Area Cable Systems Might Lose Phillies Games

Comcast SportsNet seeks higher subscriber charges, or it'll black out games.

The Inquirer reports that Comcast SportsNet is raising its subscriber charge — charged to local cable systems, which pass the fee on to subscribers — to pay for the 33 new Phillies games it will be carrying this year. Those games had previously been available on free over-the-air TV. Parent company Comcast has agreed to the charges, but other area operators may balk.

The sports network has warned that it would black out 33 Phillies games on the TV systems that decline to pay.

Verizon Communications Inc.’s FiOS TV service “has not yet reached an agreement regarding the surcharge,” company spokesman Lee Giercynski said Tuesday.

A 24-page report on the sports programming costs from J.P. Morgan released on Tuesday listed Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia as the nation’s sixth-most-expensive regional sports network, costing cable companies $3.90 a month per subscriber, a cost then passed on to customers. That cost is significantly more than most general-interest national cable channels.

The downside? You’re paying more to watch the Phillies. The upside? Well, they’re not supposed to be that good this year, so there may not be much upside.