Friday, April 6, 2007

An Open Letter to the Senators Organization

To whom it may concern,

I am writing in response to the April 3, 2007 radio interview conducted by the team1200 radio station, with Senators V.P. of broadcasting Jim Steel, in regards to the April 2, 2007 Pay Per View telecast of a game between the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils. Specifically, this letter is in response to the stated decision to increase the number of PPV games next season based on favourable income, viewership and viewer response following the 5 PPV telecasts this season.

As a diehard Sens fan like thousands upon thousands of others in this city, I will support my team in any way possible by buying overpriced jerseys, sweaters, t-shirts, hats, posters, blankets, toothbrushes and just about anything that bears a Senators emblem. I attend every game possible, watch every game possible, listen to local sports radio at every possible opportunity, and discuss the Senators online and with friends whenever I catch an idle moment. I do everything possible to support my team, not just in spirit and in action but in a costly monetary manner as well. I do this voluntarily and gladly. But at a certain point it gets to be too much. During the interview, Mr. Steel discussed the likely possibility of increasing the PPV game count to over 10% of the regular season next year. On top of taxes (CBC), cable/satellite fees (A-Channel, Sportsnet East, TSN and RDS), and even a couple hundred dollars for Centre Ice that we Sens fans gladly and eagerly dole out for the opportunity to support and cheer on our team, it still isn't enough. The Senators organisation has seen the opportunity for a quick cash influx at the expense of current and future fan support.

Please, do not mistake my position. I can understand and accept getting 5 games or so for PREMIUM, HIGH-QUALITY, INFORMATIVE, INSIGHTFUL and ENTERTAINING telecasts. I can see the justification in making a Detroit or Pittsburgh game PPV. I am not complaining about the concept of PPV in general or even that this organisation has decided to follow in the footsteps of the Western Canadian teams in implementing it. My problem is that it's always MORE MORE MORE. For LESS LESS LESS. Your PPV quality leaves much to be desired, the whole telecast seems disorganised and the "technical difficulties" that befell your games would embarrass a public access channel. Viewers who fell within "Sens Region" but not the "Ottawa Area" were without access to these PPVs games even if they were willing to pay, and even if they had Centre Ice. The failure to broadcast this year's PPV games in High Definition was a significant mistake on the part of the Senators broadcasting department, after all how can they expect fans to invest in their product if they aren't willing to invest in it themselves with the purchase/rental/co-ownership of an HD truck? Some of the games chosen for PPV broadcasting this season were bad enough (NYR? NJ? even with allowance for the unpredictability of a season when making the schedule, the closest thing you can get to a guarantee in the NHL is that a NJ game will be a snoozefest), but with the quality issues and complete ignorance of how much this has irked your fanbase, Mr. Steel and the broadcasting department declare this experiment a success and pledge to jump in even further next year.

Well as a dedicated, diehard Sens fan, I say no thanks. I refuse to pay extra for something that should be included in the hundreds of dollars/year I already spend to follow this team on television. I refuse pay extra for something that is done better for cheaper (not just cheaper for fans; Mr. Steel claims the PPV is more expensive to produce). Stop trying to gouge the ones who make your business viable. The Senators organisation is fearful of icing a losing team, lest our "fickle" fan base give up on this club and our attendance plummet to Long Island-depths. Give the fans a little credit: we'll be here whether the team is 82-0 or 0-82. There is little use in trying to pickpocket us while we'll still around, because we're not going anywhere. Long-term stability and loyalty outweigh get-rich-quick schemes everytime in garnering fan support. Just look at the Ottawa Senators for proof.

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