The Portland Trail Blazers just signed a new deal with Comcast SportsNet Northwest. This has left many fans confused about how and where they can watch Blazers games. We've compiled a FAQ to help guide you through the new Blazers television landscape.
When do these changes take place?
Not this coming season! Everything is the same as last year, with games on CSN NW and KGW.
This new contract begins a year from now, the 2017-18 season, and runs through the 2020-21 season.
How can I watch Blazers games?
Television: Little has changed regarding the Blazers' television distribution, with one exception: Other than games on TNT and ABC, all regular season and first round playoff games will be carried by CSN NW. If your provider carries that channel, and you're in the Pacific NorthWest, you're set. This means that the Blazers have eliminated their partnership with KGW; the only games available via antenna would be games shown nationally on ABC.
If you're outside of Oregon and Washington nothing changes: You'll need NBA League Pass to see games on TV.
Online: Effective immediately, CSN NW is carried by Sony's PlayStation Vue service. If you are in Oregon or Washington, you can subscribe and watch all 82 Blazers games via Internet streaming. Packages which include CSN NW start at $34.99. Vue is available on some, but not all devices.
Accessible: PlayStations, Apple iPad and iPhone, Android devices, Amazon devices, Roku TV.
Not Accessible: Apple TV, Microsoft XBox One and 360, Microsoft Surface and Windows 10, or via Web Page.
Unknown: Chromecast will work with some devices, but possibly not all devices.
If you're outside of Oregon and Washington, PlayStation Vue does not offer Comcast SportsNet Northwest. You'll need to order NBA League Pass. Also, there are no streaming options for any KGW games this coming season.
Who CAN'T see Blazers games?
For the first time in team history, in 2017 no games will be broadcast on a local over the air network. This means that fans must pay, either via a cable/satellite package or a Vue subscription to see any games during the upcoming season. As noted above, any ABC-televised games would be an exception.
In areas that do not have access to CSN NW, fans can only rely on PlayStation Vue. If those fans have slow internet speeds, metered connections, or don't have Sony-approved products, they are out of luck.
Is there any hope to see CSN NW via satellite?
Joe Freeman noted that "the Blazers included terms in their new contract that incentivizes CSN to expand distribution." Specifics of that deal have not been released so it is unclear what form "expanded distribution" will take. There is a possibility that these incentives will break the impasse between Comcast and the satellite providers.
Is there any hope for free access to the Blazers?
Perhaps. Reports indicate that CSN must find a provider to stream at least 15 games by the 2017-2018 season. This is similar to the number KGW has been showing (16-20 games per year). Whether or not those games will be available for free is unclear.
I live in Seattle. What's changed up here?
For the upcoming season, everything is the same as before: CSN NW games are available locally on Comcast, Frontier FIOS and PlayStation Vue. KGW games are unavailable except on League Pass.
The following season, the differences vanish: Seattle is treated the same as Portland when it comes to Blazers access. There are no more KGW games.
What's the bottom line?
In 2017, the Portland Trail Blazers will have historically-restrictive access on television, as no games will be available for free. CSN NW will air every game not shown on national television. However, Playstation Vue's streaming option is an alternative - especially for those who don't wish to subscribe to a full cable package.
But there is a cost: those who have no access to CSN NW, high speed Internet, or Sony-approved devices will have no approved way to view any games.