Sacramento Kings television coverage at risk

KINGS-DISH

When the Sacramento Kings signed a new mega television deal with Comcast SportsNet California earlier this summer, it was viewed as a huge boon for everyone.  But now a large group of Kings fans are at risk for losing access to their beloved team.

Dish Network is threatening to pull the plug on both the Sacramento and Bay area sports giant (as well as other markets) as of December 1, leaving Kings, Warriors, Sharks, Giants and Athletics fans without their sports fix.

Here is the official Comcast SportsNet California release:

“With the upcoming expiration of our agreement, we are growing increasingly concerned that DISH is not willing to work toward mutually acceptable terms for continuing carriage of Comcast SportsNet California. This unwillingness to recognize the value of our live game coverage of the Kings, Sharks, A’s, Earthquakes and CIF high school sports, as well as exclusive Raiders programming, is disappointing. Comcast SportsNet California is simply asking DISH to meet fair market value and the terms that have already been established with our other distribution partners. We feel that the time is right to inform the passionate viewers of Comcast SportsNet California that they may soon be unable to watch their favorite teams via DISH’s service.”

Dish Network is pushing back against Comcast with a statement of its own:

“Comcast SportsNet is demanding a 40 percent price increase for more than 90 percent of DISH customers in each of the affected markets, when only a small fraction of those consumers actually watch the channels. This heavy-handed tactic is troubling given Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable that would allow it to exercise even more power to leverage programming content in anti-competitive ways.”

While Dish states that Comcast is asking for a 40 percent bump, reports have the increase being negotitated at less than 10 percent.

According to published reports, Dish cut ties with Comcast SportsNet New England in August, causing Bostoners to lose coverage of the Celtics and Bruins.  And they are in similar disputes in Chicago and the Washington-Baltimore area, which would cost viewers coverage of the Bulls, Blackhawks, Wizards and Capitals.

It appears that Dish is drawing a line in the sand with regards to regional sports coverage.  The satellite television company boasts more than 14 million subscribers nationwide and is reportedly the third largest pay-television provider in the nation.

With the Sacramento Kings off to their best start in more than a decade, Dish Network customers might want to start looking for another service provider now with the potential loss in coverage a week away.  The Kings have a favorable December schedule, including 11 of 15 games at home and eight games against Eastern Conference opponents.  It would be a shame to miss the action due to a contract squabble.

Subscribers wanting to voice their disappointment over potentially losing Kings coverage are being urged to call 1-844-I-Want-CSN or log on to IWantCSNCA.com.

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About: James Ham

James Ham is the senior editor of Cowbell Kingdom, providing extensive Kings coverage through news analysis, in-depth interviews with players and staff and daily coverage of breaking news since 2010. Along with providing original content for the site, including the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast and his weekly Sunday Musings column, James also contributes to ESPN.com and is one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary film "Small Market, Big Heart".