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Red Sox fans go wild. (Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)

Sox fans make views clear: We want HD

Some Red Sox fans are fuming after discovering they can't watch the first round of the playoffs on television in high definition.

The problem affects subscribers to Verizon Communications Inc.'s FiOS TV, which is available in 470,000 homes in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and Charter Communications Inc., a cable provider that has more than 200,000 subscribers in Massachusetts.

Subscribers to Comcast Corp.'s cable service in a small section of New Hampshire also can't see the opening round of the baseball playoffs in high definition. Some of them, like Shaun Parsons of Pelham, N.H., aren't happy.

"I've been able to watch the games on NESN in HD all year. When it counts, playoff time, I'm relegated to watching it in non-HD format, which is not nearly as good," said Parsons, who bought a 50-inch plasma television last year for $2,000. Now he is wondering whether his cable service is worth the $150 a month he pays.

"I'm seriously thinking about going to DirecTV now," Parsons said.

The complaints are a result of Major League Baseball's reported $110 million deal to move the first round of the playoffs, along with some second-round games, to Turner Broadcasting System Inc.'s TBS network.

But when TBS launched its high-definition channel Sept. 1, many cable systems did not carry the signal. Comcast added it in Massachusetts and Vermont this week. It is also available in most of New Hampshire.

Shawn Feddeman, a Comcast spokeswoman, said a "small number" of New Hampshire communities in the Londonderry area that do not have TBS HD were recently acquired by the company from Adelphia and are not yet up to "Comcast standards." But work to upgrade the Londonderry system is nearly complete, Feddeman said, and nine high-definition channels are scheduled to be added next month, including TBS HD.

Charter wants to add the channel, but was unable to wrap up negotiations with Turner Broadcasting in time for the playoffs, said spokesman Ed Goldstein.

"This is a service business, we're not out to anger our customers," Charter said. "But legally, we can't [offer TBS HD] until they let us do it."

The first round of the playoffs also is not being broadcast in high definition on Verizon's FiOS.

"We're a new system and adding channels all the time, but unfortunately won't have TBS HD for the baseball playoffs," Verizon spokesman Phil Santoro said in an e-mail. "But we expect to continue adding dozens of new channels including HD channels in the coming months."

That won't pacify Sox fans like Justin Bullion, a Wellesley resident who pays about $170 per month for a package that includes Verizon's TV, Internet, and phone services.

Bullion initially turned down an offer to switch from Comcast to FiOS months ago because FiOS didn't offer New England Sports Network in high definition. The channel, partly owned by The New York Times Co., which also owns the Globe, broadcasts Red Sox games during the regular season.

"Boston's pretty wealthy, we're first movers," Bullion said. "Not being able to see the Red Sox in HD is just a big corporate mistake."

Keith Reed can be reached at

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