If you aren’t familiar with regional blackouts, let me explain just how crazy this whole concept is.
The Federal Communications Commission describes sports blackouts as this:
“When a sports event that was scheduled to be televised is not aired in a particular media market.
This blackout may prevent transmission of sports programming on local broadcast networks and/or non-broadcast platforms such as cable and satellite television.”
The blackouts really hit sports fans hard when regional sports networks restrict games by location, specifically when customers probably paid hundreds of dollars for season-long media access to the NFL (NFL Sunday Ticket), NBA (League Pass), and MLB (MLB.TV).
For example, if you are a fan of the Cincinnati Reds and you live in the surrounding Cincinnati area, you have three options to watch them play:
– Go to the game in person
-Have a TV subscription that includes regional sports networks (like Bally Sports, which just filed for bankruptcy)
-Buy the MLB.TV season pass, but you can only watch games that the Reds play away from home, which is 81 of their 162 games
The blackout restrictions have become so excessive that at a recent Chicago White Sox game, a fan shared this picture on their Twitter account:
They can’t even have the game playing in the stadium WHERE THE GAME IS BEING PLAYED! How ridiculous is that?
The restrictions have eased up in recent years, and compared to how they were in the 1970s to 1990s, they’ve gotten a whole lot better.
There was a time when the Miami Dolphins NFL team would only allow for a blackout to be lifted (just to have the game on TV) if 85% of tickets were sold at the home game. Back then, your only way of watching the Dolphins would be to go in person, root that it was a sell-out crowd, or drive out of the state (out of the market) to watch it where there were no blackouts.
Many fans have called for blackout restrictions for sports games to end, especially in the “cord-cutting” age of media consumption. Those individuals that pay for the “season long passes” like MLB.TV or NBA League Pass also feel like they should get to view every game of the season since, you know, that’s what they paid for.
For the issue to have reached such great heights to the point where the ballpark can’t even play the game happening mere hundreds of feet away is preposterous.
As media partnerships and TV consumption continue to evolve and regional sports networks fail, fans are hoping that one thing that is left in the past are the ancient blackout restrictions.