There are winners and losers in the National League Championship Series and those titles go beyond the teams involved thanks to an ongoing contract dispute between Cable ONE and Turner Networks.
The blackout of TBS, the network carrying the NLCS between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers, is into its third week, leaving more than 700,000 Cable ONE subscribers across the nation, including many in Kirksville and surrounding northeast Missouri, unable to watch their beloved Cardinals baseball team from the comfort of home.
While it's an inconvenience for them, it's been a poison pill for some local businesses to swallow as customers seek out a place to sit down, watch a game and spend some money over the course of about three hours.
"It's cost us," said Ryan Taylor, kitchen manager at Colton's Steakhouse in Kirksville. Colton's gets its television service from Cable ONE. "We've actually talked about switching providers because of it."
Taylor said Colton's has seen a downturn in business in the hours before and during the NLCS games. Typically, he said there is a noticeable increase in business for major sporting events and when they involve a home team like the Cardinals, the turnout could be huge.
"Just me alone, and we have four people on our management staff, but just me alone I've had at least five phone calls asking if we would have the game on, and I've watched at least two or three groups of people walk out of the restaurant because the game wasn't on," Taylor said. "That's lost revenue."
That sentiment was echoed by Angie Huff, a bartender at the Full Moon.
"We've had people call and ask if it was going to be on and we have to tell them, 'No,'" she said.
For local businesses that subscribe to Dish or DirecTV, the contract dispute has been a win no matter the results on the field. Dan Vogt, owner of the Wooden Nickel Restaurant and Woody's bar, said it's been "awesome."
"The whole place filled up because they couldn't get the Cardinal games," he said. "We're very happy about it."
Live sporting events driving customers to bars isn't unexpected, but diners? Vicky Fowler, Diner 54 manager, said her business had not previously been a destination for sports fans. That's changed over the last few weeks.
"There are definitely people coming here to view the games," she said. "I had people calling the other night to ask if we had the game on."
The contract dispute began in early October - just before the Cardinals began play in the National League Divisional Series, also on TBS.
Cable ONE lost access to Turner Networks including CNN, Headline News, Turner Classic Movies, TruTV and Boomerang after a contract with Turner expired. Initially, Cable ONE reported it would continue to broadcast TBS, TNT and the Cartoon Network, but those channels were soon pulled by Turner as part of the dispute.
Page 2 of 2 - According to a recent statement issued by Cable ONE, "…Turner demanded a 50 percent rate increase for channels with steadily declining ratings."
Cable ONE declined to comment further on what exactly such an increase would mean for the average customer's bill.
Asked to respond, Turner Networks issued a statement saying it asks that Cable ONE "pay the established and accepted rates already in the marketplace for our networks."
Cable ONE had attempted restore service with a deal through the National Cable Television Cooperative, which negotiates programming deals on behalf of smaller distributors. Turner nixed that deal.
Cable ONE is the nation's 10th largest cable provider with more than 700,000 customers in 19 states.
St. Louis leads Los Angeles in the best-of-seven series, 2-0. Game 3 is Monday night.