Sportsmanship a problem as Google Fiber prepares its video lineup

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is fast learning something that's been hammered into other MVPDs for quite some time: The MVPD that holds the rights to broadcast the local sports teams holds a sometimes unbeatable ace in its hand.

Thus, while Google Fiber has an admittedly attractive triple play offer that includes a nice TV lineup and blazing Internet speeds for the residents of approved "fiberhoods" in Kansas City--Kansas and Missouri--it may be running into the center field wall when it comes to providing all the programming that those local markets want.

According to a story in Deadline Hollywood, Google execs have discussed "the importance of being able to provide customers with access to must-have live regional sports programming and the difficulty of obtaining this programming" with the FCC, which is the final arbiter of what can and can't be kept in an MVPD pocket.

Google thinks the feds should alter rules that cover how cable companies that also own cable channels make those channels available to competitors from the satellite and telco space--and now from the Google Fiber space. The rules are about to "sunset," the story said, unless the FCC moves to keep them alive. And that's an idea that has the support of Verizon (NYSE: VZ), among others.

The FiOS operator told the Commission that "at a minimum this protection should be retained with respect to must-have, non-replicable programming, such as regional sports networks (RSNs). The telco said cable operators "control roughly half" of RSNs.

Of course, the cablecos don't want to hear about any changes with the way things work--especially when it comes to local programming. Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), which is fending off the Google Fiber invasion in the Kansas City markets, is also big on acquiring the rights to RSNs--at sometimes astronomical costs--because it believes these will keep the market "competitive," the story continued.

"For example, a programmer may wish to keep a non-competitively significant local news channel exclusive in order to provide a unique local voice, and may forego creating the service altogether if prohibited from preserving the channel's uniqueness through exclusive distribution," Time Warner Cable reportedly told the FCC.

For more:
Deadline Hollywood has this story

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