End the Blackouts

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a 10-part series commemorating baseball’s new commissioner with advice for his tenure. To read more about this series, click here.

MLB blackouts could, and should, be a thing of the past. (via Billy Bob Bain)

MLB television blackouts could, and should, be a thing of the past. (via Billy Bob Bain)

We live in the golden age of watching major league baseball. With either the MLB.tv Internet service or MLB Extra Innings pay-per-view television package, fans today can watch virtually every one of the 2,430 games played each season, all for the relatively low price of around $100-200 per year.

Unfortunately, like so many good things in life, this all-inclusive baseball access comes with a catch: “Blackout and other restrictions apply.” MLB’s television blackout policy currently runs more than 850 words. In a nutshell, the policy prevents subscribers of either the MLB.tv or MLB Extra Innings services from viewing, in real time, the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game of the week, the subscriber’s regional Fox Saturday broadcast, or – most importantly – any game involving the subscriber’s designated “home” team. This latter restriction applies “regardless of whether or not a game is televised in a Club’s home television territory,” meaning that even if your designated home team’s game is not being televised locally, you still can’t watch it on either pay-per-view service.

As others have previously noted, this home territory restriction can, at times, lead to absurd outcomes, leaving some fans completely unable to watch their favorite team play. This is something that I would like to see changed in the Rob Manfred era.

To the uninitiated, this home territory blackout restriction may not seem like that big of a deal. Because almost all of a team’s games are usually broadcast in its home market on one station or another, one would logically assume that even if a game were blacked out on MLB Extra Innings or MLB.tv, local fans could still watch it via traditional cable television.

This is not always the case, however, as many fans routinely find themselves blacked out from watching games that are completely unavailable on their local cable system. In some cases, this may be due to a dispute between the club’s regional sports network and one of its town’s local cable providers (Houston and Los Angeles provide two recent examples).

In other cases, blackouts will affect fans living a great distance from a team’s home city. Because teams’ home television territories frequently extend hundreds of miles, they often reach areas where the local cable provider has never carried – and likely never will carry – the regional network broadcasting a particular team’s games. Nevertheless, fans in these regions are still subject to MLB’s blackout policy. For example, even though most local cable providers in Hawaii do not subscribe to the San Francisco Giants’ regional network, all Giants games are still blacked out in the state. Not only does this mean these fans can’t watch the Giants play on television, but under MLB’s blackout rules they are also unable to tune in on the Internet via MLB.tv.

Moreover, as the following map illustrates, because teams’ broadcast territories frequently overlap, some fans routinely find themselves blacked out from watching multiple major league games on any given night.


Take, for instance, anyone living in Iowa, where the entire state is considered the home broadcast territory of six teams: the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals. This means Iowa fans may be unable to watch 40 percent of the 15 games played most days. Fans living in Las Vegas – the home territory of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants – suffer a similar fate.

Even those fans who can watch their team play on a local sports network may still be affected by MLB’s blackout restrictions. For any number of reasons, a fan may prefer to watch a game over the Internet rather than on television. Under MLB’s current television policy, though, these fans are also blacked out from watching their home team play on-line (the sole exception being fans living in Canada, where the Toronto Blue Jays are the only MLB team to currently offer fans live, in-market streaming over the Internet).

To its credit, MLB has recognized that its blackout policy can impose hardship on some of its fans. Back in 2006, Commissioner Bud Selig – himself an occasional victim of MLB’s blackout rules – expressed frustration over the policy and vowed to fix it. This led to a push in 2007 to redefine each team’s broadcast territory, with MLB reportedly giving owners a year to work out any contractual issues that the change might raise under their broadcast agreements with the regional sports networks. Eight years later, however, MLB’s broadcast territories still haven’t been adjusted.

Instead, MLB appears to have resigned itself to adopting what are, at best, half-measures. This past August, Bob Bowman – president and CEO of MLB Advanced Media, the company that runs the MLB.tv service – told the Associated Press that he hoped the league’s blackout restrictions would be eased in 2015. In particular, Bowman described a new policy that would allow fans to view their home team’s games over the Internet via MLB.tv, but only if the fan also subscribed to whichever cable network is airing the game locally (similar to the model recently used for live streaming of the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup). So in other words, if you are a cable subscriber, you may soon have the choice of watching your local team play on either television or the Internet.

