I've been a baseball fan a long time. Baseball has often tested my fandom. I mean I was an Expo's fan. If you can live through want MLB did to the Expos and still call yourself a baseball fan, you are hardcore.
It is also tough to be a Jay's fan. You've got a game set up so the richest have an unfair advantage and our team sits in a division with the two richest teams. But really, no problem, it will be just that much sweeter when we do beat them.
MLB tests me in other subtle ways. "Sign up for MLB.TV, you can watch all the games on you computer, except, of course, for the Blue Jay games because you live in Canada." But I like baseball so I do. I watch a lot of baseball, my wife would tell you too much baseball.
So this year I was pretty happy that all Blue Jay games were to be on TV. At the season start most were to be on Sportsnet and some on TSN. Early in the season Sportsnet bought out the TSN games, so now all the Jay games would be on the Sportsnet channels. I didn't mind, even though I liked Rod Black doing play-by-play. I pay extra to get the extra Sportsnet channels so that I can see all the games, even the ones that Sportsnet West doesn't show. They often preferring to show us Yankee or Red Sox games.
I was a happy man.
Now, as you all know, 25 of the last 50 games or so will be moved to the new channel. Which I, living in the West can't get.
Could think come at a worse time? The Jays were building some momentum with fans. I found myself talking baseball with people I run into more and more. Just the other day, at a party, someone that I didn't know very well, asked me what I thought of the game the night before. This is not the normal way it happens, if I talk baseball with someone, normally I bring it up. We didn't get to talk long enough for me to find out if he my name from the site, but I thought it was a good sign that someone wanted to talk about baseball.
Of course ratings are way down on the new channel, which will likely start hurting the ratings on the games on the regular channels. Watching baseball can become a habit, if folks break the habit, it might be harder to get them back. In a Leader-Post story:
That number was 94 per cent lower than the more than 480,000 Canadians who tuned into the Jays-Angels games on existing Sportsnet regional stations on Aug. 13 and Aug. 15.
Now Sportsnet wants us to blame our cable providers and phone them asking for the service. But they sprang this channel on the cable providers at the last minute. From a Toronto Star story:
"We can only offer a free preview if we sign a contract to carry Sportsnet One and we don't have that," said Bell spokesperson Julie Smithers. "We're evaluating it, but we only got details on Sportsnet One a couple of days before it launched."
There is also a problem with how Rogers wants the channel launched. They apparently want the channel going to everyone's home but it will cost $3 a customer, a month. Even those that don't want another Sportsnet channel. I mean, I get the other channels already. Most of what I could watch is poker. What percentage of RSN air time is devoted to poker? Would everyone want another sports channel?
I know they want me and you and everyone to complain to our cable companies. As much as I'm not a big fan of the cable company, I can't get on them for this. I did write to RSN to complain. I got a note back saying the cable company is at fault. I wrote to Paul Beeston and got no reply. I thought we were close. Publicly he is toeing the company line that this channel will allow them to show more games. I'd like to hope that, in private, he is less happy.
Rogers wants to play it as a fight with the cable companies, you would think instead they would want to work with the cable companies. They have a symbiotic relationship. Or one would hope. Why wouldn't they want to work together?
Tonight, when the Blue Jay are on Sportsnet One, what do I get to watch on Sportsnet West? EPL Preview Show. I can't imagine that will be a high rated show. Then Sportsnet Connected. Then the Yankees and White Sox, cause you know, we can't see enough of the Yankees out here. Sportsnet Ontario and East get to see the Red Sox and Rays. And the 75 people that get One could see the Jays.
I know, in the long run, I'll end up with a new channel, Rogers will end up with more of my money and it will be more or less forgotten, but Rogers, the owners of the Jays, have handled this very badly. You have to wonder how many times baseball can tell us that we really don't want to watch the game, before we agree.