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Blues Fans Latest Held Hostage In NHL Rights Fee Wars

Thursday night's Blues game in Phoenix was an entertaining contest even though the Coyotes won in overtime. If you live in St. Louis and subscribe to Dish Network or you live in another part of the region and subscribe to MediaCom cable, you couldn't see the game through conventional means. Everyone who has DirecTV who couldn't see the season opener know how you feel: like the rope in a tug of war between cable channels with hockey broadcasting rights and the providers asked to pay more at contract time. It sucks, and it's a familiar feeling.

According to Dan Caesar at STLtoday, when Fox Sports Midwest upped its coverage to 74 Blues games this season they asked cable and satellite carriers to help pay for the cost of the increase. Many of the carriers struck deals with the regional network that has tentacles across Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and who knows where else.

I can understand the increased cost in rights fees and production costs. And if the advertising isn't there to support the increase, then the only revenue stream is the fee charged to carriers. In the end, it's the fan who either pays for the increase or pays by not seeing the games. It's a familiar situation for hockey fans.

Think about when you talk with a non-hockey fan and you're trying to convince the person how great the sport is, how it's fast and exhilarating and simply awesome to follow. And the non-hockey fan friend says, "Eh. I'll just watch more college football." Fox Sports Midwest is putting the hard sell on Dish Network and pushing all the great things about the team's potential and probable ratings performance. And Dish Network says, "Eh. We'll settle with hours of Best Damn Sports Show Period list show reruns."

I'm sick and tired of being the rope in a tug of war between companies with competing interests when the bottom line is going to be either me missing games I want to see or an increase in my TV bill (Remember back in the 1970s and part of the 1980s when television was free? At least radio is still free. Unless you want commercial-less channels. Sigh.) St. Louis Cardinals fans don't have to go through this. St. Louis Rams fans don't have to go through this (for road games). But hockey fans, and this time Blues fans specifically, are the knot between a regional sports network that shows a lot of shows people don't watch and media companies many people hate paying each month because they don't feel valued as customers.

Somehow this season Charter Communications, the predominant cable monopoly in the area that has been through bankruptcy and customer service problems in recent years, comes out looking great to hockey fans because they have Vs., they had the Blues game Thursday night, they carry NHL Network (on the Sports Tier) and Center Ice (NOT IN HD!!!!). Shocking.

Hey Fox Sports Midwest, Dish Network and MediaCom. Fucking fix it.