Note: This will be a brief departure from my normal “NFL History” articles.
For those of you who subscribe to DirecTV and follow a team in a mid to small market NFL city, prepare to spend some time on Sundays with your better half / significant other. You see, Raycom Media probably owns the CBS affiliate in your area and they are in the middle of a major urination contest over “retransmission fees” with DirecTV. In a nutshell, this is how it works;
The NFL sells the broadcasting rights to CBS (FOX, NBC and ESPN). CBS then charges their affiliates to broadcast CBS programing. The network affiliates then charge “re-transmitters” (DirecTV, Time Warner, Dish Network, etc.) for the right to rebroadcast the affiliates programing to include NFL games. Well, for the past three months, Raycom and DirecTV have been haggling over the amount of the retransmission fee. From reports that I have read, Raycom has more than doubled the amount of this fee and DirecTV has balked. So, effective on September 1st (a mere four days prior to the start of the 2014 NFL season), DirecTV ceased transmitting programing from Raycom owned CBS affiliates. In my particular area, this happens to be a Cleveland affiliate, WOIO (a Raycom owned affiliate station). So here we are, fast approaching week 1 of the 2014 NFL season – Browns versus Steelers – and my TV screen will be blank.
So I call DirecTV Customer Service to see what my options are. After an extremely frustrating automated answering system (Press 1 for . . .) and almost an hour wait on hold (I’m assuming I’m not the only NFL fan with the same questions) I finally get to speak to a human being (except for the fact the fact that she can barely speak English). I explain to her that I pay DirecTV every month for a service that they are suppose to provide. And that service includes CBS programing. To her credit, she apologizes profusely and politely for this interruption in service (no doubt according to the script she has in front of her) but can offer no insight as to when this stalemate with Raycom will end. I ask again what my options are and she says, “you are more than welcome to purchase an external antenna and watch the game via the free “Over the Air” broadcast.
Mind you, I am fully aware that DirecTV offers “NFL Sunday Ticket” free of charge for the first year to new subscribers. Apparently DirecTV feels that subscribers that have been with DirecTV for years shouldn’t be afforded the same courtesy and she proceeds to quote me the going rate to add Sunday Ticket to my account. So I then ask her why should I pay an additional charge to DirecTV for Sunday Ticket because DirecTV can’t (or won’t) provide 100% of the service for which I’m already paying?
As of this writing, it appears my options are;
- Buy a set of Rabbit Ears and hook them up to my 60″ High Definition Flatscreen.
- Further subsidize DirecTV by purchasing NFL Sunday Ticket.
At this point I simply do not know at whom to be mad. I’m a capitalist at heart. I’ve worked my entire life with the basic understanding and appreciation of reasonable profit. Raycom’s stance to more than double the re-transmission fee far exceeds any expectation of reasonable profit. DirecTV’s position (while admirable) totally ignores another basic fundamental of Customer Service. Both of these organizations should be ashamed of themselves. As a result, I will probably dump DirecTV and go with our local cable provider.
And, for those of you who are DirecTV subscribers and follow a mid-market NFC team . . . Raycom also owns a number of FOX affiliates as well. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.