While this change would be a good start, it doesn’t go far enough. Although it is still unclear exactly how this latest proposal will be implemented, based on Bowman’s comments it appears that anyone who does not currently subscribe to a regional sports network would still be unable to watch the home team play via MLB Extra Innings or MLB.tv. Presumably, this would be true even if the network isn’t offered in your area, meaning that those unlucky fans living in Iowa or Las Vegas would still be unable to watch a number of games each day.

So what should be done? Some economists have suggested that MLB should simply eliminate its broadcast territory restrictions entirely. As the argument goes, by dispensing with broadcast territories, competition would be introduced into the local broadcast marketplace, forcing regional sports networks to compete with services like MLB.tv. This competition, in turn, would give consumers more choice and lower prices for their televised baseball.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

While this scenario sounds attractive in theory, MLB would argue that it is unworkable in practice. Indeed, the reason that teams were originally assigned exclusive local broadcast territories was not to avoid competition with pay-per-view television or Internet services, but to prevent teams from beaming their games into each others’ television markets. Without exclusive broadcast territories, for example, nothing would stop the New York Yankees from signing local television agreements with stations in Cincinnati, Kansas City or Milwaukee.

The fear, then, is that without broadcast territories, the most popular large market teams would directly compete with smaller market teams in their own territories. This would increase the large market teams’ local television revenue while  decreasing the TV revenue of the smaller market teams, further exacerbating competitive balance concerns. While an economist might argue that these concerns could largely be alleviated through enhanced revenue sharing among major league  teams – with all teams agreeing to share their local television revenues equally – the odds are nonexistent that the Yankees or Dodgers would ever agree to split their local TV money evenly with the Royals or Brewers. So a complete elimination of MLB’s exclusive broadcast territories appears unrealistic.

Alternatively, one might propose that MLB continue to assign its teams an exclusive broadcast territory, but simply lift the restrictions preventing fans from viewing in-market games over the Internet. This solution would also introduce some element of competition into the broadcast marketplace, allowing fans to forgo subscribing to cable entirely and instead watch their local team play exclusively on MLB.tv (cable cutters rejoice).

While this would be a major step forward, it is also something that MLB is unlikely to agree to voluntarily. Teams currently earn tens to hundreds of millions of dollars per year from their local television contracts with the regional networks. Those networks, in turn, are willing to pay these sums in exchange for exclusivity. By ensuring that they remain the only outlet for local fans to watch their favorite team play, the networks are able to charge cable providers significant fees for the right to carry their station. They, therefore, would strongly oppose any plan to allow fans to freely access in-market games via MLB Extra Innings or MLB.tv because then there would be little reason for cable providers to pay to carry their networks. And MLB teams are unlikely to do anything that could threaten the substantial revenues they receive from the regional networks.

As a result, the most practical solution for the time being would appear to be paring back each team’s assigned territory to a more reasonable radius. As a starting point, MLB could prevent teams from claiming any territory where their games have not been broadcast on a consistent basis in, say, the last five years. Such a solution would still provide the regional networks with the bulk of the exclusivity they want, while allowing fans who are currently unable to watch a game on television to tune in via Extra Innings or MLB.tv.

Sadly, though, even this proposal is unlikely to be adopted anytime soon. As noted above, MLB explored the possibility of redefining its teams’ broadcast territories back in 2007, only to determine that there were too many contractual issues to overcome. As Bob Bowman told the Associated Press in August, “If [the blackout issues] were easy to resolve, then somebody would have done it.”

Without being privy to the behind-the-scenes maneuvering, it is difficult to know just how seriously MLB worked to resolve these issues. Nevertheless, one has to believe that if baseball was truly committed to redefining the broadcast territories, it would have figured out a way to do so by now.

