Dear MLB: Your Blackout Policy Sucks


 

As a baseball fan, I spend a lot of money each year to watch grown men playing a child’s game. A lot of money.  I drop $90 per month for high-speed internet service so I can watch out-of-market games on either my tablet or set-top box.  Over the course of a season, that’s $540.  Add in the $130 MLB premium package as a prerequisite to see those games, and we’re up to $670. That covers me for all the games I want to watch from out of town, like the odd Orioles, Nationals, and Dodger games I watch (It’s gonna be real hard for me to see Vin Scully retire for good.)

I also try and watch as many Marlins games as possible, given the pesky intrusions like work, family, and chores.  In order to do that, I need a TV subscription.  Where I live, I have the option of Comcast cable, AT&T Uverse, and DirecTV. I chose DirecTV.  My $100 monthly bill includes a $22 charge for an additional package unlock that allows me to view the local Fox Sports Florida channel, which carries the Marlins telecast.  That’s another $600 for the season, bringing the annual nut for baseball to $1270.

Let’s not forget the premium I pay my cellular carrier so that I have a high-speed internet connection via the LTE radio in my iPad. Tack on another hondo or two for a season.  Call it about $1500 to feed my baseball jones.

Christ, am I glad my wife doesn’t read my work!

As in most stories, there’s a ”but.” The “but” in this sad story is that if I’m at my office, at my kid’s ballgame, or at the grocery store for a bag of ice, I can’t watch the game!

Unless I am at home, tethered to my WiFi network, I can’t stream my DirecTV feed to my iPad, and because of the Draconian MLB blackout policy, I can’t watch the Marlins via my premium MLB TV feed.

Seriously?

Can it be that complicated for MLB to cross-check my account to verify that I am paying some local TV provider for the privilege of watching their product? I understand the business reasons that necessitate MLB scratching DirecTV’s back. TV providers like Comcast, AT&T, and DirecTV are already feeling a helluva pinch from cable cutters, so they’re not about to give up the ad revenue from live sports telecasts, but since I’m paying for it, why continue to penalize me?

I live a busy, hectic life, and my schedule is pretty compressed.  It’s frustrating to be in a situation where I can catch a few innings of a ball game, only to be stymied by the blackout message. There is no financial reason to bar me from the telecast, as I’m paying for the privilege sixteen ways from Sunday.

Major League Baseball needs to ease the blackout restriction for their premium TV service for those fans that are willing to pay for both a live TV telecast, or for the MLB TV premium package.  They should either allow DirecTV/Comcast/AT&T to stream the telecast through their app, or figure out a way to verify that MLB TV premium subscribers also have an active TV subscription.

I’m not asking MLB to look at why Iowans can’t watch the Cubs, Brewers, Royals, Twins, Cardinals, or White Sox. That’s another argument that is being hashed out by lawyers. I’m just asking MLB to figure out a way to allow premium customers a way to be able to watch the product they’re shelling out a bunch of money to see.

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