by Tony on 01/23/13 at 11:16 AM ET
It began this past Wednesday night, when the Penguins held an intrasquad scrimmage at Consol Energy Center. Tickets were free, as was parking. Concessions and Penguins merchandise were either free or had significant discounts. With approximately 2,000 fans still waiting to get in the building when the seats filled, the Penguins opened up the luxury seats to accommodate them.
But when it came time to broadcast the game on Root Sports Pittsburgh, at least on my DirecTV feed here in Virginia, the channel showed that the game was being blacked out.
Whether it was due to technical issues, policy issues or someone simply dropping the ball, the game did indeed come on midway through the second period.
Oh, by the way, the Penguins averaged a 6.7 rating for that game. For an intrasquad scrimmage.
But the frustration continued as the regular season commenced.
The Penguins' season opener on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia was broadcast by NBC, so there was no Root Sports Pittsburgh programming that day.
But when Sunday night came around, as the Penguins prepared to meet the New York Rangers, as I prepared to watch the pregame show on Root, the same "blacked out" alert came up.
Just as a reference, I've had DirecTV for approximately 13 years. As a diehard Pittsburgh sports fan, a satellite dish is nearly a necessity. Yes, you can get NHL Center Ice and MLB Extra Innings on other non-satellite subscriptions, but you can only get NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV.
In addition, I also subscribe to DirecTV's "Sports Pack", which provides access to numerous regional sports channels, such as Root, FSN regional networks, and several others. Root Sports Pittsburgh regularly shows pregame/postgame shows for both the Penguins and Pirates, not to mention several other Pittsburgh sports specials.
Another important note: DirecTV owns Root Sports Pittsburgh. They also own Root Sports Northwest and Root Sports Rocky Mountain/Root Sports Utah.
So I've forked a lot of money over the years to get my Pittsburgh sports. And I'm sure I'm no different than thousands of other fans, regardless of their particular teams.
When the blackout alert came up on the pregame show, I called DirecTV. After being passed around by several agents, I talked to a supervisor, who advised me that the contract between Root Sports and their providers had changed recently. And as a result, the pregame and postgame broadcasts would no longer be shown outside of the Pittsburgh viewing area.
NOTE: I do not know what exact area makes up the "Pittsburgh viewing area". In addition, I do not know what other cable and/or satellite systems are affected by this policy besides DirecTV.
However, to be fair, I must also state that after the Penguins' win over the Rangers on Sunday night, the Penguins' postgame show was indeed on Root Sports Pittsburgh. I have no idea whether this was shown because of the outrage given to Root Sports via Facebook/Twitter, or whether someone simply forgot to turn it off because of the new policy.
So I suppose we will just see what happens tonight, as Root Sports Pittsburgh broadcasts tonight's Penguins home opener against Toronto, as well as pregame/postgame shows.
But this is a bizarre decision.
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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