Posts for comcast

Discord and Unrest: Current and Former Employees Describe Life at NBC Sports Philly

Kevin Kinkead - July 18, 2018

Both Kevin Kinkead and Kyle Scott worked on this post.

We got a ton of feedback on a story published last week, titled “Some Thoughts on Whatever the Hell NBC Sports Philly is Doing.”

Beyond the reader replies, we were contacted by a number of current and former NBCSP employees, all of whom felt like the station was headed in the wrong direction due to a number of unpopular talent cuts and a wonky revamp of both the television and digital product.

We talked to a half-dozen people – a combination of off- and on-camera folks representing a variety of departments – who were interested in speaking anonymously about the issues. Leadership, money, and a lack of direction were the three topics that came up most frequently in discussion.

Before we get to that, it’s worth considering the important crossroads at which NBC Sports Philly, and all sports networks, regional and national, find themselves at the moment.

Once an indispensable part of sports fandom, cable sports networks have become less relevant in recent years. Gone are the days of fans needing to tune in for highlight shows or roundtable discussions to get brought up to speed on the news and topics of the day. New and social media, along with the continued success of sports talk radio, has rendered almost anything a sports network can show you during traditional news-block hours useless, at worst, or redundant, at best.

For the Philly sports fan, SportsNite with Neil Hartman and Leslie Gudel, or SportsRise with Ron Burke used to be appointment viewing. What’s more, it was novel in the both the breadth and depth of local coverage it provided, beginning in 1997.

The height of the cable news boom, the late 90s were shaped largely by the new and varied niches cable networks could cover, from Music TV to Court TV to sports. Not only did a network like CSN air the games, but they offered nearly around-the-clock coverage of the teams. Until then, local fans were served during off-hours by only the newspaper, sports talk radio, and a few minutes of nightly news broadcasts.

Michael Barkann, Hartman, Gudel, Burke, Dei Lynam and Derrick Gunn became mini rockstars to local sports fans. CSN was essential in a sports-dominated market.

That landscape has completely changed.

The value added by highlight, roundtable, and, to a lesser extent, debate shows is gone. The web fills that vacuum admirably while providing a platform for the average fan to engage and create. You’re now literally part of the sports conversation, whereas before you were only in branding– the voice of the fan. Suddenly, the back-and-forth of static studio shows feels boring and contrived compared to lively Twitter debates, in-depth podcast discussions, and the comment sections of social media posts. We don’t need to hear what Joel Embiid said after the game, because we can watch him celebrate or lament live on Instagram. Highlight shows serve only to reinforce the importance of clips we saw online four hours earlier, or sometimes eight hours earlier. Sites like this one (and many others) provide the continuous updates without readers having to wait for a scheduled broadcast window. Even self-important branding plays, like a “CSN Insider,” which is actually just a beat reporter who, often, is no more inside than 6-8 of their peers, or “Authentic Fan,” feel outdated and disingenous.

So, we’ll argue that NBC Sports Philly, and many other regional sports networks, are right to do away with their stale fare. From a content standpoint, that stuff is no longer interesting. From a financial standpoint, it loses money.

The decisions to do so, including the choice to let go of longtime veteran on-air folks who excel at reading a teleprompter, are not popular, but they are necessary. You can’t teach someone who is used to a camera setup, a script, multiple takes, and a tightly defined framework to just pick up their phone and be creative. [A counter to this would be someone like John Clark, who has excelled on social media and uses his access to inform fans everywhere, and not surprisingly he has been elevated in the NBC Sports-Comcast family of networks.]

More relevant to this piece, though, is what NBC Sports Philly has done in the wake of unpopular decisions and cost-cutting. Some of those decisions can be excused as NBC-led initiatives over which the local shop had little control, while others can be critiqued from a local level. Both deserve attention.

So it’s with that framework and understanding of the business dynamics that we take you inside with current and former NBC Sports Philly staffers as they identify pain points within the once-hallowed halls of the Comcast SportsNet studios. Continue Reading

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Billy Penn is Not at the Top of the New Comcast Tower

Chris Jastrzembski - December 6, 2017

Even though construction manager LF Driscoll put a miniature Billy Penn statue on top of the new Comcast Technology Center, it won’t be the building’s tallest point.

And if you’re a conspiracy theorist, maybe that’s why the Eagles lost on Sunday night.

An explanation after the jump: Continue Reading

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The Philadelphia (Wings) Are Back in Business with a “Top Shelf, Blue Chip” Owner

Kevin Kinkead - September 14, 2017

That didn’t last long.

Three years after packing up and moving to Connecticut, a brand new version of the Philadelphia (Wings) will start playing lacrosse at the Wells Fargo Center next season.

I put “Wings” in parentheses because that’s not the team name, at least not yet. A fan vote will determine the new franchise moniker, with “Wings” currently beating out “Ligers” by a 2 to 1 margin, based on what I saw inside the voting booth after Thursday’s presser.

