Still disconnected from Dish Network in a carriage dispute and with the Boston Celtics set to open their 2014-15 NBA season on Wednesday night, Comcast SportsNet New England has launched a radio campaign aimed at turning up fan heat on the DBS provider.
CSN New England, the regional sports network home to the Celtics, said it has secured radio schedules within the Boston DMA and throughout its six-state TV territory that urge listeners that reach out to Dish and demand that the provider restore the service, or switch to providers that carry the channel. Boston opens its season at home against Brooklyn on Oct. 29.
The RSN has been dark to Dish Network subscribers since Aug. 6. The carriage contract between the RSN and the No. 2 DBS provider expired on June 30, but there were a series of subsequent extensions.
The RSN counts some 4 million subs throughout New England, mainly via Comcast and DirecTV, which are battling in bankruptcy court over the fate of another sports network, CSN Houston.
Noting that all other providers are carrying the RSN, CSN New England officials said negotiations with Dish continue, and it hopes that the No. 2 satellite provider will agree to terms. Dish is also out of contract with a number of Turner Broadcasting System-owned services.
“We are disappointed that Dish has dropped Comcast SportsNet New England and continue negotiations in hopes that they will provide the region’s passionate fans with access to Comcast SportsNet's exclusive Patriots coverage and live Celtics games in advance of the NBA's regular season,” said the RSN in a statement. “We encourage Dish customers to contact Dish directly by calling 1-800-823-4929, or switch to another provider.”
On Tuesday, Dish officials offered no additional comment, but reissued the statement it released in August: "Comcast Sportsnet New England wants to put a double-digit rate increase on the backs of consumers for a channel that has seen viewership drop over 40 percent since 2011. Dish is committed to providing high-quality sports programming at an appropriate value. We urge Comcast Sportsnet New England to work with Dish to strike that balance."
The radio spot, which is airing on Boston’s WEEI, WZLX and The Sports Hub, and in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, shoots with hoops parlance in an attempt to press Dish.
The copy, pointing out that team is back on the RSN, says in part that “if you’re a Dish subscriber, they’ve boxed you out. That means no [point guard Rajon] Rondo, no Celtics. Dish has dropped CSN New England. To get it back, call 1-800-823-4929 and demand Dish restore your Celtics coverage.”
The message then moves toward a switch assist, noting that DirecTV, Charter, Cox, Verizon FiOS, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and other local provider all carry Comcast SportsNet.