Rob Manfred should make resolving this issue one of his top priorities as commissioner. While reconfiguring the league’s blackout map will undoubtedly require some teams to renegotiate their regional network contracts, given the value of live sports programming today the time is ripe for MLB to resolve these issues once and for all. And to the extent the process imposes any real financial hardship on a franchise, MLB can use its central league coffers to compensate the team for its trouble.

Alternatively, at a minimum, MLB should prevent teams from entering new contracts with regional sports networks promising exclusivity based on the existing blackout map. This would enable MLB to slowly implement a more rational set of exclusive broadcast territories, without disrupting any of its teams’ existing contracts. To be sure, this would require teams to voluntarily agree to reduce their broadcast territories, perhaps a wildly overoptimistic expectation on my part. And even then, this process would take quite some time to rationalize MLB’s blackout restrictions, since some teams’ current local television contracts run into the 2030s. But at least things would be starting to move in the right direction.

Ultimately, should MLB refuse to act voluntarily, the time may come when its hand is forced. A lawsuit – Garber v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball – is currently working its way through the courts challenging, in part, MLB’s television blackout policies under federal antitrust law. While the suit’s odds of success are uncertain, MLB would be wise to fix its blackout restrictions now, on its own terms, rather than risk having a judge or jury impose even more radical changes in the future.

The time has come, then, for MLB to fix its antiquated television blackout system. It has fans who are willing to pay good money to watch its product, but are unable to do so. MLB should let them have their baseball.

Nathaniel Grow is an Associate Professor of Business Law and Ethics and the Yormark Family Director of the Sports Industry Workshop at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. He is the author of Baseball on Trial: The Origin of Baseball's Antitrust Exemption, as well as a number of sports-related law review articles. You can follow him on Twitter @NathanielGrow. The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not express the views or opinions of Indiana University.
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Patrick Green
9 years ago

Before I switched to Direct TV and subsequently rid myself of the local cable company, I was unable to watch any Baltimore Orioles or Washington Nationals games. I live in North Carolina, and paid good money for MLB Extra Innings — alas, I was not able to watch Stephen Strasburg pitch a full game until 2012 as a consequence. I agree that something has to be done. These blackout rules are ludicrous.

9 years ago
Reply to  Patrick Green

‘alas, I was not able to watch Stephen Strasburg pitch a full game until 2012 as a consequence. ‘

That’s a pretty good trick since he pitched his one and only full game in 2013 🙂 I knew what you meant, I was just messin.

Powder Blues
9 years ago


(the other) Walter
9 years ago

The setup as it currently is, is almost a “Reserve Clause” for (against?) the fan-base based on where they live. Time for some fan free-agency.

9 years ago

All great points, but you didn’t get indignant enough about the Saturday afternoon blackout. No games out of market from 12-6pm Eastern, even though Fox broadcasts MAYBE one game from 3-6p. How is forcing customers not to watch baseball better for the sport?

9 years ago
Reply to  Ryan

They fixed the Saturday blackout this past year:


I give them credit for that as it was probably the dumbest part of the whole situation.

9 years ago
Reply to  Mike

Actually, that last part is a lie. The dumbest part is when a local affiliate doesn’t televise a game and it becomes an MLBTV exclusive. Then, everyone can watch a game except for fans within the blackout range (aka. the fans who probably on average care the most). This happened to me a couple years ago with a CLE-OAK contest.

9 years ago

Amen and agree with other comments, too.
As an MLB.TV subscriber with cable that sucks who lives in the Ozarks and is located 400+ miles from Kansas City, I’m prevented from watching American League games televised in KC because this is “Royals territory”.
Royals games are not part of the televised schedule here. Don’t even care about the Royals, but do want to watch some of the visiting teams.
Re: “Olympic Model”: To some extent, MLB imposed its own blackout of post season games by televising on the MLB Network. Until very recently, the MLB Network was not available on cable in this location. When it was finally available, the cable monopoly put it into an outrageously priced package coupled with more of the usual drivel that is supposedly programming these days. The MLB Network is not available online without a cable code. (Due to the location a dish would need to be placed to receive signals and the local geography, it’s not an option.)
It’s an insane system that is designed to alienate, not promote fandom and part of the entire US culture of “we’ll do anything for a buck” and “consumer be damned until dividends or top of the house salaries might be negatively impacted.”

