I decided to take my anger yesterday at the Thrashers dumping Manny (reasoning be damned, I say!) out on DirecTV, again, regarding the fact that I'm missing the Blues/Wings game that Versus is televising. Here's what I wrote:
I'm just writing to express my dismay that this problem hasn't been
rectified yet. The beginning of the hockey season is October 1st, and
despite the fact that I have Center Ice, I'm still going to miss the
Detroit/St. Louis game that is live from Stockholm. Seeing as how I'm not
in the St. Louis metro area, the fact that I have to miss five of my teams'
games due to blackout thanks to Vs' inane broadcast rights is a bit
annoying. The fact that I'm missing one of the biggest events in my teams'
recent history is extremely disappointing.
I absolutely do not want to drop DirecTV and switch to Dish just for one
network - that's stupid. But I am disappointed that I'm spending $140 for
Center Ice and am still missing a huge number of regular season games. If
Versus didn't air the NHL, I couldn't care less if you guys carried them or
not. As it stands, so many hockey fans are going to miss so many games, a
lot of whom can't afford Center Ice like I can. It's insane to think that
I'll have to squint at my computer at an on-line feed of a game when I
should be able to watch it on my TV in high def and with stereo surround
sound. My MacBook's got good speakers, but they're not THAT good.
Please keep working to rectify this problem. I know hockey fans are a small
minority of your subscribers, but we're fiercely loyal to the sport and our
teams; more so than fans of other sports. I know of a lot of people who
have switched to Dish just for this one network.
Ok, so you would expect something somewhat well thought out in return. No. I got the exact same form letter that I got when I complained about it a few months ago.
Thanks for writing. I see that you have been a loyal DIRECTV customer for many years, I just want to let you know that we appreciate your business.
I understand your concern about Versus. Unfortunately, Versus is no longer available on DIRECTV. Comcast, the largest cable company in the U.S. and our largest competitor, owns the channel and has forced us to pull it down. Here is the situation.
DIRECTV was already paying Comcast more than any other non-Comcast distributor to air Versus - and now Comcast is demanding an overall rate hike of 20% on top of that. Comcast also forces DIRECTV to make Versus available to a much larger portion of our customer base at our own expense than they require from other TV providers - most notably, DISH Network. We simply cannot accept these unfair and outrageous terms. All we're asking from Comcast is equal treatment.
Comcast and Versus are currently engaged in a noisy publicity campaign to distract attention from the fact that they are trying to take advantage of DIRECTV and our customers. The bottom line is this, if we were to accept their unreasonable demands, we would have no choice but to pass on the increase in cost to our valued customers. We do not want this to happen, especially in these difficult economic times. That's why we're standing firm in our negotiations with Comcast.
Regardless, we will continue to work in good faith with Comcast to try to reach a fair and just settlement. Our commitment to deliver the best TV service for the best price is and has always been our first priority. We truly appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.
DIRECTV still leads the industry in sports programming, whether or not we have Versus in our channel lineup. For college football, NHL hockey and other sports, here's just a brief list of what's available on DIRECTV:
College football: Available on Big Ten Network, CBS College Sports, ESPN, ESPNU, ESPN GamePlan, The Mtn., local channels and your RSN.
NHL: Available on NHL Network, NHL Center Ice, and your RSN.
Mixed Martial Arts: Available on HDNet, Spike TV, and UFC on DIRECTV Pay Per View.
Auto Racing: Available on IRL on ABC, Formula 1 on Fox and Speed.
Bull riding: Available on ESPN2 and the Houston Rodeo on DIRECTV Pay Per View
Hunting and fishing: Available on ESPN2, The Sportsman Channel, The Outdoor Channel, and Pursuit TV.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you didn't notice, I never mentioned college football, MMA, Auto Racing, BULL RIDING, and hunting and fishing in my e-mail. I don't watch Versus for anything but hockey, and these dillweeds are missing the point... Versus has exclusive broadcast rights to a lot of these games. We can't see them on NHL Network or Center Ice. WE CAN'T SEE THEM. That's kind of the point.
If you're a reader of my blog and a DirecTV subscriber and would like to participate in an experiment, please, feel free to e-mail DirecTV and see what kind of response you get.