The Wizards, FiOS and CSN+


(Chris Young / AP Photo/The Canadian Press)

Because a whole bunch of people have asked what was up with the Wizards-Raptors  game on Verizon FiOS on Thursday night, here’s a brief explanation, as best as I can explain it.

As often happens when the Wizards and Capitals play on the same night, one of the broadcasts needed to move to Comcast SportsNet Plus, the network’s overflow channel. (Typically, both teams will have something like 10 or 12 games per season on the overflow station.)

Well in advance of the game, FiOS had planned to switch the channel on which CSN Plus is seen. The engineering switch was scheduled to take place Thursday morning. Unfortunately, that never happened.

Here’s where it gets confusing, though. The channel and programming listings agency had already received word of the switch, and so the channel and game information were updated as if the switch had occurred. Thus, while the game apparently appeared on the same channel that had previously carried CSN Plus, the guide and listings did not recognize that channel, instead directing viewers to another channel that had no programming.

Comcast SportsNet had word that this was happening, so the channel finder on its Web site gave out the correct information. And if you manually typed the old channel number into your remote — as many fans figured out — you could still watch the game.

Still, I had reports that normal DVR functions — recording, rewinding and so on — would not work during the broadcast; they are apparently linked to the channel guide, which didn’t understand what was going on.

This happened for FiOS customers in the Baltimore and Washington television markets; in other markets, like Norfolk and Richmond, the switch was executed successfully and the game appeared on the new channel.

Happily, the switch was successfully executed for everyone else on Friday morning, so there’s no reason to think this will be a problem going forward.

And there was no particular reason that FiOS switched CSN Plus’s home; that’s not necessarily an irregular occurrence for overflow channels, and many people never even bother memorizing the number of overflow channels, instead just trusting their guide. Which, in this case, was a path toward frustration.

I have gotten several conflicting descriptions from angry FiOS subscribers, so if this isn’t exactly how you experienced the night, let me know in the comments I guess. And yeah, a dramatic triple-overtime win that pushed the Wizards two games over .500 for the first time in forever was probably a less than ideal moment for such a mix-up to occur.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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