A. Hopkins
9 years ago

It should be noted that Gameday audio allows everyone access to every game… there are no blackout restrictions. Baseball is vastly superior on the radio anyway. I subscribe both to MLB.tv and Gameday audio… and I am not losing sleep when I have to go radio only.

9 years ago
Reply to  A. Hopkins

They really need an option to choose a video broadcast and a separate audio broadcast. They’d probably be out of sync, but it would be worth it. Sure, I could mute the tv and run the audio on another device, but I shouldn’t have to.

And yes, the radio broadcasts are a lot better in general. Nobody should be allowed to do tv broadcasts until they’ve had a decade or six in radio.

A. Hopkins
9 years ago
Reply to  hopbitters

You can in fact sync the radio broadcast with the television feed, but only on certain devices. For whatever reason I can do this with my Roku, but not on my desktop or smartphone. I’m hoping that next year this feature will be available on all platforms.

9 years ago
Reply to  hopbitters

Good to know. Thanks A.H.

8 years ago
Reply to  A. Hopkins

I subscribe to MLB.com
I live 100 miles from Cincinnati.
I would really enjoy getting to watch one of the Reds games.
I wonder how many tens of thousands of people or more would enjoy not only watching the games, but also purchase Cincinnati red ball caps and jerseys and flags and whatever else that is available because we watched the games.
I guess I’ll throw my money to Chicago I can watch their games. I feel like I’m being punished that if I don’t actually go see the game they won’t let me watch it so I watch Chicago games. Cincinnati will just have to forgo my business even though I’m closer.

Matt P
9 years ago

“As a starting point, MLB could prevent teams from claiming any territory where their games have not been broadcast on a consistent basis in, say, the last five years.”

Networks require satellite providers such as DirecTV and Dish to provide carriage for the whole media territory or for none of it. That’s why DirecTV has to offer carriage to MASN in North Carolina. I presume it’s the same for cable providers.

Cable providers don’t have to provide carriage and it would be possible to prevent teams from claiming any territory where they don’t have significant cable coverage. But then that means that Comcast and Time Warner can hold carriage rights up for hostage.

“Alternatively, at a minimum, MLB should prevent teams from entering new contracts with regional sports networks promising exclusivity based on the existing blackout map.”

That would cost MLB hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

Matt P
9 years ago
Reply to  Nathaniel Grow

I’m most familiar with MASN so I’d prefer to use them as an example. As you stated, MASN charges its core subscribers the highest prices. They charge subscribers in outer areas half of what they charge their core subscribers. Furthermore, they charge subscribers in North Carolina half of what they charge people in the outer areas.

But MASN reaches the Harrisburg DMA, all of Virginia, part of West Virginia and a good chunk of North Carolina. It’s true that all relevant cable providers don’t broadcast MASN in North Carolina but satelite TV does and there’s 1 million satelite subscribers in MASNs North Carolina area. And there are 2.8 million satelite and cable subscribers in MASNs outer core area. MASN isn’t able to broadcast its product to all 2.8 million of those subscribers — some because their provider won’t pay MASNs fees and others because Comcast won’t upgrade their service but they still have a significant amount of customers from those areas. It’s true that Baltimore and DC are the major markets but Virginia isn’t small either, ya know?

Bottom line is that MASN is probably getting roughly between a third and a forth of its revenue from non-core regions or between $45 to $60 million in 2014. That means it receives another $120 to $135 million for its core areas. Sound reasonable?

Meanwhile, neither the Orioles or the Nationals are one of the three most popular teams in pretty much all of the non-core regions under their control as shown on the NY Times Facebook map. Time Warner surveyed their customers in North Carolina to see which teams they rooted for. The Orioles got four votes out of 500 fans while the Nationals got zero. Neither team is popular.

