Leslie Turk

LUS sacks Cox with Saints vs. Cowboys game

by Leslie Turk

If you’re paying $39.95 a month for LUS’ 83-channel expanded basic cable service, breathe a sigh of relief. You’ll watch the undefeated Saints take on the Dallas Cowboys (8-5) on Channel 38 Saturday night at 7:20 p.m. But if you’re one of Cox Communications’ approximately 100,000 Acadiana customers who subscribes to expanded basic, 72 channels for $52.99 per month, it’s going to cost you more.

The game will air on NFL Network, which is Cox Channel 241 and Channel 771 in HD, but Cox customers must have the digital Sports & Information tier in order to access even the standard definition channel 241.

DISH Network has it on Channel 154 and DirecTV on Channel 212, but you also have to pay for the pricier packages.

LUS Director Terry Huval says the NFL Network requested that it be offered on the lower tier. “When we were getting the programming contracts negotiated, a lot of those programmers were very specific as to where they wanted their programming to be, and that particular programmer wanted it to be in that expanded basic tier so we included it there. And it’s worked out well. We’ve got that channel and several other sports channels. ESPN-U is another one. We have not chosen to try to put any of our programming in places where people have to pay more to get it to the extent that we can accommodate the programmer.”

Cox spokeswoman Ann Ruble says the company offers the NFL Network only on the Sports & Information tier throughout all of its markets; she was unaware if NFL Network made the same request of Cox in its negotiations.

So here are your options if you want to see the game on Cox (keep in mind there are cost breaks for a combo of services): Non-customers have to buy the expanded basic package plus digital service and the Sports & Information tier for $70.23, which includes the box rental. Existing basic customers who pay $15.55 need to add expanded basic and digital service plus the Sports & Information tier for an additional $54.68, and expanded basic customers who now pay $52.99 must add digital service plus the Sports & Information tier for another $17.24. It’s an extra $3 for existing digital customers to add the Sports & Information tier.

You may be able to blame Cox for putting the station on the higher tier, but the NFL is also culpable because of its own primary market policy, which Cox sought an exception to. “We tried to get the channel for free for Lafayette, but we could not get approval,” says Cox's Ruble. “It was their decision.” However, a little fuel was added to the fire for Acadiana customers this morning when Cox announced that an exception has been negotiated for Baton Rouge. The game will be televised on Cox Channel 20 as part of a free preview of NFL Network for all Cox video subscribers in the Baton Rouge market. That means basic customers in Baton Rouge will get to see the game at no additional cost.

In this case it’s ridiculous that the NFL won’t make an exception to its policy that games on the NFL Network can only be broadcast by cable or satellite, or one over the air station, in the primary market area of the teams playing. With all the displaced New Orleans folks now living in the Acadiana area, can’t we get a break? Read The Advocate editorial calling for an exception to the policy.

That means customers in Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard, and St. Charles, which are in the New Orleans DMA, will be able to watch the game on WGNO (ABC), Cox basic channel 11 and WGNO HD, Cox channel 711. Cox customers in St. James Parish, also in the New Orleans DMA, will see WGNO (ABC) on Cox basic channel 5 and WGNO HD on Cox channel 705.

Cox is urging local customers to tune their TVs to channel 241, 319 or 771 to see if they currently have the service before calling in — you can only imagine the deluge of calls the company must be receiving!