National Lacrosse League Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz was joined by Comcast Spectacor President and CEO Dave Scott for the official announcement. Comcast, who will own the team, reportedly put five million dollars into the expansion franchise.

“We just needed to find the right owner,” Sakiewicz said. “It’s all about the owner. We couldn’t have found a better one in Comcast Spectacor. They run an amazing operation. They’re a top shelf, blue chip owner, whatever you want to call it. They’re the best at what they do. It was a lot of work getting them on board, but they looked at it very closely and diligently and made the right decisions.”

Scott says talks regarding expansion Philadelphia began about a year ago, not long after Sakiewicz took the NLL commissioner gig after leaving his post as Philadelphia Union CEO. Continue Reading

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This Sign Wins The Comcast Trump Protest, and It’s Not Even Close

Kyle Scott - February 2, 2017

Shit’s about to get real now. It’s all well and good when a bunch of college students and soccer moms take to the streets, but when the employees of the planet’s largest media conglomerate all decide to walk out and presumably further lengthen hold times… well, that’s not going to fly. I can only assume that Brian Roberts is one of the 10-12 people on Earth – along with the Koch brothers, Warren Buffet and Steve Harvey – who has the power to make precisely one phone call to remove a world leader from power. Hello, yes, Bahrain? The king is blocking our efforts to pipe in broadband to huts along the Arabian. You know what to do. He might have a tougher time in Soviet America, but enough days of this and the secret cabals are going to start meeting. After all, Roberts has a new building to pay for.

There’s Another Streaming Option That Will Carry CSN Philly

Kyle Scott - December 16, 2016

You now have another option besides PlayStation Vue to cut the cord and stream local sporting events.

From Jonathan Tannenwald:

The paid streaming service fuboTV announced Thursday that it had signed a deal with NBCUniversal to add all the network’s national and local channels to its online offering. The deal includes Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia and the Comcast Network.

This gives local sports fans an option besides Comcast’s, Verizon FiOS’, and RCN’s cable packages for watching games that CSN and TCN televise. In addition to the Phillies, Flyers, and 76ers, CSN and TCN broadcast Union soccer games and a wide range of local college football and basketball.

A monthly subscription to fuboTV will cost $34.99 during an introductory period. That’s the same price as the lowest-price PlayStation Vue tier that offers CSN and TCN.

After the introductory period, the length of which has not been officially set, fuboTV’s monthly rate will rise to $49.99.

PlayStation Vue’s cheapest offering is $29.99 per month, and most expensive $54.99 per month. Rivals SlingTV and DirecTV Now do not offer CSN and TCN.

Both Sling TV and DirectTV Now look promising but are essentially non-starters because they don’t include CSN Philly (yet).

Fobu TV is intriguing as it started out as a soccer streaming service – hence the name – but is now dipping its toe into major American sports. In addition to CSN, it will also carry all of the FOX sports networks, the Big Ten Network, local FOX and NBC stations, and the FOX (Fox News, FX, etc.) and NBC (CNBC, MSNBC) cable channels. It will also offer cloud DVR.

Is it a viable option? I think so. But what we’re seeing – and what I’ve predicted all along – is that narrow services are growing and incorporating more channels and are looking a lot like your current cable bundle, at a slightly lower price point and with a streaming focus. My chief issue with Vue was that it only streams in 720, which I’m guessing is the case for Fobu as well. So that’s a consideration if you want to cut the cord– you have to be willing to put up with quality issues and some of the quirks of streaming technology, which will obviously improve.

Compared to PlayStation Vue, Fobu is lacking a bit. Vue carries all of the local broadcast networks, which removes the need for a tuner if you want to watch CBS or ABC. Fobu also doesn’t offer Red Zone (as of now). Or ESPN. And it’s not really any cheaper once the introductory offer runs out.

But, you will now have another option if you want to cut the cord and still watch local sports.

This Video From The Top of the New Comcast Tower Makes Me Want To Vomit

Kyle Scott - December 2, 2016

Gahhhhhhhhhhh. Why must you be so high? I installed a couple Phillips Hue light bulbs in the vaulted ceiling portion of our kitchen this week and had trouble looking down. It was maybe 10 feet high. So consider me firmly on board with awarding these brave men and women a medal of some sort for doing whatever it is they do up there. If you need me, I’ll be here, on the first floor, cowering in the corner and sopping up the sweat from my hands with a soft towel.

video from Urban Video Productions

Sling TV Will Begin Offering a Package That Includes CSN, Well, Unless You’re in Philly

Kyle Scott - June 30, 2016

Hello and welcome back to the world in which Comcast inexplicably hates you.