If the Orioles can only get 66,000 households on average to watch their games in Baltimore where they actually have fans then how many are they getting in Norfolk where they’re not one of the three most popular baseball teams? And the Nationals are even less popular in Washington. There are very few households in the non-core regions that are even Orioles or Nationals fans let alone willing to watch them. So how many would be interested in paying an extra fee in order to receive Orioles or Nationals games?

Very few. And that means that MASN would lose $45 to $60 million in revenue while MLB would receive very little in return for having a better MLB package to sell online. In fact, MLB might lose money if MASN requires a fee in return for giving up the territory.

And that’s only two teams. Now, while I agree that clubs like Philadelphia and Los Angeles have a limited non-core region, teams like the Mariners, Braves and Rangers rely on their non-core region considerably more than MASN and will suffer a horrendous blow if they lose parts of their region. And the Rangers aren’t very popular in Louisiana. And we haven’t even talked about Las Vegas yet.

I’m telling you, MLB teams would lose hundreds of million in revenue if this changed.

9 years ago


Your welcome.

Beat the blackouts without video degradation.

Yoanus Sexpedes
9 years ago

I live in Wisconsin, but two years ago MLB.TV randomly decided I lived in Louisville, Kentucky. Got reds games blocked, and Brewers the whole season. I still have no reason why, all I know is it’s possible. May the blackout gods be in your favor next year.

9 years ago

I get the whole blackout. The only thing that grinds my gears is that if a game is not being televised by the local network WHY IN THE WORLD IS IT BLACKED OUT ON MLB.TV??? I mean, they are trying to promote baseball but don’t let you watch it. This is worse in areas with multiple teams. For example in Central Florida you fall in the areas of Marlins and Rays, so even if you are a Braves or Nationals fan you cannot watch either one playing at home when they play the Marlins…. This is ridiculous. Oh and sometimes those games are not broadcasted. Go figure. One solution is to move to another country and have unrestricted MLB.TV (I tried this on a trip and it works)

9 years ago

Living in Utah, I am in the home territory of the Arizona Diamondbacks, which is 10 hours away from my home. People living in northern Utah are even farther away. Yet only Colorado Rockies games are broadcast in Utah. So I get no D-backs games. Absurd!

Alaska Pete
9 years ago

Yup, plenty of outrage to go around on this topic. I’m in Western Alaska, and we can’t watch Seattle Mariner games online because Alaska is Mariner country. Needless to say, our local “cable company” (20 channels) doesn’t offer Mariner baseball. Alaska-based GCI cable does, but they don’t have service in most of the tiny villsages of Western AK. So to WATCH a Mariner game I simply have to get in a boat (or snowmachine if its before mid-May or so) and drive to the airport, hop on a small plane to Bethel for $100 each way, then hop on a small jet to Anchorage for $250 each way, then get on a big jet to Seattle for more $$ and a 3.5 hour flight, then catch the light rail from Seatac to safeco field where I pay more $$ for a ticket. People in Adak, Alaska are closer to Japan than they are to Seattle. And don’t forget we can all see Russia from our houses. ; – ) This is totally selfish, but can we at least get mlb to agree that the 49th and 50th states are not the territory of any team? Or maybe we should be claimed by the Nippon Ham Fighters of Hokkaido? Only 2,000 miles away…

Mr Punch
9 years ago

The out-of-market viewers are one thing, the cable-cutters another. I live in the Boston area, and the only reason I’m paying Comcast ~$200/month is for local sports. (It is in fact possible to beat the MLB.tv local blackout quite easily and cheaply, but many people would rather not.) From my point of view, baseball is now subsidizing cable TV, not the reverse. MLB or individual teams is/are tied to an industry that is in the midst of a revolution; the model will change, but how fast?

John S
8 years ago
Reply to  Mr Punch

Mr Punch – exactly. Well-put, and I’m right there with you. I want to cut the cord, and I’d gladly give MLB.TV the $120 per season that it’s asking, in exchange for just being able to watch my home team’s games. They need to recognize that a la carte streaming is the wave of the future for ALL televised entertainment. Will MLB get out in front of this trend, or will they lag behind and cling to the status quo like the stubborn old nags they appear to be?

