Contrary to earlier reports, Comcast Cablevision will not pick up New England Sports Network’s broadcast of the Sept. 29 football game between Yale and Holy Cross.
Comcast officials prematurely announced last week that the game would be broadcast to the Yale campus and surrounding areas on local public access channel CN8. But yesterday, officials at both NESN and Comcast confirmed that an agreement was never reached.
NESN never agreed to provide the feed of the Yale contest alone, rather offering Comcast the option of carrying a whole weekend of the channel, which would include the Yale football game, a Boston Red Sox game and a Boston Bruins’ exhibition game. But Comcast officials balked at the idea, leaving Yale football fans caught in the middle of a lengthy dispute between the two companies.
“NESN never offered just the Yale game, and [we] never said that we would do just the Yale game,” NESN director of marketing Peter Plaehn said.
Officials at both NESN and Comcast said this is just the latest in a long line of failed negotiations. The disagreement results from NESN’s desire to be part of Comcast’s basic cable package — but the cable provider refuses to do so.
Joseph McDonagh, the secretary of the New Haven Cable Advisory Council, said his group has tried numerous methods to attempt to bring NESN to Comcast in previous years, all to no avail.
“We have presented Comcast with petitions from 1,500 people, letters from 16 state representatives and senators, as well as letters from two of the mayors from the surrounding area, but Comcast refuses to listen,” McDonagh said.
Comcast’s actions in this matter came as no surprise to McDonagh.
“It is indicative of Comcast’s attitude,” McDonagh said. “They consider subscribers’ interests to be insignificant. People in this area pay 15 to 25 percent higher cable rates than other urban areas in Connecticut for less programming. But Comcast doesn’t care. Their profitability is the highest in the industry.”
Comcast’s general manager Tom Coughlin placed the ball in NESN’s court, saying they were trying to pressure his company into picking up the channel full time. For that reason, he said he is not willing to provide a full weekend of programming.
“[Comcast picking up the full slate of weekend programming] plays into NESN’s strategy of trying to make us look bad in the marketplace,” Coughlin said. “They want to tie things together that are not related.”
Plaehn said just offering the Yale football game would be unfair to New Haven residents who want NESN for other sports programming.
“It would not have been fair to put on a Yale football game to please Yale fans while fans of the Boston Red Sox, for instance, are still unable to see their team,” Plaehn said.
The Yale athletics department is still attempting to bring the game to campus and the surrounding areas, officials said yesterday.
“We are going to do everything we can to have the broadcast aired in this market,” assistant athletics director Wayne Dean said. “The ability for both the Yale community and the New Haven community to watch this game is very important to us.”