Q. Is there a way to get access to local broadcasts of televised St. Louis Cardinals baseball in the Quad-Cities? Is there a reason Mediacom cannot at least pick up selected broadcasts from Fox Sports Midwest on one of its channels? My question has to do with picking up local Cardinals broadcasts from Fox Sports Midwest. I'm not sure why Mediacom can pick up Comcast broadcasts of Cubs games on a number of different channels (in addition to the Comcast channel) but never a Fox Sports Midwest Cardinals broadcast. And if Mediacom is unable to do so, I'm wondering what other alternatives exist in the Quad-Cities for receiving Fox Sports Midwest. — Craig

A. We contacted Mediacom to find out. Spokeswoman Phyllis Peters responded:

"Mediacom's decision on which sports networks to carry is not based on a preference for specific teams whose games are televised on those networks. When it comes to Major League Baseball (MLB), some games are televised on the national sports networks like ESPN, Fox Sports 1 or TBS. A larger number are televised on Regional Sports Networks (RSNs). In Iowa and most of Illinois, the RSNs are Comcast Sports Chicago (CSC) which purchased rights to televise Chicago Cubs baseball; and FOX Sports Midwest (FS-M), which purchased rights to cover the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals.

"Live broadcasts of professional and collegiate sporting events are the RSNs most important programming, and RSNs are among the most expensive channels carried by a video distributor (cable or satellite). Mediacom is a distributor of programming owned and controlled by a small number of companies who own the sports networks and partner with professional teams. Decisions about which sports channels to carry are all about the high costs. Network owners (Comcast, Fox, others) collect monthly fees based on the total number of households in a region where the RSN is available on the distributor's lineup. In addition to the high monthly fee, there is also a requirement that the channel be placed in the subscription level that reaches the greatest number of viewers — Family Cable. Mediacom has advocated for the flexibility to add alternative sports channels to an optional tier or sports package where the fee would be charged only to the viewers who intentionally request the inclusion of that sports network. Network owners do not allow that option for these RSNs

"Because of the high costs associated with RSNs, most cable and satellite companies (distributors) carry just one RSN. In recent years, the number of other sports networks has grown considerably, and distributors have been required to add many more channels (channel owners typically tie the offerings in "all-or-nothing" bundles). Thirteen years ago, a typical Mediacom Family Cable lineup included three full-time sports networks. Today, there are more than a dozen sports networks in a Family Cable subscription. It would be very expensive to add another RSN to the mix because subscribers already bear the high costs of sports networks, whether they watch those channels or not.

"The reader's inquiry mentioned that he sees Cubs games on multiple channels. RSNs each have an extra 'plus' or overflow channel, but unlike the BTN, which televises other college teams' live games during football or basketball season, MLB games may appear on both the regular RSN channel and the 'plus' channel. Mediacom carries the channels but has no control or input on the programs or schedules."

Ask the Times appears on Thursdays and Saturdays. You can call 563-333-2632, email ask@qctimes.com or write Ask the Times, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801.

 

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