Yankees, Comcast Engage In Public Pissing Match Because They're Incapable Of Adult Negotiations

from the Titanic-deck-chair-rearranging dept

For many years now we've seen a dramatic spike in programming contract disputes between broadcasters and cable operators, usually resulting in consumers losing access to TV content they're paying for. These feuds usually begin simply enough; with a broadcaster asking for a programming rate hike cable operators don't want to pay for. But instead of sitting down and hashing out a new deal that satisfies both parties like grown ups often do, the companies take their feud into the public sphere, punishing paying customers in the process.

This involves blacking out content users are paying for (without giving any refunds), annoying customers with ads and on-screen tickers blaming the other guy for being a greedy villain, sometimes cutting off user access to online content, and making an endless series of snippy comments in the media. After months of annoying customers, the two sides will usually strike a confidential deal, and the rate hike will get passed on to consumers whose cable bills are already skyrocketing at four times the rate of inflation. It is, to be kind, an unsustainable death spiral of dysfunction given the looming threat of Internet video.

The latest fight of this kind is between Comcast and the Fox and Yankees-owned YES Network. Comcast pulled the network from its lineup last November after YES asked for a 33% rate bump. Comcast has spent the last few months publicly complaining that nobody watched the network. YES Network has spent the last few months calling Comcast gutless, and with the new baseball season approaching has launched a new ad campaign using Yankees players like Alex Rodriguez and a new website that urges customers to switch to another cable operator while mocking Comcast:
"The most recent American Consumer Satisfaction Index ranks Comcast among the lowest of the more than 300 companies it tracks, calling out Comcast Xfinity for suffering one of the largest drops in customer satisfaction in the pay-TV industry. In a 2015 poll conducted jointly by 24/7 Wall St. and Zogby Analytics, Comcast finished dead last for the second straight year in terms of quality of customer service among 151 of America’s best-known companies across fifteen industries...Now Comcast is depriving fans of watching Yankees games on YES, even as it continues to force price hikes on its customers and charge more money for less service."
The problem is that with the amount of money broadcasters are demanding, and the apathetic, dysfunctional nature of cable companies (Comcast is a broadcaster itself no stranger to rate hikes), these are feuds many people wish both sides could somehow lose. Again, customers are paying for content they're not getting, being refused refunds, being harassed with on and off screen marketing, and -- once Comcast and YES strike a secret deal just before the first pitch is thrown -- customers will be pounded with a shiny new rate hike anyway. Regulators have thus far responded by implying these fights are just boys being boys.

It would be in the cable and broadcast industry's best self interest to get these deals done without pissing off any more customers, but the industry's incapable of seeing the bigger picture. Such as the fact these fights only accelerate piracy streams, cord cutting, and the downward-sliding satisfaction ratings of the least liked industry in America.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 3:48pm

    Alex Rodriguez is pretty good at getting people to cough up more money, maybe YES network is on to something here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ThatDevilTech (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 3:55pm

    Just exactly what "other" provider do they expect the customers to go to? Many of them are locked by NO competition. Unless I'm missing something?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PlagueSD (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 4:17pm

      Re:

      Well, there is AT&T Uverse and DISH Network...Provided the HOA allows Satellite dishes to be attached to your house. But yeah, lack of proper competition is driving prices through the roof.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ThatDevilTech (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 4:28pm

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, I wasn't thinking about the satellite providers, but who says the fight won't go to them this year, in time for the playoffs, or next year in time for opening day? Or the following. It would go that way before it's over, I'm sure.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2016 @ 12:20pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          ...I wasn't thinking about the satellite providers, but who says the fight won't go to them...

          Damn near every 6-8 months DirectTV has disputes with channel providers and sometimes results in those channels no longer provided. Do the customers get a refund (or lower rates)? NOPE!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zonker, 29 Mar 2016 @ 4:17pm

    Sounds like the Yankees should just change the name of their network to "NO".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 4:17pm

    I see this as a solution, not a problem. The solution being that even more folk cut the cord. This is one of the reasons why cable PPV providers are seeing people dropping their service if you can call it a service.

