Dish Reaches Out to Mets Fans

Seizing an opportunity to siphon New York Mets Major League Baseball fans from Time Warner Cable, EchoStar Communications Corp. Wednesday announced that it will offer its popular Dish Network “Americas Top 60” package, along with FSN New York and Madison Square Garden Network, at a discounted price.

Time Warner Cable, which serves some 2.4 million New York-area subscribers, currently does not offer the two regional sports networks as part of an ongoing carriage dispute with Cablevision Systems Corp., which owns both services.

Last month, Cablevision pulled from Time Warner both MSGN and FSNY, which, between them, telecast a combined 100 Mets games.

The EchoStar deal -- which runs through June 30 regardless of whether Time Warner and Cablevision reach an agreement -- will give new subscribers Dish’s popular package for $19.99 per month with an additional $5 surcharge for the two RSNs, a $12 savings off the regular price for the combined package, company executives said. Subscribers would have to commit to one year of Dish service.

Dish spokesman Steve Caulk would not reveal how many subscribers the service currently has in the New York area, nor would he project a subscriber-percentage gain due to the offer.

EchoStar joins DirecTV Inc. -- which carries all three RSNs and has been running anti-Time Warner ads in the New York market for weeks -- in trying to wrestle away the MSO’s disgruntled customers.

Time Warner executives could not be reached for comment at press time.

While Mets fans might find the deal appealing, it certainly won’t persuade Yankees fans to abandon Time Warner, since Dish does not carry Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network, which telecasts more than 130 of the Bronx Bombers’ games.

Caulk said the offer will appeal most to those who reject the high cost of cable and resent the extra fee for YES Network.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.