Cablevision forces Islanders into a low-def world

Michael GasparinoCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2008

Was at my mom's house Saturday, and after dinner, I went to the TV to watch the Islanders play the Panthers in Florida.

Punched in 717 on the remote for MSG Plus HD, and there were the Devils. Backed up a spot to 716, MSG HD, and there were the Rangers. Where was this game? Not in HD, although I checked 701 just in case. Because I can never remember that C-SPAN2 is the carryover channel -- the cleverly named MSG Plus 2 -- I went to the iO channel guide to find that the game was on Channel 14, which is normally the channel guide channel.

We should be used to this by now. Neil Best wrote about the Islanders' second-class status here, addressing the opening-night fiasco where the Islanders opener didn't appear on CSPAN2 untio after the first period was OVER because of a "technical error." Yeah, sure.

It's certainly one of the most frustrating things about being an Islanders fan: the local cable monopoly, Cablevision, also owns the Rangers, the Isles' chief rival.

Cablevision claims it is all about ratings, but I want to see the numbers that say the Devils -- a team that still has trouble selling out a building that is the Taj Mahal of NHL arenas, a building with terrific public transportation access -- have better television ratings than the Islanders.

It's baloney. Cablevision has absolutely no incentive to help the Islanders out and will stick it to them every chance they can. Whenever the Devils and Islanders have a conflict, the Devils get the regular channel, and the HD channel, and the Isles end up on the overflow channel, and not in HD.

It's enough to make me want to switch to Verizon FiOS -- except FiOS does not carry the MSG channels in HD. Auugh! I know, having FiOS wouldn't allow me to see the Isles in HD, but at least I wouldn't be paying Cablevision for screwing the Islanders fans.

And don't hold your breath about the situation changing any time soon. The Isles' deal with Cablevision was extended to 2031, and the team gets roughly $20 million a year from it. So unless Cablevision dedicates an HD channel for the Isles, at least for when they conflict with the Devils and Rangers, Islanders fans who enjoy their hockey in HD will have to settle for watching the Isles in awful low-def, which is very tough to go back to.

Best also mentions the radio deal and Chris Dey's detailed explanation, but I have no beef with it because I happen to get WMJC pretty well where I live and could never hear Bloomberg Radio at night anyway.

It's my lot in life. Like many others, I'm a Mets-Jets-Islanders fan, a second-class citizen all the way. That's OK. It makes it that much sweeter when they win.


Oh, and about that Panthers game? At least Rick DiPietro played and did pretty well. Otherwise, the 2-0 shutout loss wasn't much to write about. Consider it the first of many such games we'll experience this year as the offense struggles to score and the team struggles to find its identity and get in the flow of Scott Gordon's system.