Arthur Baughman
9 years ago

If you live in Lititz PA, 70 miles from Philadelphia, you can’t watch a Phillies game. Blue Ridge cable does not carry the games and MLB.TV is blocked.

Central Oregonian
8 years ago

Hey, Nathaniel: Is there any reason to think that baseball execs are even listening to us? Does anybody seem to care?

8 years ago

I am a Pirates fan living in Columbus Ohio. Baseball claims that this is local market for Reds, Indians and Pirates. The Pittsburgh Root channel is on our Directv package and all the Pirates games are blacked out and I get that.
What makes no sense is that MLB network will also black out all the games because ” Of the Pirates Home Territory ” . I would think the greedy folks of MLB would accept my yearly subscription fee but that is not the case. Now I only watch baseball when the Pirates play the Reds or when they play a National Game.
I would assume that they expect you to become a fan of another team which is what must have happened to the fans in the 1960’s who moved away. Perhaps someday baseball will join the rest of us in 2015. # Free Pete Rose !!!

8 years ago
Reply to  LEB

I , like you, am a Pirates fan and have been likewise frustrated about the inability to watch my team. I live 30 miles east, in Newark, but still about 165 miles from the ‘Burgh. Last Wednesday (5/27) the afternoon games offered on MLBtv were Pirates/Marlins and Reds/Rockies; somehow the Reds game was broadcast despite supposedly being subject to blackout. How is this fair?

8 years ago
Reply to  Anne

Delaware, OH Pirates fan here… I found all this out the hard way, luckily I only bought a month subscription to MLB.tv and am NOT opposed to using a VPN. If you want to screw them back, a VPN is the ticket.

8 years ago

I’m a Baltimore Orioles fan, newly relocated to Greensboro, NC. I can understand not being able to see MASN on Time Warner Cable. I can deal with that. What I find ridiculous is that I cannot pay “additional” money for a service MLB provides to see my favorite team. There are not enough synonyms of the word ridiculous I can use to explain how I feel about a blackout. They are costing themselves revenue in the process.

These blackouts need to be 86’ed. No matter how I try to justify the blackouts in place, all roads in my opinion just lead to a head-scratching result.

8 years ago

Seems to me it’d make sense if MLB.tv offered two packages: $24.99 a month for everything, but blackouts apply, or $29.99 a month for no blackouts at all. Then MLB can shove the extra $5 a month each cable cutter pays up the cable company’s butt to lift these silly blackouts. Cable is a dinosaur anyway. We have an AppleTV and with Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime, we pay $21 a month for tons more content than Cable could ever dream of offering us at their silly $100+/mo rates.

Baybie Alyssa
8 years ago

Simply put,

I live in Jackson, Ocean County, NJ. I live far enough NorthEast that I get Optimum cable and thus no CSN.

I also just got MLB Extra Innings for the house.

Are The Phillies blacked out even for Cablevision customers here in Jackson who don’t get Comcast?

Is it impossible to watch all the Phillies games from Jackson, NJ?

8 years ago
Reply to  Baybie Alyssa

I am also a Phillies fan origially from Phila area and now live in Jackson…totally ridiculous that we can’t watch the Phillies on TV here because A) It’s considered a NY market even though we’re in Ocean County where the other cable providers outside Jackson have CSN and B) Since we live in Ocean County MLB considers this part of the Phillies market and can black out the game on MLB Extra Innings

8 years ago

Live in awful state of Utah am from the San Francisco Bay Area. Am a Giants fan and MLB TV takes my money and blacks out games from Arizona and Colorado. Does MLB honestly think that anyone would drive to either state to watch a game. Baseball is for baseball fans no matter who you root for it is just plain money talking. STUPID,STUPID and just plain greedy.

