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MASN Says Feed Was Not Interrupted; Comcast Apologizes [Update]

For at least a brief period last night, the Washington Nationals became, officially, unwatchable. Some Comcast and Cox subscribers both in Washington and in outlying counties missed a portion of last night's rain-delayed, extra-inning Nationals loss because the cable providers pulled the plug on their feed from MASN2, which was broadcasting the game.

Comcast issued a statement this afternoon apologizing for the error:

"We sincerely apologize to any customer who may have missed a portion of the 9th and 10th innings of last night's Nationals game. The interruption was the result of a unique set of circumstances that included a more than two hour rain delay coupled with extra innings, causing the channel to revert to its usual programming. Once the issue was detected our engineering teams worked to restore service before the end of the game, and we have since put a new fix in place so such a situation does not occur again. We again apologize to any customer who was impacted."

Gwen Sparks, a spokesman for Cox, said today that the network didn't miss much of the game.

"We didn't miss a lot when it came back," Sparks said. "We actually missed two or three minutes of the game when they started again, it was right before midnight. Our customers didn't miss whole chunks of the game, just 2-3 minutes, because of the signaling when it started up again live."

MASN2 is an "overflow" channel -- that is, it only exists when a ballgame is there to support it -- and on Comcast, for instance, it shares channel space with C-SPAN2. When play resumed last night at 11:40 p.m., after a two-hour, 10-minute rain delay, the Nationals began a bottom-of-the-ninth comeback. But Comcast subscribers in the DC area were stuck watching Sen. Tom Coburn on C-SPAN2. Cox subscribers in Fairfax County encountered a fishing show. Some viewers in Montgomery County, Arlington County and Prince William County also encountered problems.

In some areas, the MASN2 feed did not reappear until after midnight, when the game was in the tenth inning.

A MASN spokesman said this morning that the feed from Nationals Park continued uninterrupted last night; any problems resulted from the cable providers' failure to stick with the proper feed.

"The folks at MASN were shooting and producing and feeding the Nationals game from start to finish last night," MASN's Todd Webster said.

When play resumed last night, MASN customer service representatives received phone calls from viewers looking for the game. At the same time the Nationals scored two in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings in what became a 12-inning, 4-2 loss to Cincinnati, the regular MASN channel was showing the replay of a Baltimore Orioles game.

RCN, Dish Network and DirecTV subscribers did not have any problems with the MASN2 feed.

By Chico Harlan  |  June 11, 2009; 12:26 PM ET
 
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Next: Thanks, Holdes! Plus Comcast Apology and the Lineups [Update Again!]

Comments

How many more reasons do the Lerners need to be able to get out of the MASN deal that MLB hog-tied the Nats to before the team had an owner?

Posted by: ericp331 | June 11, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

This would not have happened had the Nats been allowed to negotiate their own regional sports network deal, instead of Angelos strong-arming Selig to give him the Nats' TV rights "in perpetuity."

If the Lerners were allowed to get out of the MASN deal after the 2006 season and entered into an agreement with Comcast SportNet, the Nats wouldn't be treated so shabbily. That's what happens when the O's owner owns MASN and lords over the Nats' TV rights with no chance for the Lerners to exercise an escape clause -- because there isn't one, thanks to Selig.

Posted by: ericp331 | June 11, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Chico, you should also look at what that "feed" consists of. Basically, it is ESPN News, with no updates about the game status; they come back to the game about a minute before it re-starts. At minimum, they could easily run a text scrawl over the ESPN News stuff with info about the game and when it will resume.

Why isn't showing the Nats game--and getting information about it out there--a priority for MASN? They treat it like an afterthought.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 11, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

So the Nats came back to tie in the 9th. BFD! Seriously folks, we're talkin bout the Nats. They've won 4 games. It was like 1 am. What were there-- 4 peeps out there still waiting vigorously by their TV sets for the dramatic end result between the Nats and the Cincinnati Reds?? Gimmie a break. Seriously.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 11, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

How many people really even care if they are on at all anymore. Start televising the minors it is more interesting right now.

Posted by: natsguy | June 11, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I think he means "literally unwatchable" but w/e.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 11, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Directv customer here. No problems with the MASN feed. The big problem is that during rain delays, MASN doesn't stay with the broadcast, or bump to Holliday and Knight, and instead goes to ESPN News without any clue on whether or when the game will resume. Thus, I tune out once a rain delay starts.

