Crim: TV coverage dispute leaves Comcast subscribers unable to watch Cardinals

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto participates in the live television broadcast of the Cincinnati Reds with Barry Larkin, center, and John Sadak, left, in the third inning of the MLB game between between the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022.

St Louis Cardinals At Cincinnati Reds

Bally Sports Midwest carries both the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues.

QUINCY — If watching the Cardinals flounder during the first six weeks of the Major League Baseball season has been painful, some fans in West-Central Illinois will get a reprieve of sorts.

It was announced last week that subscribers to Comcast and its Xfinity television service can no longer watch any of Diamond Sports Group’s 18 channels because of a carriage dispute, including Diamond’s Bally regional sports networks.

That left some fans of 12 Major League Baseball teams, including the Cardinals, out in the cold.

Comcast, Charter and DirecTV are the three major cable providers that host Bally. While deals were reached with both Charter and DirecTV, negotiations stalled when Comcast wanted to put Bally on a higher, or premium, tier.

The dispute, of course, also centered around money, with both sides arguing their demands were reasonable.

(Bally Sports Midwest carries both the Cardinals and the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues.)

The future of Diamond, a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcasting Group, is murky.

It is in the middle of a protracted bankruptcy process brought on by the decline in traditional TV viewership and rise in new online streaming services, with a hearing on its restructuring plan that could help avoid liquidation set for June 18.

One of the keys to that plan, according to several media outlets, is Diamond reaching an agreement with major distributors like Comcast. That could still happen, but MLB teams and leagues prefer to have games be part of a basic package rather than as a premium add-on, a potential sticking point.

MLB last season had to take over production and distribution of Padres and Diamondbacks games after Diamond, under the weight of heavy debt, let rights payments to the Padres lapse and was unable to agree to an amended deal with the Diamondbacks.

Should the bankruptcy judge not approve Diamond’s bankruptcy plan, MLB will likely revisit the idea of a potential nationwide streaming package first floated over the winter.

The uncertainty of television revenue this season and beyond already has prompted some teams to curtail spending.

While this plays out, Comcast said its affected subscribers will receive $8 to $10 per month in credits to their accounts until an agreement – if there is one – is reached.

Maybe by the time the Cardinals return to the airwaves, they will have figured out to add some punch to what has been a punchless offense.

The Cardinals have scored three runs or fewer a National League-worst 20 times and are averaging slightly less than 3.5 runs per game. Their 23 home runs in 34 games are the fewest in the major leagues.

Normally reliable sluggers Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt have two homers apiece. Willson Contreras is the only regular starter with a slugging percentage above .400. Promising outfielder Jordan Walker, struggling at the plate, was sent back to the minors.

Of their first 34 games this season, 25 have been decided by three runs or fewer, the second-most in baseball. The Cardinals are 13-12 in those games and 15-19 overall. St. Louis, sporting a .214 team batting average, presumably could have a much different record with a little timely hitting.

The bottom of the 10th inning of Saturday’s game against the Chicago White Sox encapsulated the Cardinals season so far.

Bases loaded, nobody out, down a run. Any ball hit out of the infield scores the tying run. Ditto for a double-play groundout up the middle. A base hit could have won it.

Instead, three consecutive strikeouts – interrupted by a lengthy rain delay – and the worst team in baseball escaped with a 6-5 victory.

Then, on Sunday, the Redbirds managed just four hits in a 5-1 loss. The White Sox, with just one win in 14 road games entering the series, took two of three at Busch Stadium to improve to 8-26.

On the bright side, at least some fans could enjoy a sunny Sunday afternoon instead of watching.

Miss Clipping Out Stories to Save for Later?

Click the Purchase Story button below to order a print of this story. We will print it for you on matte photo paper to keep forever.

Related Articles