EDIT: Because I consider it some of my best writing, I'll leave the below FanPost intact, but it is no longer relevant. Cox has finished negotiations and will carry all 140 games.
According to Peck, Cox received "some calls" from customers upset by the abbreviated Royals' schedule and heard of other fans upset by the decision.
"We know that there are some pretty passionate Royals fans," Peck said. "The issue that we have is that the sports programming is very expensive. Our research tells us that 25 percent of our viewers are sports fans and the others don't watch any.
"As we make decisions on programming, we have to consider all of our customers."
Warning: suitably coarse language to follow.
At least two of the "some calls" came from me and Steve Perry. We were answered with this same bullshit last season.
Where to begin?
- Only 25 percent of viewers are sports fans? SEVENTY FIVE PERCENT OF VIEWERS DO NOT WATCH ANY SPORTS? IN WHAT FUCKING UNIVERSE? This is Omaha, Nebraska. Some people in this city like to follow the local collegiate teams, the whats-their-names... oh yeah, the Cornhuskers. And that private school... right, Creighton. And every summer there's some kind of spectacle of baseball here. Whatever.
Point is, you have got to be shitting me. According to this boring pdf, Omaha had a median age of 35.2 in 2007, with a median household income of $55k. So here's a mostly adult population, plenty capable of sending a small fortune every month to Cox Cable. I don't care what city it is - if you told me that 75% of its population don't watch any sports on TV, I wouldn't know whether to laugh in your face or slap it.
Only 25% of viewers watch sports? Is that why Cox has at least two ESPN and Fox Sports Net channels in its lineup? Is that why the town has at least two successful sports radio stations?
What I really want to know is, who the fuck was paid money to produce these findings, and where can I sign up to be paid money to do it too?
- If Cox had to pay for those games, Miss Peck told me, then the cost would be passed on to subscribers.
Well, yes. I believe that's called "trade," a system in which I give you a pile of my money, and you give me what I want. I realize not everyone can get what they want from a cable carrier, especially in these tough economic times in which we have no idea how the privately-held Cox company is doing (my guess: they're still getting a lot of my money). But, let me tell you a couple of stories about that.
First, before I talked to Miss Peck, I talked to some random guy at Cox about the issue. He gave me this line about having to raise rates if they got the games. I asked him if that's such a problem, why am I paying so that everyone can get Home and Garden Television in high definition?
He told me, "Well, if you want a la carte cable, you'll have to take that up with your congressman."
Yes. A representative of a business - and remember, a business is the entity to which I give my money, in return for some good or service, and I may choose not to give them my mony - told me that I should take my customer service issue to Congress.
The mind boggles.
The second story is the letter I got midseason last year. Oh, Cox was so proud of all they had accomplished. Extended service to the whole metro area, they declared! Put the digital signal system into place, they trumpeted! Obtained even more high definition channels, such as HGTV and the Golf Channel! Could they have done any more work for the good of mankind? They were pretty sure they could not!
Oh, and because of all this stuff they did, they had to raise rates. Sorry.
Yep. Not two months after Miss Peck told me they were so worried about it, they did it. Only, they didn't raise my rates and give me what I wanted. They raised rates and gave me a bunch of shit I don't want. So I guess it's ok to do that to sports fans, but heaven forbid we do it to HGTV and golf fans!
Wait a damn minute... isn't golf a sport?
Whew, cognitive dissonance attack. Had to medicate it with huge piles of someone else's money.
- Every other TV carrier in the market is carrying 140 games. Only Cox is electing to carry 100. The article tells us that this is a problem in Wichita and Topeka, too. I guess there aren't any sports fans there, either. Certainly not Royals fans. That would just be nutty.
Never mind that Omaha is home to the AAA affiliate of the Royals. Never mind that all eyes are on a son of Nebraska to continue crushing dingers for KC as he did on Opening Day. Who cares? According to Cox's market research (proudly conducted by the AARP, apparently), in a crowd of 100 people, only 25 could even name a sport.
- How much would it cost Cox to carry those games? Of course they won't say. Word is that Fox Sports charges on a per-customer basis. Fine, that gives a little more credibility to the "we'd have to raise rates and we'll never ever ever do that no sir" line of whining. But let's think about it.
How much could FSN be asking, really? Back in the bad old days, 2001, Kristen Peck's predecessor said Cox had 180,000 subscribers in Omaha. How much does it cost FSN to do 140 games in high definition? Say Cox decided to raise rates solely for FSN. If rates were raised by a dollar (last year's increase was something like five or six, if I remember correctly), that would make $2.16 million a year, from Omaha alone. Somehow I don't think they're asking anything that high.
Consider also the fact that every other regional carrier has the full schedule. Can't Cox (which, I read somewhere I'm too lazy to cite, is the nation's third-largest cable company) afford it? Are they that strapped for cash? Goodness, it's a wonder they can continue operating at all, let alone add HGTV in hi-def to their lineup.
To conclude: what. The fuck. Ever. I currently live in an apartment (my own basement, you'll recall), so I can't install a satellite dish. But to my fellow Omahans, I advise you to contact Kristen Peck, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs (biography and hilariously high-resolution photo here, phone number 402-934-0256, email address firstname.lastname@example.org, and she's on LinkedIn, where she says she's interested in "getting back in touch"). Express your feelings to her so she can look down her nose at you, the insane passionate minority fanatic of these so-called "sports." Then follow the lead of Steve Perry, Lee Warren, and me whenever I get a house, and start giving your piles of money to DirecTV.
I might just cancel my cable even though I can't get satellite for now. I can download my favorite shows. The only other reason I subscribe? You guessed it. To watching fucking sports. No sense in continuing to pay for it if I can't watch the sports I want.
To conclude my conclusion, and tie it all together neatly: Fuck Cox Cable.