Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Archaic Concept Of TV Blackouts.

According to a Jeff Passan column at Yahoo Sports, MLB is going to at least attempt to address the outdated notion of blackout markets for certain MLB teams -- in the age of MLB Extra Innings and the Internet, restricting where a team can be shown seems like just another way to unnecessarily piss off a fanbase. Problem is, baseball's been real good at that lately -- see the whole complaint and pissing match that MLB had with the cable reps that basically sent Extra Innings to satellite-dish only status.

Most sports leagues tend to roll behind the curve on these things, but none more so than baseball, as it goes with everything else. These territorial rights were given to owners in order to develop fan bases by force, in a pre-cable, pre-satellite, and pre-internet world. There was no national audience to share in, so teams had to have these blackout areas to devleop. Now, that's not the case, as Passan writes:

Most teams distribute their games on television through regional sports networks, like the Kansas City Royals with Royals Sports Television Network. The Royals' situation is a good example of how asinine the blackout rules can be. They have the fifth-largest blackout area, covering all of Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and most of Missouri. Fans in those states whose cable or satellite providers do not carry RSTN will be blacked out from every Royals game.
Feel free to insert your own joke about anyone in those particular states even wanting to watch a Royals game. (I kid, KC fans, I kid.) The obvious problem is that MLB will have to convince all 30 owners, and when's the last time you got 30 businessmen looking out for their own bottom line on the same page? It doesn't give them any economic benefit to get rid of the blackouts.

However, it would be nice if they'd actually consider their own fanbase that's coughing up on a cable bill to watch -- I live in an area of California split between fans of the Bay Area teams and SoCal teams (Giants and Dodgers fans seem to have the edge here), and I'm sure Charter would pick up the Bay Area Fox Sports affiliates if they could for the area -- but we're limited to Angels and Dodgers, as far as telecasts go.

1 comment:

AwfulOfficiating said...

The blackout sucks. I live in central Pa, and we're blacked out from all Phils, O's, Nat's and Pirates games. My cable co only carries the Phillies games, so each night I miss potentially up to 3 games. If my beloved Mets are playing the Nats or Pirates - I'm screwed. My buddy sent an email to mlb.com explaining our situation, and they game a typical pre-written explaination that really didn't offer any help or optimism to the situation. I'd love to see the owners do something to change this, otherwise - next year I might not order the package at all.