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Letter of the Day: Digicel SportsMax biting off more than it can chew

Published:Tuesday | April 21, 2015 | 12:00 AM


Can someone tell me what's happening with the local broadcast of NBA matches? After following the NBA for close to 20 years and eagerly anticipating the 2015 play-offs, I find I have been blocked from watching the games. WHY, you ask? Well, it's not because I haven't paid my very expensive cable bill. It's actually because of one entity's decision to acquire the exclusive broadcast rights for the NBA in Jamaica.

Congratulations to Digicel SportsMax on a very strategic move. But did someone have to tell you that now that you have the rights to show the games, you actually NEED TO SHOW THEM, and show them LIVE? Since no one did, I'm using this medium to bring to your attention that this is the year 2015, a time when audiences have become so spoilt as to wanting to watch events as they unfold. Having been able to watch the play-offs live since the late 1990s, it's going to be a little difficult to get audiences to accept anything less in the 21st century.

Four play-off games were played on Sunday, April 19. If it were not for Digicel SportsMax and its pesky new rights, we would have been able to watch one on ESPN and the other three on TNT. Digicel SportsMax could only manage to carry one game! What's worse is the only notification to local NBA fans is a less-than-satisfactory advisory from Flow on the affected channels informing subscribers that the entity is no longer allowed to show the games. In fact, an entire channel, NBA TV, for which we pay dearly, has been blocked.


This is the latest in a series of moves by local media to gobble up broadcast rights without apparently thinking through how they will deliver, and frustrating local audiences in the process. Local fans of NBC's 'The Voice' and USA's Suits know exactly what I'm talking about. Did Digicel SportsMax not learn anything from the firestorm in which TVJ and CVM found themselves not too long ago?

The bigger question is, why are we being held at ransom by these media entities that clamour for broadcast rights but can't deliver to satisfy audiences? And why are we paying so much for cable when we can't get to watch what we want, when we want?

As media seek to snag niche audiences and pull off coups on the competition, who will protect the audiences trapped in the middle? Who will step in and do something about what is fast becoming an extraordinary problem?