The logic goes, if you’re a loyal customer – be it your local grocery store, or Major League Baseball – you should be rewarded. You, after all, buy more goods than the average fan, and therefore, are adding to the bottom line.
But, for Major League Baseball, it’s not the case. In fact, you’re treated worse.
At least that’s the case if you purchase MLB Extra Innings or MLB.TV.
Since this is the beginning of the season, the annual rite of passage hits my in-box and Twitter feed. “Is MLB going to do anything about the blackout policy?” Here’s the short answer: No.
And, it’s not just, “No” this year, it’s likely to be years to come – maybe never – before the Lords of Baseball decide to do the right thing for its best customers. When asked if the topic of the blackout policy had been a serious topic for the owners to discuss as part of any recent agenda items, a high placed MLB source said, “It has certainly been a topic of conversation at owners meetings but it is a complicated issue with the regional TV networks that have contractual rights to specific territories.”
To that I say, bollocks.
I get that the arcane and convoluted television territories are needed (select Read More to see them). Owners need to keep their ownership brethren from encroaching, then draw up the territories as they see fit. But, if you’re trying to sell me that in blacking out a Mariners fan in Butte, Montana he or she will be more likely to drive to Seattle to see a game because it’s blacked out well, the owners are dumber than we’ve been led to believe.
And, when you think about it, this issue has gotten worse, not better. With Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad sales skyrocketing (a recent Piper Jaffray report said Apple shipped 2.4 million to 2.6 million iPad 2s in March, and that a survey of teenage 4,500 students had 37 percent indicating they expect to buy an iPhone in the next six months, with 20 percent of them expected to purchase tablets, as well), then the associated MLB.TV subscription needed to watch streaming games means more and more consumers are caught in the ridiculous blackout policy.
Major League Baseball, you don’t care as much as you should for your best fans. Not exposing your product to its core fan base is terrible business judgment.
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Those thinking of purchasing MLB Extra Innings or MLB.TV, here’s resources you need to know
If you are looking to watch games streamed to your computer, Sony, Roku, Boxee, or Apple device, you need to read MLB.TV’s fine print. Here is the policy:
Regular Season Local Live Blackout: All live games on MLB.TV and available through MLB.com At Bat are subject to local blackouts. Such 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. If you are an MLB.TV Premium subscriber and not within either Club's home television territory, the applicable game will be available as an archived game as soon as possible after the conclusion of the game. If you are an MLB.TV Premium subscriber within either Club's home television territory or an MLB.TV subscriber in any territory, the applicable game will be available as an archived game approximately 90 minutes after the conclusion of the game. Archived games are not available through MLB.com At Bat.
In addition, note:
• These blackout restrictions apply regardless of whether a Club is home or away and regardless of whether or not a game is televised in a Club's home television territory.
• All live Toronto Blue Jays games are blacked out throughout the entire country of Canada.
• Additional teams may also be subject to blackout in parts of Canada based on their region.
• All live games will be blacked out in the U.S. territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands during the MLB regular season.
SELECT READ MORE TO SEE MLB’S TELEVISION TERRITORIES
See the map below for MLB’s television territories:
MLB's blackout map is a confusing case of
(CLICK TO SEE IN LARGER VIEW)
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Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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