Posted by: AshburnVA | June 11, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

(raises hand)

---

How many people really even care if they are on at all anymore.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 11, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

dovelevine, I pay Comcast to bring me those broadcasts. They didn't. They failed. I was awake and wanted to watch the broadcast. Yes, it was a "BFD". So "Gimmie a break. Seriously."

Posted by: greggwiggins | June 11, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

All you saying who cares are missing the entire point.


Posted by: JDB1 | June 11, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I do care, which is why I raised my hand. Just to clarify.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 11, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

dovelevine, I pay Cox to bring me those broadcasts. They didn't. They failed.

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | June 11, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

One thing about a torturous season like this: not too hard to pick out the real fans vs. the rats jumping off the ship.

Just sayin'.

Posted by: burke2 | June 11, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"A MASN spokesman said this morning that the feed from Nationals Park continued uninterrupted last night; any problems resulted from the cable providers' failure to stick with the proper feed.

"The folks at MASN were shooting and producing and feeding the Nationals game from start to finish last night," MASN's Todd Webster said."

There's some serious MASN spin going on here. They conveniently ignore the interruption of their feed from the instant the rain delay began to the instant the game began again. That's a two hour interruption right there - bigger than the 18 minute gap on the Nixon tapes that brought down an administration. Would MASN have us believe that they were producing and feeding the ESPN News filler from Nationals Park all that time? No, they clearly relied on the cable companies to get the message from them that they were back on the air live with the game, which either MASN didn't send or the cable companies didn't get. MASN in no way gets off scot free on this.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 11, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

This is what MASN says all the time, WE have done eveything, We are not to blame.

Why was the HD feed a repeat of the Baltimore's game and not picked up from MASN2 as advertised the cable on-screen guide

MASN has been kicking the Nationals Fans in the teeth from day one. And in spite of everything they claim to have done we are still treated like dirt and last night was just another example to go with the hundreds in the past over the last five years.

Posted by: CBinDC1 | June 11, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

But why was the main MASN feed broadcasting the Nats since the Orioles game was long over? They've done that in the past when the Nats game ends on MASN and an Orioles game is still going--and I think have even done it a few times when the Nats were on the West Coast earlier this season. MASN screwed up somethning here--because the game should have been on the main MASN feed when it returned after the rain delay.

Posted by: TheFingerman | June 11, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

"Why isn't showing the Nats game--and getting information about it out there--a priority for MASN? They treat it like an afterthought."

Exactly why I want to know how Orioles fans are treated by MASN. Do they think MASN treats showing the O's game like an afterthought?

Posted by: nunof1 | June 11, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I have Direct TV. The Nats and the O's are on either 640 or 641. I think it would be easier for fans of either team if each team was ALWAYS on one particular channel, and not constantly moving from one or another. (But I understand from the initial posting that MASN2 only gets used if MASN1 is used) "Just sayin'" it would be easier. (Do half the posters hate me now?)

Posted by: 1of9000 | June 11, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

>>One thing about a torturous season like this: not too hard to pick out the real fans vs. the rats jumping off the ship.

No ship-jumpin here. But let's keep it all in perspective. Yea so Cox/Comcast/MASN
screwed up and missed an inning at 1 am.
This is the least of our problems. Seriously.
Lets keep it real folks.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 11, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

In case you hadn't noticed Peeps, Manny Acta is still manager and Stan Kasten is still, well who knows what, but he's still there. Lets keep our focus. There are bigger fish to fry.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 11, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Of course MASN isn't going to accept responsibility for what happened...but do you think they didn't know about it? These things don't happen to other teams. Is there any way that they can EVER get out of this BS deal?

Posted by: Howelsewouldateacherspendhistimeinthesummer | June 11, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

So much for Josh in RF - lineups are up in the new post.

Posted by: BGinVA | June 11, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

As a Comcast subscriber and Reds fan who wanted to see the game conclude last night it is a big deal. I went to the park to watch the game. Left once the skies opened up and came home hoping to watch the end of the game. Clearly Comcast is the most at fault for not switching back to the game. But MASN's response is essentially "Blame Comcast." It would seem to me they would want it to be easier for fans to watch the game. Can't Comcast just dedicate a channel to MASN-2? Why doesn't MASN insist on this? And with as many rain delays as there have been this season you would think this problem would be solved. It isn't. How selfish of me to spend $118 each month for cable and internet service from Comcast and actually want to watch a channel that is part of my subscription? I must be losing my mind. And as another commenter mentioned, why doesn't MASN run an alert at the top of the screen during ESPNEWS alerting people that the game is in a delay and when it may come back on. They don't make it easy for you to see the game. It really shouldn't be this hard.

