Once again it is the fans that suffer while billionaires fight over tip money.
Back in March, the Rays signed a new TV deal with Fox Sports Net to air 150 of the 162 games during the 2009 season. The move was made to increase the number of households that have access to the majority of Rays games. Last year, 69 games aired on the ION network which did not reach most of the state.
As part of the new deal, Fox Sports Net will show half of the games on Fox Sports Net Florida and half on their Sun Sports Network.
However, as we have been informed by several readers, there are a large number of fans that are unable to see the games being broadcast on Sun Sports.This will include tonight’s home opener.
This is a result of a a fees dispute between the cable companies and Sun Sports over the broadcast of Rays games.
Verizon spokesperson Bob Elek confirmed Verizon is negotiating with Sun Sports, and said, “We hope to have an agreement soon so we can show the games, but right now we are looking for an agreement that is in the best interests of our customers.”
The 75 Rays games on FSN are not effected and can be seen on Verizon and Knology, as well as other the other local cable and satellite companies — Bright House Networks, the Dish Network and DirecTV.
It appears as though customers of Verizon and Knology as well as Comcast and Cox Cable, do have Sun Sports on their cable packages, but the games are being blacked out [Ed note: Verizon may have reached an agreement with Sun Sports to air the games].
According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune this is affecting Rays fans in Sarasota and Charlotte County. Cox Cable is the primary cable provider in Gainesville and Ocala.
And these fans are also unable to turn to other packages such as MLB.tv or the Extra Innings package as Rays games would be blacked out in those areas as being part of the local Rays market.
Not only is this affecting Rays fans in these areas, but the Rays front office cannot be happy about this development. Sarasota, Charlotte County and the Gainesville region are three areas that the Rays have worked very hard to expand their fan base.
And tonight, when that fan base turns to Sun Sports to watch the home opener against the Yankees, they are more likely to see a rerun of “The Steve Harvey Show.”
Rays sign TV deal with Fox Sports Net [Bradenton Herald]
Verizon and Knology not showing Rays games on Sun Sports [St. Pete Times]
Comcast decides not to carry Rays on SunSports [Ft. Myers News-Press]
Cox Cable won’t show 75 Rays games [Gainesville Sun]
Comcast may take a swing [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]