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Comcast scores the NHL in HD

Kevin C. Tofel

You'd think I'd be happy about this since I'm near Philadelphia (aka: Comcast Country), but I'm not. I've watched Comcast go from a fledgling cable provider to become the largest cable company in the country. That doesn't even count the interests they have in several area sports teams.

Looks like those with the money keep making the money because Comcast has won the rights to broadcast NHL games in HDTV. The two-year deal cost Comcast $100 million and is pending an approval from the NHL Board of Governors. The deal is a slam-dunk for the league and should go through.

So what's my beef? I've got a couple, so sit back for a second and soak it in.

As a former Comcast customer, I was completely disappointed in their customer service. If you called in with a problem to three different company reps, you got four different answers. I also don't like to see these media providers get too big as it discourages competition and prevents the other players from providing value.

Let's face it: here in the Philadelphia area, Comcast has a virtual lock on the local sports broadcasts. Comcast won't play nice with other cable or satellite providers, so you can't get your local sports here unless you have Comcast cable. Even if you purchase a premium sports package from another provider, the local games are blacked out. Comcast has single-handedly turned me from a local sports fan to a remote sports fan. Practically every team I now follow is hundreds or thousands of miles from home. I couldn't watch the games otherwise.

The other issue I have is the pricing of Comcast services. It seems like every day there is a special offer for three or six months for cable. What's the regular price you ask? Good question and one that's difficult to answer. You can search for hours on the Comcast site and never get a completely accurate answer. Oh, and if you want cable internet, expect to pay $15 a month more without a cable TV package. It doesn't matter if your house is already wired by Comcast for cable; I'm sure there's a good reason you should be penalized with an additional $180 a year for the same internet access as your neighbor.

For everyone outside of the local Philadelphia area: I hope you enjoy watching your favorite NHL team in HDTV if the deal is finalized. Think of me as you watch the crisp and sharp season. I won't hold it against you.

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