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DIRECTV Lowers MLB Extra Innings Price

In contrast with what they have done with NFL SUNDAY TICKET, DIRECTV is lowering the price of the MLB Extra Innings package this year once again. Last year the price dropped by 12.5%, and for the 2017 season the price will be $172.74 compared to last year’s $173.94, which isn’t much of a drop, but when the trends of cable TV and satellite TV prices continually going up, it is a good deal for baseball fans living outside of their favorite teams’ home television markets.

More from Awful Announcing:

In addition, DirecTV will include a free subscription to MLB.TV to those who buy Extra Innings so fans not only can watch out-of-market games on TV, but they can watch on computers, mobiles, tablets and connected TV’s. This is the third straight year that DirecTV is including MLB.TV with Extra Innings.

The price in essence remaining flat as last year is a good thing considering how DirecTV is planning to increase its NFL Sunday Ticket package by over 9% before the 2017 season and by another 2% after the season starts.

Still, subscribers not seeing a dramatic increase this year for the baseball package is a good thing, but they know that there is the potential for the other shoe to drop next season. For now, baseball fans who want to purchase MLB Extra Innings package on DirecTV get a price break, albeit small, for 2017.

MLB Extra Innings, unavailable on DISH Network, allows viewers to watch up to 60 out of market baseball games each week of the regular season, usually with a choice between home and away broadcast teams.

Cable TV Bills Going Up in 2017

Each year, due to inflation and other changes in the marketplace, services from cable TV providers and satellite TV providers tend to rise in price for the end consumer. The rise in cost has to do not only with inflation, but the rising costs providers face for carrying broadcast networks like CBS and Fox and the costs associated with carrying regional sports networks who have made big deals with local sports teams. According to Consumer Reports, here’s how your TV bill will be affected in 2017.

  • AT&T U-Verse: $2 to $8 more per month per package.
  • Cablevision/Altice/Suddenlink: 3.4 percent per month.
  • Comcast: $12 more per month.
  • Charter/Time Warner: pending upon adjustment of plan pricing for previous Time Warner customers.
  • Cox: 2 percent per video package.
  • Dish Network: $5 per month.
  • DIRECTV: Between $2 and $6 per month, plus $2.56 for regional sports networks in some but not all service areas.
  • Verizon: $3 per month.

Stay tuned to the TV, Internet and Phone Blog for more updates on pricing in the industry.

Alternatives to Cable TV Flourishing

While the sky is not falling quite as predicted a couple of short years ago with regards to cord cutters hurting the cable TV and satellite TV industries, one type of alternative to traditional cable programming is flourishing, with internet-connected TV devices growing in prevalence. NPD Connected Intelligence predicts that there will be 238 million installed internet-connected TV devices by 2019, representing a 59% growth over that time.

More from Multichannel News:

NPD said connected TVs will drive 45% of the growth in the next four years, while less expensive, streaming media players will drive 35% of that growth.

“With an ever-increasing number of connectable devices expected to be connected to the Internet, viewers will have the ability to choose their preferred option instead of using the only device they have attached to their TV,” John Buffone, executive director, industry analyst at NPD Connected Intelligence, said in a statement. “This shift will inevitably result in diminished usage for some devices.”

This year and through 2019, NPD also expects streaming media devices to be found in more homes than any other connected TV devices, pointing to products from companies such as Google, Roku, Amazon and Apple.  Likewise, NPD expects a consolidation and shakeout of operating systems to occur, as more TV makers opt to partner with the likes of Roku and Google and step away from managing their own app ecosystems.

NPD based its forecast and research on a consumer panel of more than 5,000 U.S. consumers, aged 18-plus.

How will this affect the cable and satellite TV business? Likely, it will still result in revenue for cable and satellite companies as these devices are powered by broadband internet that these providers also offer. Stay tuned to find out.

NFL Sunday Ticket on DIRECTV – Week 5 Schedule

The only way for NFL fans to catch every game, every Sunday on their home TVs is with NFL Sunday Ticket, exclusively available from DIRECTV. NFL Sunday Ticket and DIRECTV are both available from Mid-America Satellite. Check back each week for the times and listings for Sunday’s games on NFL Sunday Ticket right here at the TV, Internet and Phone Blog.

Here’s the Sunday afternoon schedule for Week 5 of NFL action:

  • 1pm EDT
    • New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns – Channel 705
    • Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins – Channel 706
    • Houston Texans at Minnesota Vikings – Channel 707
    • New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers – Channel 708
    • Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens – Channel 709
    • Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions – Channel 710
    • Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts – Channel 711
  • 4:05pm EDT
    • Atlanta Falcons at Denver Broncos – Channel 712
  • 4:25pm EDT
    • Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams – Channel 713
    • San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders – Channel 714
    • New York Giants at Green Bay Packers – Channel 715

Enjoy the games!

