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

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Category: MLB

Since: Sep 6, 2012
Posted on: September 6, 2012 1:54 pm

Solution to MLB blackout

If you are techie, there are several ways to get aroudn the MLB blackout like UnoDNS

Since: May 2, 2010
Posted on: February 19, 2012 3:38 am

Absurdity in MLB blackout rules knows few bounds

I don't care how near or far you are to ANY market. If you're paying for a subscription there should NEVER be a black out.

The entire system of television viewing needs an overhaul anyway, IMO.

For example, the cable programs they offer suck. Why can;t you just buy each individual channel that you want. I don't want 200 channels. I want about 25 channels... throw away all the crap and give me what I want. Let me hand pick and pay per channel.

As for MLB TV and NFL Sunday Ticket and all that, blackouts are total BS.

Since: Sep 4, 2006
Posted on: February 17, 2012 2:45 pm

Absurdity in MLB blackout rules knows few bounds

Great piece, Matt. It sums up the frustration I've felt for years. Why is it that you can much more easily watch all the NFL games than you can the MLB games? Seems like the NFL is more fan friendly. And another frustration is that while I have the Reds' games on my DirecTV system, if I'm away from home I can't watch them on my iPad through my MLB.TV subscription. There needs to be a way to let you watch games on your mobile devices that you are paying for at home.

Since: Jan 1, 2007
Posted on: February 16, 2012 4:55 pm

Absurdity in MLB blackout rules knows few bounds

The distance isn't necessarily a problem. For instance, the Cards are 5 hours from Memphis, yet they are blacked out, but it makes sense given that the Redbirds are the minor league affialate and Memphis is a St. Louis city. Atlanta, eh, ok, I can see it as they are the next local team (though the Rangers are just as close and they don't cross the river). The one I never understood when I was down there is the Reds. Really? The Reds? What do the Reds have to do with Memphis and north Mississippi.

Since: Jan 19, 2009
Posted on: February 16, 2012 10:45 am

Absurdity in MLB blackout rules knows few bounds

I feel Wonderboy's pain.  I live in Austin TX and am blacked out from Dallas and Houston games.  I happen to be a Red Sox fan so it is not too awful for me, but twice a year, I cannot watch my team even though I pay for it via  If I was a Rangers or Astros fan I would feel entirely disenfranchised.
Also, many Saturdays, I cannot watch one of the games reserved by FOX because my local affiliate chooses not to show it.  If MLB is going to blackout these games, FOX should be REQUIRED to show them on all affiliates.  Many weeks I get to watch some stupid movie instead of live baseball (and I do mean stupid-- usually something like Police Academy 4).  FOX's viewership would not be affected by allowing these games to be streamed also.  I (and most people) would rather watch their TV than their computer screen.  But in the communities where the local affiliate chooses to show a re-run of the 1987 Westminster Dog Show instead of live baseball, the residents should still get what they paid for.

Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: February 16, 2012 2:34 am

Absurdity in MLB blackout rules knows few bounds

I live in Iowa, I normally get the Cubs and White Sox as my normal local teams, fine and dandy.  Decided to spend the money on MLB Extra Innings and to my surprise I got blackedout for Minnesota (5 hours away), Kansas City (5 hours away), Milwaukee (5 hours away), and St. Louis (5 hours away).  Does a distance of 5 hours sound like a local team?  I called Direct TV and they told me that I would have to purchase their sports package in order to obtain those local games.  So, now I not only have $215 invested in MLB Extra Innings, but now I have to pay an additional $12.99 a month in order to get the Fox Sports package.  After that I made a pact that I would never purchase MLB Extra Innings again.  So if you are listening MLB, you lost a customer due to your ridiculous rules. 

Since: Apr 22, 2008
Posted on: April 23, 2011 12:15 am

Absurdity in MLB blackout rules knows few bounds

I live near the Pocono's in Pennsylvania. I have Phillies, Mets, Pirates blacked out. Philly is 1hr 30minutes away, Mets, 1hr 20 minutes away. Pirates 5+ hours away. It's a joke! BTW, the Yankees are not blacked out, go figure. On top of this Comcast has exclusive rights to 8 games a year to witch only Comcast customers get to see those games on CN8..... I wish everyone would take my lead and boycott going to games. Bet things would change when there are only 10,000 in the seats. Look at what happened to the Marlins. Great prospects and can't keep them. But that won't happen and you know the saying, "can't fight city hall" Well city hall is small apples compared to what MLB produces in revenue which equals POWER. We're hosed, it is what it is unfortunetly.

Since: Jun 12, 2008
Posted on: April 22, 2011 4:13 pm


The Blackout rules tend to be pretty aggravating for me, I do not have cable and subscribe to MLB.TV because I love watching my Tigers. I live in South Dakota and for the most part it works out great. Except for games during certain time blocks on weekends and games against the Twins.

The weekend thing really chaps my ass because that simply makes no sense to me. I believe games starting from 1-5 on Saturday and before 5 on Sunday are blacked out?

I want to watch Tigers v. Twins games more than other matchups because of the division rivalry but because the Twins claim South Dakota, which were I am is 6 hours from Minneapolis, I can't watch the games. I can't drive 12 hours round trip to see a game because it is blacked out! Not to mention the REAL raw deal is Tigers v. Twins games are blacked out when they are in Detroit! If the motivation is to get fans off their couch and into stadiums, why would they black out home market away games? Do they really think that people are going to travel from western South Dakota to Detroit to see a a Tuesday night game? Its just stupid and annoying.

But at least I am not in Hawaii, Iowa, Indianapolis, or Vegas!

Since: Mar 14, 2010
Posted on: April 22, 2011 1:56 pm

Absurdity in MLB blackout rules knows few bounds

How about coming to Las Vegas to maybe make a bet on your team legally and sitting down and watching the game in one of our palacial sports books?  Uh, no!!!  Six teams are blacked out here!  We are in the middle of the desert and we have a Triple A team here.....A the Las Vegas 51's, who BTW are the affiliate of the Tornonto Blue Jays!!!!!!  MLB has got some work to do in this town!!

How about on Saturday when we only get one game in town for Fox Saturday Baseball (like the rest of the country) and hearing tourist complain that "We can get the Yankees at home on Saturday!"  Yes you can Mr. Tourist, but due to MLB and Fox Saturday baseball, you get the Angels vs. Mariners game!! 

Since: Apr 22, 2011
Posted on: April 22, 2011 1:45 pm

Absurdity in MLB blackout rules knows few bounds

Definitely agree the blackout of any team in Hawaii is ridiculous but that's MLB, still living in the 19th century.  Six teams being blacked out in Las Vegas is equally absurd 
Here in Phoenix, AZ., we have 3 primary zip codes, 850XX, (central Phoenix) 852XX (Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale etc.) and 853XX (the west side of the metro Phoenix area including, Peoria, which ironically is the spring training home of the Padres,  Glendale, Goodyear, Sun City etc).  San Diego Padres games are available on in the 850XX and 852XX zip codes but not available in the 853XX codes.  This makes no sense to blackout 1/3 of the metro Phoenix area while allowing Padres games to be seen in the other 2/3's.  Phoenix is close to 400 miles from San Diego so there's no need for an blackout especially since Padres games are not blacked anywhere in the Phoenix area on MLB EXtra Innings.  HELLO, wake up MLB and do something about these ridiculous, arcane blackouts

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or