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Dish Network Subscribers, Beware: You Could Lose Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs And White Sox Telecasts

Many of you likely followed from afar as Cablevision and Fox's brouhaha over carriage of Fox's channels prevented viewers in Philadelphia and New York from watching a couple of World Series games and some NFL games. (That dispute would likely have been settled earlier if the Yankees and/or Phillies had made the World Series.)

Now, Dish Network is having the same kind of disagreement over carrying Comcast Sports Net California (also sometimes known as CSN Bay Area), which carries games of the San Jose Sharks, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics. According to the Tribune's Phil Rosenthal, Dish Network subscribers haven't had access to Sharks, Warriors and Kings games since Nov. 24.

Why is this important to us in Chicago? Because Dish Network also has an agreement with CSN Chicago, which carries the Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs and White Sox. About 10 percent of the Chicago market -- 360,000 homes -- subscribes to Dish, according to Rosenthal.

The Rosenthal article goes on to say:

The reason this matters to Chicagoans is Dish has sought similar arbitration proceedings for three of Comcast's other regional sports networks that have been operating without new contracts for many months, including CSN Chicago, which sources say is expected to have its arbitration hearing sometime next month.

A similar ruling by the same arbitrator to the same arguments -- and the same response by Dish -- could spell disaster sports fans relying on Dish for access to CSN Chicago's lineup of games and other programming. Or, at the very least, a surge in business for Dish rivals such as DirecTV.

It seems the latter would be the result. If Dish subscribers are deprived of what they most want to see -- and it would seem that sports is a big driver of satellite subscriptions -- they'd probably just switch. This wasn't really much of an option in New York, where Cablevision dominates the local landscape. There are several alternatives in Chicago, as noted.

As the saying goes, "stay tuned."