BOTH SIDES OF THE RIVER. all on FSN NORTH OR WISCONSIN depending upon what day of the week it is.
and I don't get the full compliement of FSN Wisconsin even though I pay the same amount of money for the channel as my fellow fans across the river ,who do get all the Viking and Minneapolis information..

WHY NOT? Why can I not get what cable in my area is offering? Who is lying to who here, and as we have seen D* doesn't give two flips about it.. BUT they want my money each and every month. Yet had I posted a New Albin, Iowa zip code of less then 20 miles as the crow flies. I could get all the Chicago teams, the St. Louis teams, The Twins and the Brewers as well. Just because of 20 miles. AND under various instances the same competiting cable company serves this same town.

Its a giant lie by Directv. and all they care about is, IS YOUR BILL PAID. and nothing else.

#48 OFFLINE   bonscott87

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 01:18 PM

I live in the General LaCrosse area. But with my zip code I cannot get both the Twins and Brewers games. Why? CABLE has them both on BOTH SIDES OF THE RIVER. all on FSN NORTH OR WISCONSIN depending upon what day of the week it is.
and I don't get the full compliement of FSN Wisconsin even though I pay the same amount of money for the channel as my fellow fans across the river ,who do get all the Viking and Minneapolis information..

WHY NOT? Why can I not get what cable in my area is offering? Who is lying to who here, and as we have seen D* doesn't give two flips about it.. BUT they want my money each and every month. Yet had I posted a New Albin, Iowa zip code of less then 20 miles as the crow flies. I could get all the Chicago teams, the St. Louis teams, The Twins and the Brewers as well. Just because of 20 miles. AND under various instances the same competiting cable company serves this same town.

Its a giant lie by Directv. and all they care about is, IS YOUR BILL PAID. and nothing else.


I think you must have posted another thread somewhere on the same thing.

Thanks your congressman for different rules that satellite must follow vs. cable.
But other then that, the sports leagues the the teams are the ones that tell DirecTV and Dish what zip codes and see what teams. Your beef is with the teams and the league.




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