    Every time they get in one of these pissing matches, the solution is always to jack the price on the customers' end. They've already reached beyond what the service is worth in price. The more it goes up, the more, cut the cord.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 5:16pm

      Re:

      Maybe not a solution, but an opportunity to see professional sports as the soul sucking whores that they really are. That includes everyone involved, the fans that buy (pay through the nose) into their childish tantrums, the owners, the managers, the coaches, the trainers, the players, etc..

      In many cases this self serving, cash grabbing attitude extends into amateur sports, including, but not limited to, college football and basketball, World Cup soccer, the Olympics and many others. Oh, and don't forget the media that specialize in making those tantrums and their perpetrators a big deal when their real claim to fame is competing with the Kardashians' for headline space.

      Now if sport were done for the sake of sport I could get behind it. I used to, but no longer. All of those I mentioned above could fall off the face of the earth and not be replaced and the world would be a better place for it.

      OK, rant over. Let the children (how about licensing corporations for adulthood? Maybe we could pull the licenses for those whom act childishly?) act out and stamp their feet. With any luck at all they will all hold their collective breaths until they turn blue and die. Best thing for them, and especially us.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 30 Mar 2016 @ 11:02am

      Re:

      these are feuds many people wish both sides could somehow lose.

      As mentioned, they can both lose. Continue with this crap and they won't have customers to pass rate increases to. Of course then the cable companies will have to figure out how to recoup all the cable losses from their broadband customers. Really looking forward to that... another parade of disasters that would be averted by strong competition.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    dave blevins (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 4:21pm

    Cable/content payment biz model is backwards

    I've always wondering why the cable transport company (Cable) pays the content "generator" (CG) and not the other way around since the CG gets an audience they wouldn't otherwise have, and they (CG) gets the increased ad revenue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 5:03pm

    Disemboweler IV...

    ...the game where condemned criminals dig at each other with rusty hooks.

    I'd buy the Yankees vs. Comcast version.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2016 @ 6:23pm

    I cut the cord a few years ago and could care less. I like my pro sports but I'll follow them in other ways -- radio and/or that thing called newspapers. It's not 100% the same as parking myself on the couch for X hours regularly to watch games, but it's a better use of my time, that's for sure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    art guerrilla (profile), 29 Mar 2016 @ 6:26pm

    semi-relatedly...

    as told in the article, the nearly monthly merry-go-round of what channels they have anointed, and which have been relegated to purgatory, is annoying to say the least...

    had a similar situation which i don't know is related, but -again- a constant source of 'anxiety' when using services where competitors can screw up the content, will-I, nill-I:
    that is SWMBO and i had become accustomed to watching john oliver, graham norton, and some colbert on the youtube replay thingies...
    TERRIFIC ! it is on OUR schedule, at OUR convenience, good stuff, thank you...
    (guess what ? ALSO means we will watch a LOT more than the ZERO we would if we had to buy HBO, BBC, or stay up until midnight, or whatever...)
    but, about 3-4 weeks ago, john oliver clips disappeared, and had some weird apology notice... not sure when, but within a couple weeks, they were back (just randomly noticed)...
    THOSE KINDS of counter-productive machinations which have NOTHING to do with the customers, but are solely power-play, money-games by assholes in charge, are what makes the WHOLE SYSTEM STINK, and means we can't "DEPEND" on them...
    fine, fuck you: go show all your john oliver clips/whatever to yourself in the closet; see how much money that will earn you greedtards...
    dog damn, they make it EASY to despise the ENTIRE INDUSTRY...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Mar 2016 @ 2:24am

    remind me when EA sued Zynga. Everyone wished both companies would lose out from that lawsuit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    phils, 30 Mar 2016 @ 1:57pm

    Comcast vs. Yankees -- Two big losers! Awesome! As wonderful as the Iran/Iraq war.

    Go Red Sox!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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