By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, what happened to the Root Sports channel on Comcast. It’s not there anymore! What is going on? — Steve, Seattle.
Steve, Root Sports, the TV home of the Seattle Mariners, Seattle Kraken, and Portland Trailblazers, is still available on Comcast in those teams’ markets. But you’re going to have to pay more to watch it. Shortly before the Kraken was scheduled to take the ice last night in its season opener, the cable operator sent an e-mail to subscribers saying the Root regional sports network has been moved from the digital basic package to the Ultimate programming package which is nearly $20 a month higher.
Comcast said the move is designed to reduce the cost of the base plan. Regional sports networks normally require higher carriage fees which TV providers pass along to subscribers in higher monthly bills. By removing Root from the basic plan, Comcast says it can now eliminate the regional sports fee for those subscribers. The sports fee ranges from $6 to $9 a month. Comcast, like other cable and satellite operators, has been losing subscribers due to cord cutting and it’s trying to provide cheaper plans to keep customers from defecting.
“We pay programmers in our to offer their content to our customers and the cost of sports programming continues to rise,” Comcast says in the e-mail. “Because Regional Sports Networks (RSN), like ROOT Sports, drive significant expense for our customers, we’ve removed this channel from your current TV package and will be reducing your RSN fee. Until this fee reduction goes into effect, you’ll soon see a credit in your monthly bill,” Comcast says in the e-mail.
Root Sports did not support the move and it issued statements expressing its disappointment. “We are disappointed that Xfinity has moved ROOT Sports to the Ultimate package. The timing is less than ideal as the Kraken and Trail Blazers are heading into the regular season, and we feel for the teams and their fans. We strive to make these live games accessible to as many people as possible and will continue to pursue opportunities that allow fans to watch their favorite teams. Fans can visit rootsports.com/provider-finder to see all available options in their area.”
Some fans also expressed their disappointment in social media posts. “What the hell Comcast?!? Removing Root Sports from my packages so I’ll “save money” but now I won’t be able to watch the @trailblazers this season unless I pay more. Right as the season is starting too. Xfinity is the worst,” one angry customer wrote last night on X.
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— Phillip Swann