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Root Sports Pittsburgh Now Blacks Out Penguins Pregame/Postgame Broadcasts

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.

Huh?

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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Comments

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I experienced the same thing on the intrasquad scrimmage. I was out of town on Sunday, so I watched that game on GameCenter. I must say, that the main reason I stay with Directv is for the regional pregame/post-game events and the HD feeds. Gamecenter is coming a lot closer with their quality, and their interface on the XBOX is really nice. If I can’t get the full set of penguins coverage via Directv, I have very little reason to stay with them, as I can save a lot by bundling my TV with other Verizon FIOS services. I hope DIRECTV gets it together!

Posted by penguinsfan on 01/23/13 at 11:32 AM ET

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We are having the same problem here in Wilkes-Barre, home of the Babypens. Didn’t notice Sunday’s game until it was too late as I had dvr’d it. We called DTV on Monday and they said Pens games would be blacked out and they had no control over it. We cancelled our sportspack and went with Center Ice, although we also enjoyed the pre/post game shows as well as other Pens shows and Pirates games. We probably would have cancelled Direct Tv totally as our local cable company now carries Root sports but we just signed on for another two years in order to get the “Genie” system. Had we known this beforehand we probably wouldn’t have done that as the only reason we went with DTV was to get Root Sports . I called Root Sports on Tuesday and left messages, someone actually called me back. He said they just redid areas but didn’t think ours should have been one blacked out because of the Babypens here. He is supposed to talk to superiors in programming and call me back. Still waiting. I am going to see what happens tonight as for some reason they have not taken Root sports off my lineup. I have dvr’d both Root Sports and Center Ice for tonights game as we have a Babypens home game. The young man from Root Sports told me it is up to the NHL which areas they broadcast Pens game in. All I want is a direct answer from someone. This is so aggravating!!!

Posted by Babypens99 on 01/23/13 at 12:34 PM ET

Fugazi's avatar

I have Direct TV and live out here on the left Coast. This is the first I’ve heard of this but I really haven’t paid much attention so far this year with the pre-post game coverage. I’ll check it out tonight and get back too you. Maybe its a regional thing…

Posted by Fugazi from Bay Area, Left Coast on 01/23/13 at 12:47 PM ET

Tony's avatar

@Fugazi, I doubt it’s regional.  Pretty sure it’s an “outside of Pittsburgh” thing.

But I’m going to talk to the Pens beat writers and main Penguins blogs to get the word out about this….

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 01/23/13 at 01:00 PM ET

Tony's avatar

From what I’ve been able to gather from Twitter and Facebook comments, here is a quasi-map of where it was also blacked out:

Long Island, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Erie, and West Coast.

Also would like to mention that this is also the case with those who view the games on Gamecenter….

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 01/23/13 at 02:28 PM ET

Tony's avatar

Well, six minutes in anyway, the pregame show IS on Root Sports on DirecTV….. We’ll see how long it lasts….

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 01/23/13 at 06:07 PM ET

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It’s on here too in Maryland.

Posted by penguinsfan on 01/23/13 at 06:15 PM ET

Fugazi's avatar

Its on here in the SF Bay Area on Direct TV

Posted by Fugazi from Bay Area, Left Coast on 01/23/13 at 06:16 PM ET

Tony's avatar

Well, maybe the rash of complaints online did the trick…. Keep your fingers crossed…..

Posted by Tony from Virginia Beach, VA on 01/23/13 at 10:23 PM ET

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I also had the game, pregame, and post game on last night here in Wilkes-Barre. Still waiting to hear back from that young man I spoke to from Root Sports. I’m wondering now if it is only blacked out when the game is on NHL channel or NBCsports channel. Last night’s game was only on Root Sports.

Posted by Babypens99 on 01/24/13 at 08:15 AM ET

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Here in Asheville North Carolina, I have sports pack with Directv that has Roots Sports.  Only reason I added the pack was so I could watch the Penguins, or so I thought.  I get the pre game show and then when it is game time, no game.  Directv says that I am out of the region.  Why offer a sports pack that doesn’t show any sports?  Why offer a regional channel but then not show regional shows?  Stupid!

Posted by asheville on 02/13/13 at 10:21 PM ET

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I got DirecTV this past summer just so I can watch the penguins games. I live in Canton, OH and for some reason the Penguins are our local hockey team. Now there is no way I can get the games because Center Ice blacks out the local team, being Pittsburgh for my area code. I’m beyond fed up with DirecTV. Even after explaining this, they still don’t care and just blow me off.

Posted by kelmo10 on 02/16/13 at 11:55 AM ET

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Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.

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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