Networks and Cable Channels Bid for Big Ten Conference Rights

Current contracts to air Big Ten sports end after the 2016-17 season, with the conference now taking bids for either new contracts from new network and cable TV channels or extensions to the current contracts, which currently belong to ESPN and Fox. ESPN has been airing football and basketball games, with Fox airing the Big Ten Football Championship and running the Big Ten Network.

More from Awful Announcing:

But as Sports Business Journal reports, both ESPN and Fox have been undergoing cost cuts due to cord cutting and increased sports rights fees so their bids may not be as high as the Big Ten would like.

CBS has a basketball contract that includes the semifinals and finals of the Big Ten Tournament and would like to retain that portion and possibly a smaller package of rights. The same goes for Turner Sports which would like to have some basketball games that would compliment its NCAA Tournament rights.

NBC which has been mostly shut out of college sports except for the CAA, Ivy League and Notre Dame plans to explore a potential bid, but it’s not known how serious it will be.

The Big Ten bidding will be watched closely and with a conference footprint that goes from the Midwest all the way to the East Coast, the league expects that it will see increased rights and a financial windfall that will carry it well into the next decade and possibly beyond.

Could this be the tide turning on live sports rights, which up to this point have been the last vestige of moneymaking unaffected by cord cutting? We’ll see.

FS1 to Air FIFA Presidential Election on Cable TV

Fox Sports 1 (FS1), Fox’s attempt to compete with ESPN for 24 hour sports coverage on cable TV, will air extensive coverage of the FIFA Presidential Election on February 26, with six hours of programming dedicated to the event beginning at 3am EST, and additional preview programming the night before at 6pm EST.

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“This is an important news story with international repercussions, and as the primary home for televised soccer in the U.S., it’s our duty to cover it, and cover it well,” said David Nathanson, FOX Sports’ Head of Business Operations. “We look forward to working closely with FIFA and the incoming president as we gear up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and beyond.”

FS1’s wall-to-wall coverage begins on Thursday, Feb. 25 with a one-hour pre-election special at 6:00 PM ET. Hosted by Rob Stone, the program features exclusive sit-down interviews with each of the five candidates, Prince Ali Al Hussein, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino and Tokyo Sexwale, courtesy of FOX Sports soccer insider Grant Wahl and sister network Sky Sports in the U.K.

In the early morning hours on Friday in the U.S. (3:00-9:00 AM ET), Stone anchors more than six hours of live coverage from the FOX Network Center in Los Angeles as the process to elect a new FIFA president plays out. Analyst Alexi Lalas and contributor Mark Young join Stone in-studio, while Sky Sports’ Kate Abdo and Wahl provide the channel’s live coverage from the Hallenstadion in Zurich. Expanded coverage continues post 9:00 AM on FS2.

Election coverage is also live streamed via FOX Sports GO, FOX Soccer 2Go and online at FOXSportsGO.com. Viewers can also follow the commentary via social media on Facebook (facebook.com/foxsoccer) and Twitter (@FOXSoccer).

FS1 is channel 219 on DIRECTV, and is also available on all major cable TV providers.

Al Jazeera America Will Not Last as Cable TV Channel

Formerly known as Current TV, Al Jazeera America sought to remake cable TV news by making it respectable again. Instead of becoming CNN for young people, or CNN for smart people, as were its goals, it is now going under, killed by its lack of ratings and its inability to make its own brand in America, a place not really open to its Arabic origins.

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In a memo to the staff, Al Jazeera America’s chief executive, Al Anstey, said the “decision by Al Jazeera America’s board is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.”

“I know the closure of AJAM will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future,” he continued, using the company acronym. “The decision that has been made is in no way because AJAM has done anything but a great job. Our commitment to great journalism is unrivaled.”

At the companywide meeting, Al Jazeera America staff members, some in tears, were told that the decision to shutter the network had not been unanimous. Some of the channel’s leadership argued that the network provided an important service, and continued to win awards for its coverage. But in the end, the decision was an economic one. The channel, it was felt, had fallen victim to the lack of a business model beyond continuous support from Qatar, the energy-rich country that owns Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera America’s real problem, however, was that the audience it sought—young, willing to accept differing worldviews beyond the partisan Fox News and MSNBC and the lowest-common-denominator “journalism” of CNN—tends to get its news and watch video online. Young, media-savvy people don’t wait for the news to come to them on TV, they look to find it themselves online, where companies like Vice Media have been more successful in bringing quality content right to them. Al Jazeera America—beyond its branding problem—had potential, as did its predecessor, Current, but both failed because they wanted to do something new, but wound up just doing something very, very old.

Super Bowl I to Re-Air on Cable TV

NFL Network will re-air Super Bowl I to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Super Bowl this Friday at 8pm EST. The ninety-minute program will include NFL Films footage of the game, along with the original NBC Radio call by Jim Simpson and George Ratterman, with an introduction by Chris Rose at the beginning of the broadcast and at the beginning of the second half.

