Unraveling the DirecTV Mess

For once, it’s a timely Roger Brown sports media column in today’s Plain Dealer, with what looks to be a pretty accurate representation of the mess Indians fans with DirecTV encountered over the weekend…well, at least from the STO side of things, anyway.

STO boss Jim Liberatore confirms what we’d been told yesterday by a team ticket sales rep… that the team has gotten “hundreds” of calls from irate DirecTV subscribers blacked out of one or both contests with the Minnesota Twins. DirecTV has also gotten “over 2,000 calls”, only about a quarter of them by our Indians-fan relative. (Heh.)

Liberatore tells Brown that DirecTV is apparently having “significant activation issues” in adding STO to the accounts of everyone which should receive it. We surmise, beyond this, that it’s due to the unique method of only allowing certain ZIP codes in the Cleveland Indians’ TV footprint that is causing the technical snafus. From what we understand, this “zone” thing within a full team footprint is a new thing at DirecTV, starting with the SportsTime Ohio addition. (Don’t you just love being a guinea pig?)

But…Brown wasn’t able to get a Sunday comment from DirecTV itself. We’d love to have heard how they explain the mess which happened over the weekend, and some of the other issues that both DirecTV and STO have been gently stepping around, like why the Indians “TV footprint” has shrunken to greater Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Columbus on the satellite service.

As someone else put it, if they’d just have turned on STO for everyone who already has FSN Ohio, the problem likely would not have happened. And frankly, in our opinion, they should do that TODAY, and sort out the “who should/who shouldn’t” problem later – only when they’re confident they can do it without shutting off thousands of Indians fans within 40 miles of Jacobs Field. But doing so, of course, could upset those who are outside the “primary” Cleveland market who would be getting games shut off at some point.

For his part, Liberatore says it’s “DirecTV’s problem, but that makes it our problem, too”, and says STO is doing its “best” to straighten things out. We hope so…as we’re getting tired of playing troubleshooter for a certain relative’s DirecTV installation.

The good news? OMW is setting up direct contact with STO and Mr. Liberatore, and hopefully soon, we’ll not have to rely upon Roger Brown’s leftovers. We’re also attempting to get answers from DirecTV. You know, REAL answers…

Brown also points out early low ratings for the Tribe on STO – pointing out the team’s daytime games and the teething pains of the new Indians network. (UPDATE: After a conversation with STO’s Jim Liberatore later in the afternoon, it appears a technical problem with ratings measurement may have been responsible for what appeared to be low numbers early on.)

He also repeats something we heard on FSN Ohio/WKNR’s “Cleveland Rants” show…that not only did Les Levine and Neil Bender actually DEBUT the show a week ago Sunday night at 2 AM despite the late hour…but that they also had full phone lines at that hour…

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