Update: Frostburg, Cumberland is in NHL Network ‘Cable Desert’

Hockey fans living in Allegany County are being skipped by the NHL Network on cable.

Comcast’s Xfinity and Atlantic Broadband cable are not carrying the NHL Network in Allegany County, putting fans paying for services like NHL CenterIce and GameCenterLive being robbed of games thanks to the league’s blackout policies.

After going through four Comcast customer service reps, I received a definitive answer from the cable technician who visited my apartment about NHL Network’s availability in Frostburg.

You can read my previous issues in this blog, but to quickly recap, Xfinity’s and NHL Network’s websites show that with certain packages in my ZIP code, I can add on to watch the NHL Network. After several attempts at trouble shooting and different answers from different reps, one worker sent out a technician.

Fortunately, the technician is a hockey fan and even has played hockey. He explained that for reasons he did not understand or know, the NHL Network is available in neighboring Grantsville, Md., in Garrett County, where Frostburg’s service area cannot get it. Part of this confusion is that the Frostburg ZIP, 21532, extends and gerrymanders its way into Garrett County—a place with the largest amount of state-owned park land in Maryland and few year-round residents.

The technician added that he rebuilt a customer’s cable this week and added the NHL Network to it, and the service area gets more channels than other more populated areas like his hometown in Somerset County, Pa., just north of Grantsville.

The only thing I can do is request the channel, but let’s look at some bad business here.

It’s likely some things weren’t going to be offered in Frostburg because Comcast doesn’t not own the cable territory for all of Allegany County. Cumberland—the county’s biggest city—and points east in the county are controlled by Atlantic Broadband.

That company typically carries the NHL Network, but a look at the channel line-up, updated Oct. 1, shows that NHL Network isn’t available for its subscribers here.

If you live in Washington County or Garrett County and have cable, you can watch NHL Network. If you live in between, in Allegany, you’re out of luck.

Which leads me to the blackout issue. NHL Network game broadcasts are blacked out on CenterIce and GameCenterLive. Consumers are taking an unfair hit here because they don’t have the option on Xfinity or Atlantic to subscribe to the channel, so why black out the games? Especially if you are paying full price on CenterIce and GCL.

Yes, there is a solution. Switch…to…satellite.

DirecTV does offer the NHL Network here in Frostburg in a package as low as $34.99 a month. Now, you don’t get the reliability of a connection nor is broadband Internet available through DirecTV here (and forget about doing DSL up here).

Getting an Internet plan only from Xfinity isn’t an easy task, especially with a speed suitable  for my data usage. The Internet-only plans are for very slow speeds and you can’t sign up for that online. The rest of the plans require a subscription to either cable TV or its VOIP phone service.

So, I’d be easily pay more than what I do now for a triple play bundle that is already discounted.

You wonder why so many people are cutting their TV, and this is why. It would be great if this process would be more consumer friendly to cut the cord after an experience like this.


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