Blackhawks Confidential

Blame DirecTV, Bettman for Hawks game blackout

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I turned on the ignition and flipped on the radio last night right after the Calgary Flames scored their first goal.

Thirty seconds later, before I was out of my work parking lot, the Blackhawks were down 3-0.

I turned into my driveway and the Hawks trailed 5-0.  John Wiedemann and Troy Murray were nearly speechless.  Murray commented on how he has never seen such a terrible Hawks' performance in his career as their broadcaster.

Well, I thought, at least I don't have the option of viewing the carnage thanks to my DirecTV subscription.  No Blackhawks game for me tonight.  What am I really missing anyway?

Yeah, I was wrong.  Very wrong, indeed.

After following the game updates on the internet, my feigned indifference slowly began to change into outright rage.  How is it that I'm going to miss the greatest comeback in Chicago Blackhawks history?

Thanks DirecTV.  Best sports programming provider, I think not.  Thanks Gary Bettman.  Weak-ass NHL commissioner, I think so.

Not only did I not have the option to watch the game, neither did 18 million other DirecTV subscribers.  Way to sell the game Bettman.  You're a frickin' genius.  The pressure you have applied to both Comcast and DirecTV to negotiate a compromise has produced what so far?  Nothing.  Once again selling the NHL is nothing more than an afterthought on the American sports landscape.

Why has Bettman not at least pulled the exclusive rights from Versus?  Surely, he didn't enter into agreement that gave him no outs if the NHL audience shrunk by 18 million.  Bettman should pull the exclusive rights deal and allow the clubs local broadcasters to televise the games as well.  Doing so would also free up the NHL network to air classic contests such as last night's Hawks-Flames game.

Do I expect such a move from Bettman?  Don't hold your breath.  The commissioner is proving once again that he holds no clout.

Yes, I could have listened to the entire game on the radio.  But this isn't 2007 anymore.  I thought Bill Wirtz was dead.  For DirecTv subscribers, "Dollar" Bill lived on last night.

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9 Comments

SouthSideHawkMan said:

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So Direct TV views get screwed, but Dish Network viewers get VS added on their package. It's the same company eco star communications...interesting

Mike Kiley said:

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If this involved pro football the Senate and the House would be investigating. But it's hockey and a hell of a lot of people could care less. It's one fight the NHL has never won and likely never will. Pro hockey is a boutique sport to the higher ups in TV land.

FearlessFreep said:

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I'm disappointed I didn't get to see the game, but I support DirecTV on this one. If Versus is so important to Bettman, than I'd suggest that he get on Comcast's case to ensure that Versus gets on DirecTV immediately. What's his argument to DirecTV? "Hockey is important, you're keeping fans from watching it, you must buy the product even at an inflated cost!" BS. Sounds to me like Bettman wants to have his cake (putting the games on VS to "increase" viewership) and eat it (squeeze as much revenue out). In the meantime, I'm still glad I'm not handing my money directly over to Comcast's cable ops. Their customer service sucks as does their programming.

Mark Kiley said:

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Being a loyal DirecTV customer for over five years, I tend to agree with you Freep. However, DirecTV can no longer sell itself as the option for the best sports programming without the NHL on Versus.

The dispute will eventually be resolved. The only question is the timing. How long will it take? Who knows. The hope was that Bettman could apply some pressure to Comcast. So far, it doesn't appear to have worked.

Jerry Kayne said:

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I'm a frustrated DirecTV subscriber too. Not only did I miss the Hawks greatest comeback in history on TV but can't watch the other games without paying the premium for CenterIce. Although that's free for October.

So it was old time hockey radio for me again. Not so bad, Troy and John are great.

DirecTV blames Comcast/Versus for unfairly raising their prices and no one else's.

Versus blames DirecTV for wanting to move Versus to a higher tier so they can charge their subscribers more according to a Versus rep on WSCR yesterday.

Gary Bettman is involved (according to his XM Radio show every Thursday) and says get it done quickly on their own since the beef isn't with the NHL and Versus, it's DirecTV and Versus. By the way, the exclusive NHL/Versus contract runs 2 more years and then they can revisit it then. Now the NHL has some good negotiating ammo.

My 2ยข: The quick fix is for Comast/Versus to televise the Hawks on the local CSN channel. Then my problem is fixed and that's all I care about! Let the corporate muckity mucks fight out the rest of the problem.

By the way, I love the Bettman Show on XM although I'm not an XM subscriber. I download the free podcast from iTunes and listen on my free time. I highly recommend it. You get to know the commissioner and take a whole new perspective on him and his involvement in NHL business. I'd rather read my fellow blog commenter's harsh Bettman bashings after they hear his words from his mouth and not from speculation.

FearlessFreep said:

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Mark, you sure weren't show a whole lot of love from Wysh on Puck Daddy today.

Mark Kiley said:

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Thanks for the heads up. At least I gave him something to talk about. Wysh doesn't appear to have many original thoughts. He likes to go around picking apart other people's opinions.

Either way, I'm happy for the link and the exposure.

ChicagoFan1 said:

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I've had it with DirecTV..I found a great deal for Dish...check it out... http://www.vmcsatellite.com/red_design/home.cfm?aid=302554

Mike Kiley said:

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Hey, if you're getting a commission, I'm getting a commission.

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