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Jim Furtado
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Blackouts Newsbeat

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

MLB risks losing casual fans with shuffling streaming rights and TV blackouts

One of the first stories I planned to do when I started this job exactly a year ago was on the state of the MLB.tv blackouts. I put out a call on Twitter for testimonials of frustration and received over 100 detailed emails.

They were lashing out against the absurdities of certain far-ranging and overlapping blackouts that leave pockets of the country unable to watch as many as six different teams on the app, sometimes despite having no actual option to watch those teams on local cable. Or else they were lamenting the more intrinsic, common issue of wanting to cut the cable cord while continuing to watch their hometown team. Alienating people who have that kind of fervent eagerness to engage with baseball — specifically by preventing them from doing so — seemed like the epitome of MLB’s oft short-sighted self-sabotage. It felt urgent.

Here’s what happened to that story: Someone at actual Major League Baseball suggested I just get YouTube TV in addition to my MLB.tv subscription. I did that and it solved my personal problems with accessing almost every game for all 30 baseball teams. And so I didn’t write that story in part because the solution seemed simple enough but more honestly because, pretty quickly, the idea of not being able to consume enough baseball content seemed very far away from my life.

But now YouTube TV might not have Yankees games this year because it has been unable to reach an agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group, which last year purchased 21 regional sports networks (14 of which are the local outlet for MLB teams) and the right to control Yankees’ and Cubs’ distribution. YES Network’s website says it is “not optimistic” about its future on YouTube TV and suggests switching to a different streaming service. Probably that’s what I’ll do. Adding the $55 per month Hulu with Live TV to my growing collection of subscription streaming services. It’s a luxury and necessity of this particular job.

 

 

QLE Posted: March 03, 2020 at 12:51 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: blackouts, broadcasting, streaming

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Blue Jays games will be blacked out on MLB.TV in Canada

Canadian MLB.TV subscribers received an email yesterday that informed them that Blue Jays games will no longer be able to be streamed live on the league’s streaming service. Those wishing to stream Jays games will now need to subscribe to Sportsnet NOW, a streaming service provided by the broadcasting network that carries Jays games on television.

As Andrew Stoeten wrote in The Athletic, Canadian subscribers were unable to view the Jays live on MLB.TV until the mid 2010’s, when the restriction was lifted. MLB.TV subsequently became a popular purchase for Canadian fans.

Sportsnet is owned by Rogers Media, which also owns the Jays. Clearly this is meant to be a moneymaking opportunity for Rogers, but it’s remarkably shortsighted and petty.

Sportsnet NOW comes at a comparable price to MLB.TV, but it doesn’t carry the whole league. By encouraging fans to subscribe to MLB.TV. you also encourage them to check out baseball as a whole and grow love of the game. And for those fans who are already avid MLB.TV watchers and enjoy the full scope of baseball, they now have to shell out for a second streaming service that isn’t on as many devices as the app they already use.

A consideration of the issue of blackouts- I suppose I am fortunate in that the ones in my neck of the woods are reasonable.

 

QLE Posted: February 23, 2020 at 12:37 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: blackouts, blue jays, broadcasting, canada, mlb.tv

 

 

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