With the weekend upon us, many of you are thinking, “I’ll catch some games on MLB Extra Innings, or on MLB.TV”, well... not really.
Today, on Baseball Prospectus, I go over the national and local blackout policy for those stuck with MLB Extra Innings, MLB.TV and blank screens today. As I write in Blackout Blues: Not Quite Catching All the Action:
Let's start with MLB's pure money grab: national exclusivity deals. Every Saturday, from 1:10 PM ET or before 7:05 PM ET, all games are blacked out due to an exclusivity agreement with FOX, which typically broadcasts one game starting at 3:55 Eastern. That means in a six-hour window in which games are being played, six today, you can watch two at most--the Fox game and your local team if it's playing on TV in that window and isn't the Fox game. On a day such as April 5, the Fox blackout means just four games show up on Extra Innings. On Sundays, ESPN holds the rights to night games, so any games that start after 5 p.m. ET are blacked out. In practice, this only affects a handful of games, as almost all Sunday games are played in the daytime. To add more hair-pulling to the mix, TBS is now in the fray. TBS airs 26 Sunday afternoon games this year which are blacked out in local markets--TBS can air an alternate game in those areas, and as many as 13 of any single team. So those of you in Boston and New York may barely be aware of TBS' new arrangement by the end of the season.
There’s plenty more to scratch your head about for you DirecTV and iNDemand with EI, or MLB.TV customers. MLB may be looking to address the blackout policy in advance of the MLB Network launch, but if you’re thinking about something like the NFL has, forget it. You’re still going to be hit with blackouts, this year and next. Fans are hit in the head with a scorching foul ball when it comes to blackouts.
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