Consumer Bob explains the complicated battle between Time Warner Cable SportsNet and other cable and satellite providers around time, as they try to get a piece of the coverage for the San Diego State Aztecs top ranked basketball team.
San Diego is a divided city.
You either live in the Padre side of town or you don't. Now another division is in the works: San Diego State basketball. A battle by cable and satellite providers is limiting the number of places people can watch their favorite teams.
The broadcast rights to the San Diego Padres is owned by Fox Sports Network. That channel is found on Cox Cable (and DirecTV) but not on Time Warner Cable. That means nearly half the city is unable to watch their local professional baseball team. Now the same thing could happen in college sports.
Time Warner Cable SportsNet picked up this year's broadcast of San Diego State's top ranked men's basketball team. The first games are in early November and right now no other cable or satellite provider has worked out a deal to carry the games. That means the ability to watch Aztecs basketball will depend on where you live.
"Obviously we want exposure," said San Diego State Associate Athletic Director Mike May, "We want all our fans to see our football and men's basketball."
But San Diego State is not involved in the negotiation. Time Warner actually purchased the rights to the games from CBS Sports after the previous Mountain West contract was dissolved. Cox Cable officials say any negotiations with Time Warner to carry the Aztecs will not take place in San Diego.
"Right now it is just a lot of jockeying for position," said San Diego State Sports MBA Director Scott Minto.
He said the business of sports and the high cost of broadcast rights doesn't always work to the advantage of the fans.
"You have already seen people that have stopped going to games because of the cost," said Minto. "Now if you can't afford to watch sports in your own house, that becomes a problem for the long term."
Minto says if fans are blocked from seeing the games on their home cable or satellite provider they could look for illegal streams online to work around the blackout.
"San Diego and Southern California has really become a battle ground between companies," May said. "There are so many new channels and trying to get carried on all platforms is challenging."
While May says the school has very little say on who carries the games this season, next year will be different. After this contract is up, the Aztecs basketball teams will be in the Big West Conference and SDSU may be able to work directly with local cable and satellite companies.
"The ideal is to get in front of as many consumers as you can in your own market," Minto said.
A big media audience helps draw more people to the games and also helps in recruiting.
Time Warner SportsNet starts on October 1 and will be on channel 403 in San Diego.