8 years ago

The blackout rules will never change without an act of Congress! Don’t believe it? Well MLB is the only pro sports entity in the USA that has an anti-trust exemption. They can not be sued as a monopoly, which is exactly what they are. Follow the money. The Dodgers set up their own exclusive network with Time-Warner cable for over $1B. It is all about the money. If Congress were to intervene and even threaten to eliminate MLB’s anti-trust exemption the blackout rules would change almost immediately.

8 years ago

I’m also a Pirates fan living in Columbus, Ohio. For some unknown reason, MLB thinks there are an incredible amount of Pirates fans here and says we’re part of the Pirates home market. There are a few, I’ll admit. Mostly transplants from Eastern Ohio. But, there aren’t enough for any of the three cable companies here (WOW, ATT, TW) to pay the ridiculous per-subscriber fee Root Sports charges when they already have to pay Fox Sports Ohio to carry the Reds & Indians. There are vastly more Reds & Indians fans in Central Ohio than there are Pirates fans. The demand just isn’t there for Root Sports. We can e-mail and call the cable companies all we want but they are NEVER going to pay what Root is asking for because it’s too much. Root charges a per-subscriber fee. That means even blue haired little old ladies who would never watch a Pirates game in a million years must pay that fee in order for the cable company to include the channel. It would be different if half the city were Pirates fans but that isn’t the case. Take a fucking poll MLB. I would pay for the Extra Innings package if I could watch the Pirates. I pay every year for the Sunday Ticket in order to watch every Steelers game. The NFL is insanely popular while MLB loses fans every year. If they don’t change soon, their greed will certainly be their undoing.

Matt in Spfd MO
8 years ago

Here is how you temporarily solve this issue:

MLB.tv sets up 2 cameras. One in center field looking at home plate and one at home plate looking toward center field. Sell it for $100 bucks a year – all access to any team and any time. No blackout rules of any kind.

Advantage to fans -> You essentially are buying a season ticket online. The only thing you hear are the sounds of the game. No announcers, no replays, nothing but a seat to watch the game. You could switch between the cameras for the preferred view. The experience is gimped but you can watch the game from your two virtual seats.

Advantage to MLB/Teams -> Extra revenue source that doesn’t tick off the Regional Sports networks, ESPN, Fox, etc. Lucrative deals are still in place.

Advantage to Regional Sports networks, etc -> They can easily advertise that their baseball experience is far better with replays, stat updates, color commentary, interviews, slow mo cameras, etc etc etc. They can even make fun of the horribly inferior mlb.tv offering.

I would easily pay the $100 a year to get a ‘virtual seat’ at every game.

8 years ago

great read……i just spent 2 hours on the phone with mlb.tv ‘customer service’ last night battling this case. i knew it was a total waste of time, but i’m so frustrated about this.

Live in eastern Iowa. All i want to do is watch KC Royals games, no possible way for me to do this. In addition, I’m blacked out from STL, Milwaukee, Minnesota, CHC, CHWS..of which only the Cubs and Sox are shown here.

Certainly, it is not in the spirit of this rules to have a lifelong fan of their team who finally can afford to pay for the games to not be able to watch them in ANY WAY.

researching ways to ‘change’ my IP address…..to allow this to work….anyone have ideas?

8 years ago

Can anyone explain this to me?

So I lived in the east Cleveland area a couple of years ago, and Time Warner Cable had THREE Fox Sports Ohio equivalents. However, for some reason, the Cincinnati equivalent would be on air but not screening Reds games (there would be some other programming on instead of the game). Of course, MLB.tv would have it blacked out. If the Indians were blocking the Reds out of “their” market, shouldn’t I have then been out of market for the Reds?

8 years ago

What happened to the good old days when I didn’t have to subscribe to listen to baseball on the radio? Now I live in a non-market area with poor radio signal and I can not listen to ball games streamed on the web. Why? What does it hurt to listen to a ball game? Who does it hurt? Only fans. I love the game, but not enough to plop down a couple hundred dollars. Lift the blackout on local radio stations at least.

