Sunday, April 10, 2016
Columnist Has Had It with Blackout: 'Major League Money Grab Keeps Hawaii Fans in Dark'
Why the Minnesota Twins didn’t jump on this multi-time-zone money grab isn’t known.
That doesn’t mean that any of them will actually play any games on our shores, you understand. It just means that fans must ante up for regional TV packages serving (and enriching) those teams if they are to watch them outside of national TV games. And, even then, as was demonstrated by the blacking out of ESPN’s Dodgers-Padres season opener, MLB can kidnap a designated number of so-called national broadcasts.
Hawaii is among the most aggrieved markets in the nation on this score. Only Las Vegas, which is staked by the Arizona Diamondbacks in addition to the five teams that claim Hawaii, has more teams attempting to pick its pockets at one time.
Parts of Iowa are claimed by the Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Twins, Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers.
The impact is that on some days, as local fans noted on Monday’s openers, you could click on one game to find it was blacked out and then flip to another channel to find a similar message. “Based on trying to watch various games on Sunday and (Monday), seems like a carbon copy of last year’s situation so far,” said Honolulu fan Phil Kinnicutt.
So you know just whose TV colony you are, MLB has a place on its website where you can type in your zip code and find a listing of the teams you will be required to pay for.
MLB’s policy states, “home television territory 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 television territory.”
This form of hijacking has been going on for more than five years, but this year is the most egregious coming after the settlement of a court case that had the potential to blow up the whole model.
Not long after MLB instituted its territorial blackout policy it became the subject of a federal antitrust class action suit, Garber v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, challenging some of its broadcast policies.
But minutes before the trial was to begin on the lawsuit in January, MLB and the plaintiffs announced a settlement agreement. The deal had some rewards for fans in terms of pricing but did little for those of us in the far-flung TV territories.
Another season but same old baseball avarice.