This re-airing is not the first, but the second re-airing of the game this year by NFL Network, the first of which was botched by the network. More from Awful Announcing:

In an article in the New York Times, a producer for NFL Network promised, “We’ll make sure we don’t ruin anything with the chatter.” Well, apparently after that article was published, NFL Network decided that chatter is exactly what America needed for the Super Bowl I  broadcast. Choosing to downplay the footage and the Jim Simpson call, NFL Network elected to have host Chris Rose carry the broadcast with a panel of six analysts including Steve Mariucci, Steve Wyche, Willie McGinest and Elliot Harrison. Instead of allowing the audience to hear the NBC Radio broadcast overlaid on top of the NFL Films footage, viewers heard the NFL Network panel talk over the footage with a few instances to listen to Simpson.

It went like this for most of the broadcast which lasted for three hours. It was a big disappointment for viewers who were hoping to see what the fuss over the lost footage was about. There were interviews with former Chiefs players like Len Dawson, Mike Garrett and Fred Williamson, but those segments were interspersed with the talk from the panel. Those studio segments went too long and failed to add any perspective to the game. Asides from Mariucci who grew up a Packers fan and watched Super Bowl I and Steve Wyche, none of the panel could give any personal historical anecdotes. In addition, NFL Network did a screen showing SB I footage in one box, a smaller box in the upper right hand corner showing the panel and below that, some tweets or facts about the broadcast.

NFL Network did add a scorebug that appeared at times over the footage, but that only made rare appearances. Overall, the Super Bowl I program turned out to be a three-hour highlight program rather than a re-broadcast of the NFL Films footage and it evolved into a chat fest between Rose and the analysts. After being quite excited to see what NFL Network had promised to be a look at the lost footage, it resulted in what could have easily been confused for a local cable access discussion.

Here’s hoping this time around, the archival footage will be allowed to stand on its own. NFL Network is channel 212 on DIRECTV.

NFL Sunday Ticket – Week 16 Schedule, Only on DIRECTV

At 14-0, the Carolina Panthers are inching toward the first perfect regular season record in the NFL since the New England Patriots in 2007, when they were perfect all the way up to the Super Bowl, where they were upset by the New York Giants in possibly the best Super Bowl ever. With many playoff spots clinched, some teams are jockeying for postseason position while others are still trying to sneak in, and many more are at the bottom, playing for pride and draft position.

With only a couple of weeks left, football season is nearing its end. Be sure to get your holiday weekend games in with NFL Sunday Ticket, only available from DIRECTV. Here are the games, times, and listings for Sunday’s games:

  • 1pm EST:
    • Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons – 705
    • Dallas Cowboys at Buffalo Bills – 706
    • San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions – 707
    • New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings – 708
    • Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 709
    • Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs – 710
    • Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins – 711
    • Jacksonville Jaguars at New Orleans Saints – 712
    • New England Patriots at New York Jets – 713
    • Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans – 714
  • 4:25pm EST
    • Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals – 715
    • Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks – 716

As always, enjoy the games, and if you’re looking to catch every game, every Sunday, contact Mid-America Satellite.

DISH Network Suffering Massive Subscriber Loss

While cord-cutting among cable TV customers is slowing, satellite TV provider DISH Network is reporting nearly a million customers lost from this time last year. The company reported with its most recent company earnings report that it maintains around 13.91 million subscribers, down from 14.04 million last year.

More from Variety:

Since Dish launched Sling TV this past February, the company has signed up an estimated 394,000 subscribers for the cheaper, slimmed-down over-the-top TV package priced starting at $20 per month, according to MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett. That would include a net gain of 155,000 for the third quarter of 2015.

That implies Dish dropped 178,000 satellite subscribers in Q3, which would mark its worst quarterly loss ever. “That’s dramatically worse than the 12K subscriber loss from a year ago, and leaves Dish’s traditional subscriber base shrinking at a shocking 3.7% annual rate,” Moffett wrote. (Dish does not disclose quarterly figures for satellite TV customers; it now combines traditional pay-TV and Sling TVcustomers into its total subscriber numbers.)

CEO Charlie Ergen reiterated the outline of the Sling TV strategy to investors Monday, saying the skinnier Sling TV over-the-top offering is designed to appeal to younger, millennial consumers who aren’t interested in a taking a full pay-TV package.

“For certain customers, particularly millennials who are not in the pay-TV universe today… it’s an attractive product,” Ergen said.

But Sling TV has not become the growth engine Ergen had hoped, and he acknowledged that the OTT service is not performing up to a technical level customers expect: “We’re not there yet,” Ergen said.

It’s not clear the extent to which Dish’s subscriber losses were the result of cord-cutting — that is, people canceling pay-TV service altogether — and how much was the result of consumers switching to competitors. In the quarter, AT&T looked to be “somewhat successful” in capturing share with bundles that combined DirecTV and mobile service, Ergen said.

Dish has already made strides to try to combat this with their new slimmed down Sling TV service, but with AT&T and DIRECTV now a monolith, they will struggle to keep up.