Las Vegas cable confusion leaves Golden Knights’ fans in dark

Updated September 18, 2017 - 9:41 pm

On the ice, it was a great beginning for the Golden Knights as the NHL expansion team won its preseason opener Sunday.

But it was nothing but frustration and anger for fans in Las Vegas who tried to watch the 9-4 win over the Vancouver Canucks in the comfort of their living rooms.

The launch of AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain on DirecTV was supposed to be available to subscribers who had the Choice level of programming (185 channels or higher). But when those subscribers tried to tune in, they were shown a message that the signal required subscribing to DirecTV’s premium sports service.

DirecTV customers were eventually able to watch the game, but only after they rebooted their home system to get Channel 684’s signal.

AT&T, which owns DirecTV, released a statement late Monday, saying: “We understand that a small number of subscribers in the Las Vegas area initially had issues trying to view yesterday’s hockey game, but for the most part the issue was resolved with a set-top box reset.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Subscribers who have the Choice or higher DirecTV package should have access to the channel.”

But that was only the beginning of the fiasco.

CenturyLink subscribers in Southern Nevada who were supposed to get the channel on Prism TV did not have it.

According to a CenturyLink spokesman, the problem was a technical issues with AT&T SportsNet, not a rights issue. The companies had announced an agreement Sept. 9 to have AT&T SportsNet on Prism channels 760 and 1760.

“We expect it to be resolved soon from the content provider’s side,” CenturyLink’s Jason Chan said Monday.

Agitated fans vent

AT&T SportsNet’s next telecast is Sept. 26 when the Knights host the Los Angeles Kings in their home preseason opener at T-Mobile Arena.

Cox Communications, which has been involved in negotiations with AT&T to get the channel on its system, thought it found a loophole as the Knights-Canucks game was televised on the NHL Network, which is on Cox’s system on its premium sports tier.

But after making an announcement Sunday morning that the game would be on, Cox had to backtrack after the NHL decided to black out the telecast in Southern Nevada just prior to the opening face-off. In addition, the replay of the game Monday on NHL Network was also blacked out.

That left local Golden Knights fans agitated. Some blamed the carriers. Some blamed the NHL. Many blamed the team for cutting a deal with a network which most of Las Vegas can’t see since AT&T SportsNet is still not available on Cox.

Fans went on social media to complain and vent their frustration. Many blamed owner Bill Foley and his desire to make sure the state of Montana could watch the Golden Knights. The team has territorial rights to that state along with five others in addition to Nevada.

Among those who couldn’t watch the game was Foley, but he blames himself for missing his team’s first win.

“I think it’s my fault,” Foley said. “I didn’t reset the receiver the way I was supposed to.”

Foley said he is aware of the fans’ discontent over the TV issue and he preached patience.

“It’s going to come together,” he said. “I truly believe the fans of Las Vegas will get to watch their team play.”

According to the NHL, the game was blacked out on NHL Network in Southern Nevada because the game was being televised by the local rights holder, in this case, AT&T SportsNet, in the local market.

Cox was not aware of this policy and issued a statement saying: “We thought the telecast was available nationally and when we found out it was not we immediately notified about the blackout.”

Tuesday’s preseason game against the Colorado Avalanche is not being televised by AT&T SportsNet. The NHL said the Knights-Avalanche game will be shown in Las Vegas on NHL Network. However, it will be joined in progress following the completion of the Chicago-Columbus game.

Contact Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.

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