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Blinded by Science: DirecTV Goes Black on MLB Season Opener

25th March 2008

Maury Brown

Before we get started, yes, I’m a DirecTV subscriber, and yes, I’ve been very happy with my service. Also, I have a nice clean view of the southern sky, which helps with the quality, and even during the worst rain storm the Pacific Northwest can muster, I’ve never had the signal go out on me.

So, it’s a good thing I’m writing this story today after deciding not to stay up or get up early to watch this year’s season opener between the Red Sox and Athletics from Japan. While Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts from coast-to-coast were serving up fanatical baseball fans that decided that getting up at 6am ET or 3am PT to watch the game, I decided that some shut-eye was more in order.

If that makes me sound like an undedicated baseball fan, so be it. But, if I had had to deal with what other DirecTV subscribers went through this morning, well… I’d be in anger management classes this afternoon.

As I reported on The Biz of Baseball, fans tuning into the game on ESPN2 or on NESN were greeted to an outage of those two channels in most areas. A message on ESPN2 simply read, “No need to call us. We are aware this TV station is temporarily unavailable. We’ll have this channel back as soon as possible. Sorry for the interruption”.

Why the outage occurred hasn’t been made clear by DirecTV at this time. My sports business colleague Tim Lemke of the Washington Times has said that he hasn’t heard back from the satcaster yet, and neither have I.

There will be, undoubtedly, more cries of, “No more Opening Day overseas. Bring it back to America.” I can understand that, to a point. Purists will certainly be in that camp. But, MLB wants to continue to grow the game internationally, and any other regular season date other than Opening Day seems nearly out of the question. Such is the price you pay when you want to get fan outside the U.S. into Major League Baseball. Just don’t call me less of a sports reporter if I don’t choose next year to get up in the middle of the night to watch your Opening Day broadcast, Bud, Bob, Don, and Gene. I don’t need to break out the old TV Brick any time soon when my DirecTV feed is blank.

UPDATE: The following has been issued by DirecTV:

“We experienced some temporary technical difficulties early this morning that resulted in some channels not being available to customers. The majority of our channels were not affected and we have since corrected the problem. In the case of the Red Sox season opener, we were able to bring the NESN channel back up at the top of the seventh inning. ESPN2 came back on later, after the game was over. (Customers who have NESN or ESPN2 in HD were able to see the entire game.) We deeply apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused our customers – and particularly Red Sox Fans. ESPN2 is planning to carry a repeat of the game at 2 p.m.”

If you had problems with your DirecTV feed for ESPN2 or NESN, or have heard back from DirecTV on the outage, post your comments. I’d like to hear for a possible future column.


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Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown’s full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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