Blog Entry

Absurdity in MLB blackout rules knows few bounds

Posted on: April 22, 2011 11:13 am
Edited on: April 22, 2011 11:20 am
By Matt Snyder

I've long loathed the ridiculous blackout policies carried on by Major League Baseball when it comes to TV. For example, I live in Indianapolis. I subscribe to MLB Extra Innings. If I want to watch a Cubs, White Sox or Reds game that is not carried by the home network -- which happens about 10 times per season -- I can't. It happened recently with a Cubs-Padres game and then again with a Rays-White Sox game. Neither WGN nor Comcast Chicago was carrying the game, and the Padres/Rays broadcasts were blacked out for me. I live a 3 1/2 hour drive from Chicago.

You see, MLB clubs can claim a "home territory" for TV rights. The White Sox, Cubs and Reds have all claimed Indy. Check out a map of the continental U.S. home territories. Look at the Iowa and Vegas areas for a few head-scratchers. (Biz of Baseball )

Yes, that's amazingly dumb, especially when we're trying to pay to watch the MLB's product.

Of course, the aforementioned areas are nowhere near the most violated. No, that would be the good people of Hawaii. (Star Advertiser )

Despite being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and quite literally nowhere near a major-league baseball team, Hawaii has been claimed as a home territory by the Giants ... and the A's ... and the Dodgers ... and the Angels ... and the Mariners ... and the Padres.

That's right, Hawaii is in the home market of six teams. 

Thus, Hawaiian cable operators have to swing a deal with each club's regional sports network (like Comcast Sports Bay Area for the Giants, for example), otherwise the games will be blacked out when carried nationally or on MLB Extra Innings or -- unless on ESPN's national telecasts like Sunday Night Baseball.

Oceanic Time Warner has deals in place with the Angels and Dodgers. The Padres and Mariners were unable to agree to terms but have granted "temporary waivers." The Giants and Oceanic Time Warner have been unable to hammer out a deal for more than a year, however, infuriating island Giants fans.

In the end, as money seems the problem, the people who lose out are baseball fans.

You just have to wonder how long MLB will continue this exercise in absurdity. Your paying customers are being treated unfairly and you get statements like this on the Hawaii situation:

"We at MLB would, of course, like to see Oceanic Time Warner better serve cable subscribers in Hawaii by distributing all four RSNs."

Hey, MLB, we the baseball fans who keep your league afloat would simply like to be treated as valued consumers.

Hat-tip: 'Duk at Big League Stew

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Category: MLB

Since: Apr 22, 2011
Posted on: April 22, 2011 12:28 pm

Absurdity in MLB blackout rules knows few bounds

Hey, middle of Iowa, about 250+ miles from Twins, White Sox, Cubs, Brewers, Royals, Cardinals.  Everybody "OWNS" us.  It's incredibly frustrating.  Seeing games on TV actually makes me want to see games in person, whereas not seeing games just makes me want to do something else. The "Blackout Rules" actually hurt baseball, duh!!!

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: April 22, 2011 12:08 pm

Absurdity in MLB blackout rules knows few bounds

MAN! 12 hours!

And I thought it was absurd that I can't watch Astros games in Dallas/Fort Worth...

Can you believe that??? The ASTROS are blacked out in DALLAS... Pretty sure DFW belongs to the Rangers.

Since: Apr 22, 2011
Posted on: April 22, 2011 12:04 pm

Absurdity in MLB blackout rules knows few bounds

It's a 12 hour drive from Montana to Seattle and all games in Seattle are blacked out here.  I've written to MLB and the Mariners and neither has responded.  Almost like they don't care.

Since: Jan 3, 2007
Posted on: April 22, 2011 11:36 am

Absurdity in MLB blackout rules knows few bounds

You don't even mention the blackout policy for the subscription that many of us use to see games.

As a Cubs fan in Baltimore who does not have cable, allows me to see all of the Cubs games, excepting the Nationals and Orioles games.  Not the end of the world, mildly frustrating, but neither team is in division and the Cubs only see the Orioles every few years in any case.  Additionally, I typically go out to the ballpark to see the Cubs when they are in D.C. at least once, so maybe MLB thinks they're squeezing some $$$ from me that way.  The flaw in that logic is the fact that I go to the ballpark regardless of whether or not I can see the game live at home on TV.  More importantly, I'm relatively new to the Baltimore/D.C. area and with the Orioles looking to be competitve for the first time in a while and all the talent coming up in D.C. with Espinoza, Harper, Storen, and Strasburg; I could easily be made to have a minor rooting interest in either team.  The blackout on prevents this from happening though.  I'll go see 5-10 games at Camden Yards and 2-3 at Nationals Park this season, but I won't be able to watch any other live games for these teams.  If I could see the Orioles live and I would be happy to have an American League team to root for, but the blackout prevents this. 

I recently came from Denver, and by all rights the Rockies are an interesting team to follow right now with Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and Ubaldo Jimenez being premier players at their positions entering the prime of their careers.  However, for the past few years I was not able to watch any live Rockies games at home, due to blackout rules, on which I paid for.  Had I been able to watch the Rockies on occasion I would have been more prone to be interested in the team and go out to the park when the Cubs weren't in town.

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