In a further sign of the tightening economy, Comcast and DirecTV are sparring over A's games on the new-and-improved Comcast SportsNet California, which as you remember, signed the A's two weeks ago. DirecTV already carries the channel, but it hasn't come to terms over the carriage of the A's 2009 season, which includes 145 regular season games (75 in HD).
Hardball negotiations aren't unfamiliar ground for the two parties. They've been duking it out over CSN Northwest for a while. Comcast is trying to bump up subscriber fees for both of its California properties, CSNCA and CSNBA. Only last week, DirecTV and Salt Lake City channel KJZZ finally came to a retransmission agreement 50 games into the Utah Jazz season.
Years ago, DirecTV was quick to sign agreements with the various RSN's as their strategy was to siphon sports-loving subscribers away from the big cable companies. These days, it appears that carriage is now considered on a case-by-case basis. They have reason to do so, as a rising subscriber fee for a channel gets passed along to the consumer, and we all know how much we like our pay TV rate hikes.
Will this get resolved prior to the start of the season? Hard to say. A bunch of issues are on the table, from blackout rules to the Sharks' potential move to CSNCA. The Earthquakes also don't have a TV schedule for their upcoming season, and it's been assumed for a while that the A's and Quakes are sort of a package deal.