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Dallas Stars Fans Should Count Themselves Lucky (Unless They Have Dish Network)

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Earlier this week we posted a video by Razor Reaugh encouraging Dish Network fans to drop the satellite provider in the midst of a nasty dispute between Fox and Dish Network. While we here at DBD take no sides in the matter (I just thought the video was fairly entertatining) it's becoming very obvious that Dish Network is certainly not the only big bad guy as many as making them out to be.

While Dish says that Fox is wrong, and Fox says that Dish is wrong, the reality is that sports fans and Dish subscribers are the ones who are really paying the price here.

Right now, for Dallas Stars fans, it's only the Dish Network subscribers who are really suffering. Currently, Dish subscribers cannot see any of the games broadcast on FSN channels, which this season amounts to almost all of them. What's frustrating is that because of the FSSW area coverage, Stars fans that are well outside the Dallas area are still unable to see the games on Center Ice due to local blackout restrictions. If you are not a Dish subscriber, and live in these remote areas, at least FSSW is available in some capacity.

It's frustrating, but Dallas Stars fans should count themselves lucky. At least they don't live in Nashville.

Here's an untold side of the story and how this 'battle' between the companies has really reached a new level.

The Dallas Stars have a contract with FSSW to broadcast the majority of the games locally. Those games that aren't broadcast on FSSW have been picked up by local television station KTXA 21 (in the past it has been My27). It turns out this ability of the Stars to still be broadcast locally while not on FSSW is not the same amount of coverage other teams in the NHL are privilege to.

The Nashville Predators have 60 games broadcast this season on Fox Sports Tennessee (FS-TN). If the game is not on FS-TN, then there is absolutely zero local broadcast in the Nashville area for Predators fans to watch. This is the same for other teams across the NHL, such as the Carolina Hurricans and L.A. Kings, but before this season fans at least had another option.

Fans of teams without local broadcasts had the option of subscribing to Center Ice to see the other team's feed of the game (such as the Dallas Stars feed for tonight's game). While normally a blackout restriction wouldn't allow fans to see local games on Center Ice, the NHL would allow teams to lift those restrictions if the game was not being carried by a local provider -- in this case FS-TN. Shelling out hundreds of dollars per season is a hefty price to pay to catch less than half the games on television, but at least that was an option for games not broadcast in the local area.

Stars fans in Dallas never had to worry about this, since (for the most part) the Stars have enjoyed full local coverage throughout each season. In the 1990's, most games were broadcast on Channel 27 with a handful of games carried on FSSW. Over the years those numbers have swapped and most games are now carried on FSSW, yet the rest are still picked up locally.

Yet for fans of teams like Nashville, even the option of catching the game on Center Ice has been taken away. Even if that fan is subscribed to a provider other than Dish Network. What hasn't been given any publicity is that fact that Fox has taken away the ability for the NHL to lift local blackout restrictions for areas that don't have a local broadcast.

From Paul McCann of Predators Radio Network:

Fox owns the decision to allow the NHL to lift local blackouts, the NHL in turn will contact the local team’s broadcast department to let them know about permission being given to lift a local blackout. The team then decides if they want to lift the blackout on things like Center Ice and Game Center Live.

That is fairly straight ahead, but here's where things go off the rails a bit...

Due to the Fox/DISH Network issues, Fox has rescinded the ability to lift blackouts for all NHL teams. It doesn’t matter who is carrying the game, the blackout restrictions stay in place for any game that is not being carried by the local Fox Sports Network affiliate network. There is no recourse at the local level, this is a Fox decision that the NHL and its’ teams need to comply with. I know that quite a few hockey fans are not happy with this and are being very vocal about it.

So while everyone wants to call out Dish Network as the bad guy, Fox has decided to make everyone pay. Predators fans who have DirecTV or Comcast and subscribe to Center Ice, won't be able to see the game tonight even though it's not broadcast anywhere in the Nashville area.

This is the same for fans of teams across the NHL. If the game isn't being broadcast on a FSN channel, Fox has decided to not allow the NHL to temporarily lift blackout restrictions for Center Ice regardless of subscriber. Now, this is all part of the contract the NHL has in place with Fox, but right now this is a decision made entirely by Fox to try and force their way into getting a deal done.

Once a deal has been made with Dish Network, then supposedly the NHL will be able to once again waive blackout restrictions.

Now, the entire story on this particular matter is still not exactly clear. This isn't a part of the issue that is getting much publicity, but one thing is very clear -- Dallas Stars should count themselves very lucky that every game this season is broadcast locally in some capacity.