Spectrum cable viewers in southern Maine missed this third-quarter interception by San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner because the FOX-TV Super Bowl broadcast was interrupted by a commercial touting Spectrum service. Associated Press/Doug Benc

Billy Goodman was enjoying Sunday’s Super Bowl at home with his family when, in the third quarter of a close game, the image of Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes suddenly disappeared in favor of a commercial touting Spectrum’s cable television and internet service.

“It was a little ironic,” said Goodman, coach of the Cheverus girls’ basketball team. “They were saying how good they were.”

Goodman’s 13-year-old son took to his cellphone to see what they were missing, which turned out to be a sack by San Francisco’s Nick Bosa, a fumble (recovered by Mahomes) and a turnover on the next play. When the commercial ended and the FOX-TV game broadcast resumed, Goodman saw the 49ers celebrating after an interception.

Trying to make light of what he described as an annoying moment, Goodman tweeted, “A Spectrum commercial. Retweet this if you think they owe us a free month of cable.”

Goodman was one of several Spectrum customers in southern Maine to voice displeasure on social media after the interruption. Lara Pritchard, a spokeswoman for Spectrum, said she did not know how many complaints the cable company had received.

So how did the snafu occur?

“These spots run when a signal from a broadcaster triggers our automated system to run the spot on that channel,” Pritchard said Monday afternoon. “We’re working with WGME to determine the source of the signal to run outside the (scheduled) commercial break.”

Although WGME, Channel 13, is a CBS affiliate, the station shares studios and transmitter facilities with WPFO-TV, the FOX affiliate serving the Portland market.

Viewers in southern Maine who watched the game over the air or through the Dish network or DirectTV did not experience the same 60-second commercial interruption, however, indicating the problem lies with Spectrum.

It’s unclear how many viewers may have been affected. Pritchard said Spectrum does not release numbers on its cable customers for competitive reasons.

According to Nielsen ratings, the number of households in the Portland-Auburn television market is a little over 425,000. The percentage of households with wired cable television dropped below 48 percent in 2019, according to the Television Bureau of Advertising, and the Super Bowl generally attracts around 40 percent of households.

So a rough guess is that 81,600 households saw the Spectrum commercial instead of the sack, fumble and pick.

At least one viewer could not reach Spectrum to complain during the game.

“I am appalled,” said Warren Bell, a viewer in Pownal. “I tried to reach Spectrum. I called and called and I couldn’t get through on their line.”

Bell said his household spends roughly $180 monthly on cable, phone and internet service and he now plans to switch to YouTube for television.

“I’m not going to patronize a company that feels it has the authority to interrupt a game you’ve been looking forward to for two weeks,” he said. “That’s not right.”


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