Nancy Webster
8 years ago

I have AT&T Universe on my TV and I called AT&T to have the Comcast station added to my line up so that I could watch my Cubs Games only to find out that they were blacked out and I was so upset. I have been a die hard fan for 49 years and I feel if I am paying for the Comcast station I should be able to watch the games so could you please stop blacking out the games. I would be very appreciative. Thanks

8 years ago

We live in a state that has no major league team. We have to pay to have cable, dish, MLBtv and still can’t get the giants. Have been giants fans for 50 years and I was 150 dollars a month and can’t watch anything new or our giants games.
This is insane in today’s technology. I wouldn’t even be giving this businesses my money at all except I am trying to get the giants games for my husband and I to watch. Feel like Im in a foreign country and yet they can watch the giants games. We live approximately 600 plus miles from the giants.

8 years ago

I live 350 miles from Chicago…can’t watch the Cubs on MLB TV…Local cable doesn’t carry them…Charter…Satellite carries Comcast…but not WGN Sports…or Ch 7 Chicago…which is 70 games. I cut the cable…no sense paying $100 a month for nothing…I am a hopeful MLB subscriber hoping for them to come to their senses…and stop hitting the fans on the head.

Joe Hamelin
8 years ago

For the past 3-4 years I’ve enjoyed the Padres games, home and away, in Riverside, 90 miles north of Petco Park. In the offseason I moved to Yucca Valley, 60 miles FURTHER away… and found that I had moved back into the blackout area. They I learned the blackout rule would also apply to road games this season. I would get no Padres games. Without telling me this, my subscription was auto-renewed and my credit card charged. I’m out $125 and I haven’t seen a single Padres internet telecast this season. As far as I’m concerned, that’s fraud.

Rick Mason
8 years ago

The Bible says, ‘A greedy man stirs up strife’…

8 years ago

I am a Chicago Cubs fan who now lives in New Mexico. New Mexico is considered home territory for the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. It is roughly a 6 hour drive from Albuquerque to Phoenix, and about 5-6 hours to drive to Denver. When the Cubs play the Rockies either in Denver or in Chicago, I can at least get the Colorado feed of the games via MLB Extra Innings. When the Cubs play the Diamondbacks, either in Phoenix or in Chicago, I cannot get the feed of either Chicago or Arizona. I don’t understand why Arizona insists that feeds of their games be blacked out, regardless of who they are playing or where they are playing. I would think Arizona would be thrilled to think anyone wanted to watch one of their games in the first place. I suppose I should be happy that lowly New Mexico is only home territory to two teams, considering our proximity to Texas. Sure hope the powers that be put an end to all this nonsense one of these days soon.

8 years ago

I live in Las Vegas, the lucky recipient of six separate team blackout areas. This means that as many as 12 games broadcast on any given night may be unavailable to me. This even affects my supposed “home market” teams – with the term being ridiculous in its own right since I am nearly a five-hour drive from the nearest MLB ballpark. An example: The Angels are playing the Red Sox in Boston. Fox Sports West, my “home” network, isn’t televising the game. NESN, the home network for the Red Sox, is. I still can’t watch the game, even though FSW might be running a poker tournament, a California high school football preview or other equally appealing programming that they have zero chance of getting me to watch.

If I wanted to construct a system to deliberately kill interest in baseball, it would look pretty much like what MLB has now. Blackouts don’t preserve ticket sales (the original purpose of them), and they certainly don’t preserve viewership or inspire loyalty. If the game I want to see isn’t on, I am not watching what the Fox network is broadcasting instead. The only thing that this preserves is their right to lose me as a viewer. It also serves to diminish my interest in the sport overall. Many of us have already been priced out of the ballpark. We should be allowed to watch any game that is broadcast, especially if we pay extra for an extended package. With all of the blackouts in my area, there is no chance whatsoever that I will ever purchase MLB Extra Innings.

The blackouts are so rigid that they even includes replays of spring training games and programming on the MLB Network, which supposedly exists to promote the sport. There was one night this summer when MLB Network was carrying a game and an alternate, and I couldn’t watch either game because both involved one of the six teams in my blackout area. How ridiculous is that?

8 years ago

I misspoke. It should be six games, not 12.