PhiloTV don’t give no pucks — or other local sports

By Michael Battista
Sports Editor

When I was informed of the switch to PhiloTV online cable from the traditional coaxial cord in the wall version we had at the College, I was pretty excited. We were promised HBO and high-definition channels. We even get all the major sports networks, like National Hockey League (NHL) and National Football League (NFL) networks.

I was sold… until I decided that I wanted to watch the New York Rangers play against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday, Feb. 29. I got my account set up for the first time and was ready to watch the game.

There was one issue: PhiloTV doesn’t carry the MSG Network —  which owns the rights to broadcast most of the Rangers’s regular season games — or any versions of it on its channel lineup.

That wouldn’t be an issue, though, since PhiloTV includes the NHL Network, which covers most of the NHL teams and periodically covers Rangers games. The problem, though, is that PhiloTV doesn’t have complete coverage of local teams because, in this area, the games get blacked out due to contracts that teams like the Rangers have with television networks like MSG to cover the games.

The NHL regular season ends in early April and the playoffs will be covered on the NBC networks along with NHL Network, I assume. However, the fact that I can’t watch my local team is ridiculous. The Rangers are battling to keep their top three spot in the Metropolitan Division, and in order to experience the games live, I am forced to stream games illegally or listen to the radio.

I’m a simple person, TCNJ. I’m a simple person with a simple need to watch guys skate around on a sheet of ice and hit a small black puck into a net while mercilessly beating the crap out of one another. Why couldn’t you find a provider that could let me watch my team do that?

PhiloTV cuts students’ access to local sport teams. (AP Photo)
PhiloTV cuts students’ access to local sport teams. (AP Photo)

Then I started to realize that the College is also missing coverage of a lot of New York and Philadelphia sport teams because of PhiloTV.

The absence of the MSG Network means no regular season games for teams such as the New York Knicks, New Jersey Devils or New York Islanders.

If I were an Islanders fan, I would want to see my team battle for a higher seed in the division. If I were a Devils fan, while they may not be in the playoff race, if I had missed Martin Brodeur’s retirement ceremony, I would be beyond pissed off.

Are you are a baseball fan? That’s too bad, because students at the College no longer receive the Yankees Entertainment and Sports (YES) Network with the new PhiloTV services, which means no New York Yankees regular season games. To top it off, this also means no more New York Nets basketball games — but is that really a loss considering how awful the Nets are this year? New York Mets fans are also unable to receive the SportsNet New York (SNY) channel, which means that they can’t “get your New York sports here!”

Philly sports fans get the shaft, too, since we lack Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, which covers Philadelphia teams such as the Phillies, Flyers and 76ers.

I understand that Comcast isn’t the best provider of cable, and I bet this PhiloTV deal was great in terms of the College coming out with something more for its students, but the fact is that local professional sports is a major part of life for many of the College’s students.

The College’s radio station, 91.3 FM WTSR, broadcasts Trenton Thunder baseball games, the Double- A team — an affiliate minor league team of the New York Yankees. So, the College is OK with broadcasting those games themselves, but puts in a cable system that blocks legal access to watching the major league team?

The only major sport not affected by this is the NFL, America’s most popular and lucrative sport, since basic cable channels such as NBC, CBS and FOX are all available — along with the NFL Network.

I’m happy the playoffs are starting soon in the NHL, since at least then I can watch the Rangers battle it out there — if they make it. However, I really wish the College could have made a deal with a television provider that didn’t screw so many people out of their favorite pastime.

Whether it is baseball, hockey, basketball or even Major League Soccer — which gets partially eliminated due the lack of Fox Sports 1 — people love these games for a plethora of reasons. A father taking his son to a ball game could start a lifelong love that he wants to keep going. Two brothers shooting baskets outside with aspirations of playing in the National Basketball Association won’t get to watch their favorite team play from a TV at the College. Imagine a father and his daughter taking shots on a frozen pond, fostering a dream to play for her country in the Olympics, only to have her attend a college where she can’t watch NHL games on TV.

We all have our own reasons to watch local sports, but with PhiloTV, we don’t have a way. I ask the College to please fix PhiloTV either by working with them to add more local sports channels or giving students the option to add the channels themselves via a new service or by some other means.