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April 22, 2004

Cable companies show their true colors

Unless you are living under a rock it would have been hard to miss the articles this morning concerning Pawlenty's offer of state mediation between Victory Sports and the cable companies. While I think it is obvious that the Twins started negotiations off poorly by asking way too much for each subscriber, I have always believed that the cable companies have been the problematic entity in this negotiation process. Now I think we have some proof. According to the Star Trib article on this matter:

Comcast and Time Warner -- which combine to serve much of the metro area -- put a different spin on the situation. Each company issued a statement that urged the Twins to go back to Fox Sports Net, which had been the team's previous cable home.

Time Warner's statement said any mediation should involve the Twins and FSN, stating, "This is where the dispute exists."

Comcast's statement read: "It is incredible the Twins have refused to consider the one solution that could put their games back on the air fastest: the reported [$12 million] offer from Fox Sports Net to carry Twins games. . . . If there is any play for government-sponsored mediation in this situation, it would be to facilitate an immediate deal between the Twins and Fox Sports Net."

The Pioneer Press writes:

A statement from Time Warner Cable, which serves Minneapolis and the southwest suburbs, was similar.

"The true parties to this dispute are Fox Sports Net North and the Twins, and any mediation effort should involve them,'' said a Time Warner statement. " Any agreement between the Twins and Fox Sports Net North would mean these games would immediately be available to our customers at no retail price increase.''

It is obvious that the cable companies are in bed with Fox Sports Net. It appears they have never intended to actually negotiate in good faith. The only viable solution they see is for the Twins to go crawling back to FSN. I could understand this if the Twins hadn't actually already launched their own network. I could maybe see them going back to FSN if 30+ Minnesota cable companies hadn't already signed on to Victory. I could understand the position of the cable companies if Victory Sports wasn't already available in 90,000+ homes. FSN is no longer an option! For them to claim that the dispute is between the Twins and FSN is so upsetting to me and it clearly shows their true colors in this whole debacle. The Twins have desperately been trying to negotiate while the cable companies have just sat back and watched as Twins fans get angrier and angrier. And not angrier with the cable companies, oh no, Twins fans are angry with the Twins! The cable companies are playing us like a fiddle! Do you liked getting duped? Like it or not, we are getting duped big time.

Posted by snackeru at April 22, 2004 12:58 PM | Sports business


Again I ask you, why should the cable companies carry Victory Sports when the channel has a very limited lineup? The channel offers nothing really substantial other than Twins games (105/yr)and the Gophers games of basketball (26 max) and football (12 max). That is why the companies won't carry them. Victory is not a complete channel. I don't even know if they can put together 12 hours of programming moreso 24 hours without resorting to public access TV-type shows. Why would anyone want to pay for that?

I see the point of the cable companies, Victory s for the Twins to make $, FSN offered the Twins the same amount of $ to stay with them. The Twins should have taken another year to get their station better positioned, program-wise, prior to releasing it.

If any other sports team in their respective market was trying this, I honestly believe that you would criticize them for not putting a good product out to sell themselves on.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at April 22, 2004 4:17 PM

Just because you don't enjoy the programming or you aren't interested in it doesn't mean it isn't there. To say that Victory Sports doesn't have as complete a lineup as FSN is a complete fallacy. Victory will of course air the Twins. That is huge. They will also air both MSU hockey and football, and St. Cloud St. hockey. Again, that is a big deal. In addition, Victory will air Gopher football (3 games) and basketball (all games), plus other Big Ten matchups. Do you know what FSN gives us right now? Pac 10 basketball. Holy crap! Who cares about that? Lastly Victory will air high school sports. If you don't think high school hockey isn't a big deal in Minnesota then you haven't lived here long enough. Do you honestly thing FSN's lineup compares to this? They have Wild hockey and T-Wolves basketball, and then they shove "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" down our throats. That is it. Victory will also show Minnesota based sports discussion shows, and Kent Hrbek even has an entertaining fishing show. The rest of the time will be spent showing ESPN News which you would regularly get only if you bought digital cable. I would give up FSN in a heartbeat to get Victory Sports. I would even give up ESPN! So, I respectfully cannot agree with you that Victory is a poor product. It is by far the best Minnesota based sports channel out there.

Posted by: Shane at April 22, 2004 4:31 PM

I heard second hand through a friend in the media industry that Fox Sports made an offer to the Twins that would have given the Twins the 7th richest TV deal in baseball (I assume this was more than the widely reported $12). That would be pretty good considering we are the 13th or 14th largest TV market. Is the information out there regarding each teams' TV deals? I find it kind of hard to believe that a mid teens TV deal would put the Twins up that high. Maybe the Twinsgeek could dig this up.
Regardless, I am with you and agree that Victory would offer far more programming that I would be interested in. All you have to do is recall the glory years of MSC (pre-Fox Sports). There was a bunch of locally produced and locally played shows and games.
-Jim in St. Paul

Posted by: Jim in St. Paul at April 22, 2004 5:13 PM

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