Posted by: bg703 | June 11, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

dovelevine,

If you lived in Arlington and had Comcast, you would not have seen ANY of Tuesday's or Wednesday's Nats-Reds games, because MASN2 has been totally grey for the past two days.

MASN and Comcast are at fault. I don't know who should get more of the blame, but they both messed up, with MASN spinning BS and Comcast's horrible customer service playing an automated message and hanging up.

It all comes back to Angelos strong-arming Selig for the Nats' TV rights "in perpetuity" when the Nats were owned by MLB. Talk about a conflict of interest. The O's owner lords over the Nats' TV rights. What professional sports team owner in his right mind would let another owner control his own team's fortunes? And, from what I can remember, there's NO escape clause.

How many more instances of shoddy treatment do the Nats need before they can get someone -- Congress, the FCC, etc. -- to pull the plug on the MASN deal and let them sell their TV rights to whoever THEY want, just like every other professional sports team does? Why shouldn't the Nats be allowed to negotiate with Comcast SportsNet, which has a huge hole in its programming from April to September and would treat the Nats like an anchor team instead of dirt (which is how Angelos's MASN treats the Nats)?

Posted by: ericp331 | June 11, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

"No ship-jumpin here. But let's keep it all in perspective. Yea so Cox/Comcast/MASN
screwed up and missed an inning at 1 am.
This is the least of our problems. Seriously.
Lets keep it real folks."

Dove Normally I would agree, but this type of crap goes on way to often. It's gotten old. Someone should be held accountable

Posted by: JDB1 | June 11, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

"Can't Comcast just dedicate a channel to MASN-2? Why doesn't MASN insist on this?"

It would be hard for MASN to insist on Comcast dedicating a channel to MASN2 when for the large majority of the time all they'd have to show on it would be a blank screen.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 11, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

nunof1, I understand that the channel would be blank most of the time but DirecTV and Dish Network have an ESPN Alternate and ESPN2 Alternate channel that is only on when there is regional coverage of a sporting event. What I am suggesting does exist with other providers.

Posted by: bg703 | June 11, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

bg703, DirecTV and Dish network are satellite systems, not cable. That may make a difference in the way they operate. In fact, I'm sure it's easier for a satellite system to increase the bandwidth it offers customers than it is for a cable company to do it. Satellite systems would not need to dig up the ground, cable would.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 11, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

It sure seems like the 'Natinals' have been flushed down the same karmac toilet along with the Wizards and Redskins.
Whenever we think local sports can't get any worse, it does...

Posted by: spqr2k | June 11, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Never thought I'd be so happy to have bought an iPhone earlier in the day. Was able to buy the MLB At Bat application and listen to Charlie and Dave live while Comcast imitated a puckered sphincter.

Posted by: Juan-John | June 11, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I do care, which is why I raised my hand. Just to clarify.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 11, 2009 12:59 PM

-- -- -- -- - - - - - - - - -----------------

I care that you raised your hand, 1a1, and I care about what it represents.


@juan-john: I'm interested to know how closely the audio you get with that application follows the live game. Will it be better/easier to use in-stadium than a portable AM radio (which are not very easy to find, especially of a decent quality).

Posted by: ihatewalks | June 11, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

"@juan-john: I'm interested to know how closely the audio you get with that application follows the live game. Will it be better/easier to use in-stadium than a portable AM radio (which are not very easy to find, especially of a decent quality)."

I'm not juan-john, but I have an iPhone and the MLB.com At Bat app. There is a considerable delay between the live action and what you hear over the iPhone. It's internet streaming after all, so there's buffering and all that. Also, I have found that certain portions of Nationals Park are 3G network dead zones, and I can't get my precious e-mails there or the At Bat stream either. If you want to listen to Charlie and Dave while at the game, radio is the only way to go.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 11, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

As for portable radios for use at the game, I have one I got for about $25 at Radio Shack. Works fine. It's about the same size as my iPhone, actually.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 11, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Today's the third straight day that MASN2 has been a blank screen on Comcast in Arlington. I called Comcast's local number at 5:30 and was told that they're working on it and to call back if the problem is not resolved by tomorrow's game.

Ugh!

Posted by: ericp331 | June 11, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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