, Salem, MA

Local News

October 5, 2007

Cable-only playoffs leave some Sox fans out at home

If you weren't at Fenway Park and didn't have the "standard" cable television package or satellite, chances are you had to make other arrangements to watch the Red Sox game on Wednesday.

It's all part of being a Red Sox fan these days.

Once again this year, none of the American League Division Series games are being aired on basic cable - the lowest cable option for Comcast customers - leaving the Fenway faithful to head to the bar or a friend's home to watch the Red Sox's first foray into the playoffs this year.

"I used to have cable, but they charge ridiculous amounts and I got rid of it," said Ron Simpson, 45, of Beverly, while seated at the Sports Connection bar following the Red Sox 4-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Wednesday night. "If you don't have cable, you can't watch the playoff games - that's silly."

Simpson lives near the Park Street bar where he watches the games when he has the time - and money.

This year, Turner Broadcasting System, better known as TBS, will be airing the remaining four division series games and the National League Championship Series. The American League Championship series and the World Series will be on Fox 25.

Basic cable is the most affordable option for cable subscribers, with average monthly costs at about $10. The entry-level package provides about 25 channels, while the standard cable option allows for more than 75, including TBS and NESN, the New England Sports Network, which shows nearly all the Red Sox's regular-season games. The cost of standard cable is more than $50.

Marc Goodman, spokesman for Comcast, said the decision to air the division games on TBS was made by Major League Baseball.

"We realize it affects some people, but the games are available in a number of different ways," said Major League Baseball spokesman Mike Teevan. "The lines between network and cable television are almost indiscernible."

Teevan said division games have been on cable television since the 1990s.

The division series games now join the remaining regular season games being shown exclusively on cable.

WSBK (Channel 38) aired Friday night Red Sox games up until the 2005 season.

Sports Connection bouncer Leland Felings, 35, of Lynn said he can't afford any cable as he works to support himself, his child and a home.

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