24 April 2010

Dbacks Win On Channel 600 Something

Any day Met retread Kris Benson tames the Phils qualifies as a (Sedona) red letter day. The Diamondbacks also knocked five homers, four off starter Cole Hamels, to win rather handily 7-4. AJ Hinch was ejected for disputing what amounted to an inside the park homerun. So, there was plenty to see. It was the kind of game -a convincing win over a strong team and a quality pitcher - that instills hope in locals, shaken by a steady stream of bullpen failures.

Unfortunately, almost no one saw it. I'm not talking about attendance (for once!), which was a dismal 25 and change on a Friday night. I'm talking about the ballgame being pre-empted by the Coyotes/RedWings tilt on FSN cable. Not that there's anything wrong with that. If you have those two games, FSN should televise playoff hockey on their primary channel, even if it means bumping the Dbacks from their usual position. In this case, Fox relocated baseball to channels 108/608, for their digital customers.

There are two issues here. First, many cable customers, who normally watch Dbacks games on Fox, dont get the higher digital channels. That wouldnt necessarily reduce viewership, except that your red letter Diamondbacks chose to abandon local TV for an exclusive cable contract with FSN in 2008. For ten years, games were aired on local channel 3, or split between 3 and cable. That all changed when Derrick Hall dumped not just Valley fans lacking cable, but the Colangelo era relationship with channel 3 as well.

The result is that a franchise, already hemorrhaging fans in a discouraging April, unwittingly blinded non digital cable fans from a pair of feel good victories. They'll "blame" it on the Coyotes of course, or bad luck, but it's a direct result of their own polarizing calculus that large swaths of fans dont matter.

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