Comcast SportsNet Northwest recently responded to a comment the Portland Trail Blazers filed with the Federal Communications Commission.
Here’s some background information from CSNNW’s side, via a source with knowledge about the situation.
Web streaming — The Blazers’ efforts to stream CSNNW-televised games on the internet has plateaued. Web streaming is still an option. However, it is not the driving force as CSNNW and the Blazers attempt to find middle ground during their nearly three-year dispute. CSNNW is steadfast in its opinion that web-streaming is not the end-all answer, nor is it currently the main issue during negotiations. A small number of professional sports franchises stream home games live in their home market, including MLB’s San Diego Padres and New York Yankees, and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls. However, CSNNW believes that by participating in live web streaming the station is hurting itself and the “whole thing falls apart,” since revenue from live game streams would not compensate for the additional income that would be derived if carriers such as DirecTV, Dish Network and Charter picked up CSNNW.
Deadlines — The Blazers’ tendency to apply public deadlines to certain key issues has hampered the negotiation process and backed the organization into a corner. Big picture, the Blazers and CSNNW want a resolution and are trying to find middle ground. But both sides are engaged in a public battle — thus, the Blazers’ FCC filing, and strong recent comments by team president Larry Miller about the situation — and feel that they must stand up for themselves during the process.
Leverage — Three major TV providers — DirecTV, Dish Network and Charter — do not carry CSNNW. If just one reaches an agreement with CSNNW, the other two will immediately be pressured to give in. CSNNW is currently engaged in talks with all three providers. However, none of the holdouts are leading the charge when it comes to resolving the dispute.
Resolution — CSNNW is open to “creative” ways to break the impasse. A deal to end the dispute could be finalized by the start of the 2010-11 NBA season. A resolution is not imminent, though.