Reader (@rybo213) alerted me to news today about a new package from Sling TV, which, unlike PlayStation’s decent Vue service, did not previously carry CSN, the regional sports network whose exclusion from streaming options has prevented a lot of would-be cord cutters from, you know, cutting the cord. Well, GOOD NEWS, NBC products have joined Sling’s new Blue Package, and that includes NBC 10, NBC Sports Network, CNBC and CSN. Oh I’m sorry– I misstated that. CSN will be available on Sling TV in most major markets where Comcast operates regional sports networks… except Philly:

Sling Blue

Sling Blue (multi-stream) is available to new customers for $25 per month and includes local NBC (for select markets), USA, Bravo, NBCSN and Syfy.

Sling Blue customers will have access to live, local NBC broadcast stations in the following 10 markets: Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Hartford, Conn., Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego and Washington D.C. Access to on-demand programming will be available in a later update.

Regional Sports Networks for select markets (Comcast SportsNet: California, Bay Area, Chicago and Mid-Atlantic) coming soon.

Sling TV expects to add local content from NBC affiliates in the future on a market-by-market basis.

An NBC Universal rep confirmed that CSN Philly will not be available on Sling TV.

That is… maddening.

Sling, of course, is downed by Dish Network, which has had its own unique issues with CSN Philly. WIKIPEDIA MEH !!

On January 20, 2010, the FCC Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to close the “terrestrial exception” loophole.[30] Lawyers for DirecTV and Dish Network had attempted to show that Comcast, the dominant cable provider in the Philadelphia market, acted in restraint of trade by not uplinking Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia to satellite. Comcast did not appeal the decision, allowing DirecTV and Dish to immediately enter into carriage negotiations to add the network. Both providers formally asked permission from Comcast to carry CSN Philadelphia on June 25, 2010.[31] One month later on July 28, it was reported that Comcast had entered into discussions with DirecTV and Dish Network for carriage of CSN Philadelphia.[32] Two days later, after accusing Comcast of refusing to negotiate in good faith, Dish Network stated it would file a complaint with the FCC.[33][34] The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the FCC’s original ruling on June 10, 2011.[35] Despite this ruling, Comcast has yet to offer CSN Philadelphia on competing satellite providers.

The only current method of receiving CSN Philadelphia within the United States (as of April 2014) is via C-band satellite using a Cisco PowerVu receiver with authorization aimed toward the Galaxy 17 satellite at 91.0°W (transponder 11 at 3920 H).[36]

Gah. Mesahthinks that has something to do with CSN Philly’s exclusion from Sling TV. CSN is available through Dish in other cities, including the Bay Area and Chicago.

It looks like PlayStation Vue will remain the sole streaming service that carries CSN Philly. As I’ve written, it’s a reasonable alternative, but the fact that it doesn’t currently broadcast in 1080 – only in 720 – was a non-starter for me.

At this point, streaming packages are beginning to resemble the cable bundles that most people hate. They are a bit more lean and cost-effective, but not by much. So the benefits are often negligible. Still, the fact that CSN Philly remains so damn difficult to stream, even with cable credentials, is annoying. Comcast claims to be on the cutting edge of everything – such innovators, they are – and yet your options for streaming sports in its home market – WHERE IT OWNS ONE OF THE TEAMS – continue to be extremely limited.

A follow up question to the NBC rep inquiring whether they had any plans to bring CSN Philly to Sling TV in the future was not immediately responded to.

The Covert War on the Comcast Center Continues

Kyle Scott - April 24, 2015

Voila_Capture 2015-04-24_12-56-10_PM
Voila_Capture 2015-04-24_03-30-34_PM

This is my favorite thing in Philly right now (which says a lot about our local sports teams)– 6 ABC’s covert war on the Comcast Center.

As you might recall, last year we showed you the differing treatments given to the mega overlord’s home by NBC 10 and 6 ABC. The tower, in NBC’s rendering, appeared as a shining beacon of light, keeping watch over the dark, dingy city of Philadelphia:

Voila_Capture 2014-12-16_09-41-00_AM

In 6 ABC’s rendering, it appears as though someone at Comcast-NBC forgot to pay the utility bill (irony):

Voila_Capture 2014-12-16_09-41-36_AM

Now we see David Murphy’s chilly(!) weather forecast and note that, yep, the Comcast Center is missing. Here’s where it would be:

Voila_Capture 2015-04-24_03-33-55_PM

It’s been a rough week for the Empire. On Tuesday, we learned that their building was curiously absent from the skyline portrayed on Eagles draft hats. Yesterday, news broke that Comcast’s merger with Time Warner was just about to be called off (official today). And now this– Comcast can’t even get its giant tower included in a cheap rendering of a completely empty ballpark.

Other things wrong with the image:

1) There are too many people.

2) I don’t know what the fans in left field are on, or what the giants inhabiting the power alley did with them, but quite frankly, I’m frightened… and also wondering whether any of those guys can bat cleanup.

H/T to (@Derek_A_Smith) and (@johnnyrockets27

Skyline image credit: Remi4979,