I exchanged some more emails with a member of Verizon’s PR staff, as I continue to try to get a better understanding of the issues previously mentioned here, with FiOS customers in some parts of the D.C. area unable to get Comcast SportsNet Plus (CSN+).
What I learned in that email exchange might be helpful to some of you who are trying to understand why you can’t get Caps and Wizards games on CSN+ via FiOS in your area, when a FiOS customer in a neighboring county can. Or why you could get MASN2 on your FiOS channel 1 during baseball season, but can’t get CSN+ now.
If you are a FiOS customer in a part of the D.C. area that gets CSN+, it is shown on your channel 1. For you, that channel is called Fios1. This distinction between Fios1 and channel 1 is key to understanding this whole situation.
For the DC market, FiOS1 is available—according to the CSN Plus Listings on CSNWashington.com—in the following areas: Montgomery County and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland and then Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Loudoun County, Prince William, Spotsylvania County and Stafford County in Virginia.
Now for FiOS customers in someplace like Howard County, you have a channel 1. That channel was carrying MASN2 this summer. But, that channel is now blank for you, most or all of the time, according to one FiOS customer who lives there. Channel 1 for all of these particular FiOS customers is not FiOS1; it is just channel 1 and it does not carry CSN+.
The reason channel 1 carried MASN2 for these FioS customers this summer is, according to Verizon’s PR staff, because “MASN makes MASN2 available as a full-time feed. Comcast does not make CSN+ available as a full-time feed. At this time, [Verizon is] not able to handle a part-time feed like that, so outside of where [Verizon has] FiOS1, [they] cannot offer a part-time channel like CSN+.”
So, the only way FiOS customers in these areas could get CSN+ on FiOS channel 1 would be if either:
1.) Verizon turns Channel 1 into FiOS1 in these locations, like it is in all the locations listed above or 2.) Comcast SportsNet decides at some point to turn CSN+ into a full-time feed like MASN does with MASN2.
As for point number 1, Verizon says that FiOS1 is “a local channel that [Verizon] offers right now in three areas: DC metro, Long Island (New York), and Northern New Jersey. As [FiOS] moves forward, [they'll] announce any plans to expand the channel.”
People can debate where the DC metro area begins and ends, but for right now, according to the way FiOS defines it with FiOS1, it does not include some areas that are as close as about 20 miles to where the Caps and Wizards play their home games.
If I could get Verizon to answer one question, it would be: What specifically is preventing them from putting FiOS1 on channel 1 right now in these other DC area locations where there is demand for the CSN+ games? That’s the one thing I still have not gotten a clear answer on.
As for option number 2, this would require CSN+ to fill the time outside of games with some type of content. MASN2 did this by airing ESPN News. I have not heard whether or not this is something CSN would consider or even has the capacity to do. I only know that they want to help Verizon find a solution to this problem.
Despite the uncertainties, one things is pretty clear—a lot of people are losing in the current set-up. Caps and Wizards fans are not able to watch approximately a dozen of each team’s games, FiOS risks losing some of these fans to competing cable TV companies, CSN is not having some of their content seen by people who want that content and, finally, the teams whose games aren’t being seen are missing out on some opportunities to reach current and potential fans.
We need a beer summit.