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OLN Hockey Blackout

Yesterday night I sat down in front of the TV, looking forward to watching a hockey game. The Dallas Stars were playing the Phoenix Coyotes, and according to the TV schedule, it was slated to be broadcast on OLN (cable channel 69 in our area) at 7:30 PM central time. I was bewildered to find that rather than the NHL, OLN was showing some cheesy show about the “25 scariest animals” or the “10 worst jobs” or something like that. Where was my hockey?

A quick check of the OLN website confirmed that they were showing the NHL. They even have a cool graphic that says “NHL on OLN: We believe in hockey.” I double-checked the TV listings at Excite. Yep, it was supposed to be on. I checked nhl.com. Yep, they agreed that the game was supposed to be on OLN, and even gave an in-progress score. So what the heck was going on?

Next I did a Google search, and I found this article from Newsday. It ends up that OLN is in a wrestling match with several major cable companies, apparently including my local provider, Mediacom. They want OLN to be a first-tier channel, i.e. have it included in the “standard” cable package that the company offers, rather than have it as part of a second-tier, pay-extra package. And so they are using blackouts of NHL games to try to blackmail the cable companies into switching around their cable packages.

The end result of all this: a whole bunch of really mad fans. Check out the OLN forum, for one. The funny part (OK, it’s not so funny, maybe ironic?) is that the people that paid extra to get that second-tier so they could watch hockey are the exact ones that are getting screwed. No hockey for you! If I were Gary Bettman, I’d be getting pretty upset with OLN – why, after already almost killing your league with a cancelled season, would you want to further alienate your fan base by blacking out TV coverage and not explaining why?

I will be contacting all three parties to express my frustration. I doubt it’ll accomplish anything, though. I should check… does some other network have TV rights for the Stanley Cup playoffs? If not, I may miss another whole season. Arrrrgh.

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  1. I got a reply from Mediacom today. Less than helpful, but at least they replied.

    Chris,

    Thank you for your recent e-mail to Mediacom Customer Service. I do apologize for the inconvenience. Although Mediacom does have an agreement with OLN to carry their station, we do not yet have an agreement to broadcast their sports programming. We are working on negotiations with OLN to pick up their sports programming including, but not limited to NHL. You will be notified if/when this becomes available in your area. Again I do apologize for the inconvenience.

    If you need further assistance or have any additional questions please feel free to contact me via e-mail at xxxxxxxxx@mediacomcc.com, I will be happy to assist you, but please be sure to include your original e-mail for reference. Or you may also contact us through our Customer Service Department at 800-332-0245, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for your convenience.

    XXXXXXX X.

    Mediacom North Central Division

    E-Mail Associate

  2. Amber Amber

    Hello there 🙂
    Thank you for the comment, it was a very nice
    surprise. I also enjoyed the moment you had with
    Laura that you last posted about. That was so cute!
    Hope all is well (and i hope you get to watch
    your hockey again soon! How frustrating!)
    ttys, 🙂
    -Amber

  3. Jean Jean

    oh boy is my hubby ever mad over this NHL mess up! He just got digital cable a month ago specifically to get the hockey games. Oh please somebody get this straightened out and put the hockey on just for peace in this house!!

    Jean

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