I genuinely hate the MLB blackout.
The rule allows for local baseball games to only be played live on television and denies fans another option for watching.
People don’t carry cable TV around in their pockets. In fact, it’s kind of impossible to carry actual cable TV around in your pocket (and if you have any TV it will run your data up to ridiculous levels). But, Major League Baseball and its blackout rule assume that is exactly what people do.
When I am not at home I usually have the ability to watch streaming video, which means I can watch baseball, but I obviously do not have cable. I paid for MLB.tv hoping to watch many baseball games this season. How wrong I was.
The Major League Baseball rules themselves are quite complicated. The basic concept is this, according to MLB.tv, “Live games will be blacked out in each applicable Club’s home television territory, regardless of whether that Club is playing at home or away. If a game is blacked out in an area, it is not available for live game viewing.”
I didn’t realize at the time I paid for the subscription that I wouldn’t be able to stream Padres home games because I live in the designated area. Instead, I watch the Rangers games (my other team) while I am forced to listen to the Padres broadcast, something I could do for free.
The general idea behind the rule makes sense— the home stations get the broadcast. It is good for those local stations. They get more advertising dollars because they have higher ratings.
But what happens now that Fox Sports is in practically every stadium? The station is owned by a national company. With Fox Sports regionally serving 28 states and New England Sports Network (NESN), a partner of Fox Sports serving five additional states, according to foxsports.com, it is no longer the smaller, local stations that are getting the assistance.
And Fox Sports has nothing to help rectify the situation for fans.
In fact, Fox made it exponentially worse by adding this rule, “During the primetime schedule, all games scheduled between 7 and 10 PM EST will air on FOX locally and be unavailable to watch on MLB Extra Innings or MLB.tv,” according to awfulannouncing.com
California is actually one of the states least affected by this rule. In San Diego, we are only blacked out for Padres games. In Los Angeles, of course, those viewers are blacked out for both the Angels and the Dodgers. And, Northern California is blacked out from both the Raiders and 49ers.
Both the league and the company should at least offer fans an option similar to MLB.tv that is reasonably priced so that we are able to watch our hometown teams while we are in the blackout area but not near TV with cable.
Instead of helping the fans, the rule hurts the viewer and the team. What MLB officials are doing is assuming that all fans sit at home and watch the game.
Baseball is a sport that is played for the fans; we run the industry. When the league blocks the core of their viewers, no one wins. If this rule was started because of funding worries, adding in an online option would bring in greater amounts of funding.
If this were the NFL’s blackout rule, there would be protests and public outcry. Unless baseball fans complain to the MLB and Fox about this rule, we are going to continue to be denied access to watch our favorite teams play online