What DISH/FS-1 dispute means for CougFans

COUGFANS WITH DISH Network are well aware Fox Sports 1 and the carrier are involved in a rates dispute and that DISH says they will black out the WSU-Rutgers game on Thursday. So what kind of overall damage are WSU fans looking at here? Just how many WSU and Pac-12 games will be on Fox Sports 1 this season?

Exactly how many WSU games will be broadcast on FS-1 this season can’t be known yet because TV networks make their picks throughout the season. But...

Dave Hirsch, Pac-12 Vice President of Communications, was good enough to get back to Cougfan.com immediately with some information so we could break it down for you from an overall Pac-12 perspective.

FOX has a total of 22 Pac-12 football games they will broadcast this year, same as in 2013.

Of that 22, FOX in 2014 must televise a minimum of eight Pac-12 regular season games via broadcast television (FOX). So the maximum number of Pac-12 tilts to be shown on FOX Sports 1 this season will be 14 games. (Six of the 14 Pac-12 games to be shown on FS-1 have already been chosen thus far, the rest to be chosen during the season.)

Last season, FOX broadcast did not have to carry eight games – they wound up broadcasting just five, and FOX Sports 1 televised 17 games.

Last season, three WSU games were on Fox Sports 1. So if last year to this year is apples-to-apples, it’s at least possible, with FS-1 going from 17 to 14 total Pac-12 games in 2014, one might surmise the Cougs may only be shown on that channel once more this season after Rutgers. (Then again, it’s probably folly to try and make such predictions in the current TV climate -- FS-1 could just as easily broadcast more WSU games in 2014 than in 2013.)

What does seem certain -- DISH and Fox Sports 1 have strongly indicated they’re going to hold firm and black out the WSU-Rutgers game on Thursday, and the other three games on FS-1 in Week 1, (Colorado State vs. Colorado, North Dakota State at Iowa State, SMU at Baylor.)

Cougfan.com engaged both DISH and FS-1 on Twitter this week. Only DISH responded but alas, DISH responded with scripted fare and ignored other questions. Too bad. There are several sides to this but some of the more galling are:

--Why did DISH and Fox Sports 1 wait until six days before the game before making it known they would black out WSU-Rutgers? The most likely answer was DISH didn’t want to give their customers time to switch to a new carrier.

-- After spending two years courting Cougar and Pac-12 fans to switch to DISH so they could see all the games, how DISH could announce Friday they were blacking out Thursday's Wazzu season opener is nothing short of remarkable. "BOHICA!" DISH seems to be saying to its customers who in the last 24 months signed a 2-year contract with the carrier, (Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.)

-- Surely FS-1 isn’t charging DISH something they’re not charging the other carriers, so why is it DISH is the only carrier taking the extraordinarily penal step of blacking out the game and telling their paying customers to go pound sand, while Comcast, DirecTV, et. al. have agreed to show the game on FS-1?

-- Why isn’t DISH, at the least, proactively offering compensation to customers, rather than still billing full price for CFB games not provided?

Actually, we can answer that last one. If you call DISH and complain, they will offer you some kind of discount, extra programming, something. But you have to call and complain.

And one other thing. DISH, a number of media writers have opined over the past few days, has taken the unprecedented step of blacking out select games, from one sport, on one ancillary channel, because there are not any “must-see” CFB games on FS-1 this first week.

In Week 5, DISH will run the risk of ticking off the LA and Phoenix markets, with UCLA at ASU on tap Thursday, Sep. 25. But prior to that, in Week 2, BYU and Texas is scheduled to be shown on FS-1. BYU has a decent following but Texas fans might raise a particularly loud, long and damaging PR effort in a case such as this one. It won't help WSU fans in Week 1, but it might save another WSU game(s) down the road on DISH and Fox Sports 1.

A few hours after this article was published, DISH and Fox Sports 1 announced they had come to an agreement and the WSU-Rutgers game, as part of the 14 Pac-12 games to be aired on FS-1, would be televised.

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