Leading Off

Dish customers could soon lose Kings games

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) walks down court during the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. The Kings won 113-101.
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) walks down court during the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. The Kings won 113-101. AP

Watching the Kings hasn’t been this much fun since maybe 2002. After Saturday’s victory over the Timberwolves, the Kings are 8-5 and in ninth place in the highly competitive Western Conference.

But sports fans who subscribe to Dish Network could lose Kings games beginning Dec. 1 if the satellite TV provider and Comcast NBCUniversal fail to solve their impasse.

Comcast Sports Net California and Comcast Sports Net Bay Area are among the NBC regional sports networks that have been warning viewers that Dish could drop the networks when their contracts expire .

During Saturday’s Kings broadcast, play-by-play man Grant Napear read a warning from Comcast Sports Net that included a number to call and a website dedicated to putting pressure on Dish Network. And the broadcast included repeated warnings that Dish subscribers could lose Kings game.

This isn’t unique for Dish, which has been sparring with Turner Broadcasting and CBS. After dropping CNN, Cartoon Network and other Turner channels in October, Dish reached a short-term distribution agreement with Turner on Friday that restored those channels to Dish’s 14 million customers and will keep TNT, which carries NBA games, and TBS on Dish at least until early spring.

Also Friday, CBS and Dish agreed to a short-term contract extension, temporarily averting a blackout of CBS-owned TV stations, including Sacramento’s KOVR, which aired Sunday’s 49ers game against Washington.

In August, Dish dropped Comcast Sports Net New England (Celtics, Bruins), and impasses in Chicago and the Washington-Baltimore area could lead to Dish subscribers losing Bulls, Blackhawks, Wizards and Capitals games.

Closer to home, CSNCA and CSNBA broadcast Kings, Giants, A’s, Sharks and Earthquakes games in the Sacramento market. CSNCA also plans to broadcast the CIF football state bowl games next month.

Comcast Sports Net reportedly is seeking terms similar to its deals with other providers, but Dish contends the regional sports network is demanding huge increases.

We understand why Comcast Sports Net is pushing sports fans to pressure Dish into making a deal; it wants its programming in as many homes as possible, and Dish reportedly is the third-largest pay-TV provider in the country.

But we think there is an easier solution if you’re a Dish customer: Check out offers from other providers and tell Dish representatives you’ll drop their network if they’re serious about dropping CSNCA and CSNBA.

Tom Couzens

tcouzens@sacbee.com


What to watch

NFL, Baltimore at New Orleans, 5:30 p.m., ESPN: The Saints haven’t lost three straight games at the Superdome since 2001.

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