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Monday, July 18, 2022

Rob Manfred calls eliminating blackouts a “massive undertaking,” will require “fundamental reordering” of media rights

Prior to Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles, Manfred spoke to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times about a variety of issues, including blackouts.

While Manfred didn’t go deep into details, he said the league office was spending the most time on eliminating blackouts out of any project on the docket, and yes, it is as complicated as it seems.

Q: Let’s say I am a fan who can’t get to the ballpark, and I want to do one thing: I want to watch whatever game I want, wherever I live and I don’t want to get a headache trying to figure out which channel or streaming service has the game I want to watch on any given night. I will happily pay you for this. Can you explain to me how soon I might be able to do that, and what has to happen between then and now?

Manfred: You certainly have the right person as commissioner of baseball because, if there is one thing I could wish for, more than anything else, it would be the ability to give our fans that frictionless experience of being able to watch what they want to watch, where they want to watch. There is no project that we are spending more time on in the central office than trying to achieve the goal you just articulated.

Q: So what has to happen?

Manfred: There is a lot of wood to chop. It is going to involve fundamental reordering of the control of rights in the industry. It is going to involve conversations with our partners in the broadcast space, including RSNs (regional sports networks like SportsNet LA and Bally Sports West) and distributors. It is a massive undertaking, which is the bad news.

I think the good news is, there is a realization in the industry that, in order for this business to be all it can be, we need to undertake an effort to get as close to the model you are talking about as possible.

As for a timeframe, think less than a decade (which still won’t please fans, but hey, there are 30 teams, several RSN-operating companies, and oodles of cable, satellite, and streaming carriers to contend with).

Q: Is that a five-year project? A 10-year project?

Manfred: It will not be a 10. It is going to happen sooner than that.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 18, 2022 at 11:30 PM | 63 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: blackouts

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   1. John Reynard Posted: July 19, 2022 at 02:22 AM (#6087317)
If he manages to do this without making the streaming package you'd have to buy to watch any game any time, no blackouts super-super-expensive, I'd be thrilled. I'm highly skeptical this can happen given the amount of money involved. I've been happy to pay for MLB.TV access. But, its lacking since I can't watch my home team and random games are missing all the time (on ESPN, on FOX, or whatever).
   2. zenstudent Posted: July 19, 2022 at 07:27 AM (#6087326)
If he manages to do this without making the streaming package you'd have to buy to watch any game any time, no blackouts super-super-expensive, I'd be thrilled. I'm highly skeptical this can happen given the amount of money involved. I've been happy to pay for MLB.TV access. But, its lacking since I can't watch my home team and random games are missing all the time (on ESPN, on FOX, or whatever).


Try living in Iowa. It's not just the home team--Cubs. I can't watch any game involving the Cardinals, White Sox, Royals, Brewers, or Twins either and Marquee's rate is a joke.
   3. sanny manguillen Posted: July 19, 2022 at 08:49 AM (#6087329)
Here's a suggestion: have a steeply discounted plan just for archive games - no live games at all. I'm willing to tune in my blacked-out team's game the next morning, but not at full price.

Mlb.tv has not responded to this suggestion.
   4. Lassus Posted: July 19, 2022 at 09:17 AM (#6087333)
Mlb.tv has not responded to this suggestion.

I worked at MLBAM for the 2008-2010 seasons. They are one of the most massively insular, incestual, unconcerned operations I've ever been at, and I have a hard time believing it's gotten any better.
   5. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: July 19, 2022 at 09:39 AM (#6087336)
I've been happy to pay for MLB.TV access. But, its lacking since I can't watch my home team and random games are missing all the time (on ESPN, on FOX, or whatever).


MLB.tv is wonderful. Missing the local team doesn't bother me all that much, but the random national broadcast blackouts sure are annoying.

Also, in case anyone doesn't know, if you've got T-Mobile you can get MLB.tv for free. You have to do it through their T-Mobile Tuesdays app, and you've got a limited window in which to do it (usually a week or so before the seasons starts), but it really is totally free. They should publicize this more, since it's a great perk.
   6. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: July 19, 2022 at 09:45 AM (#6087337)
The tl;dr version of all this is that blackouts aren't going anywhere until Comcast finally dies.
   7. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: July 19, 2022 at 10:33 AM (#6087347)
Manfred: There is a lot of wood to chop.

As a Football Outsiders lurker, Keep Choppin' Wood is an apt description of Manfred's ruinous reign of error.
   8. Lassus Posted: July 19, 2022 at 11:13 AM (#6087354)
Try living in Iowa. It's not just the home team--Cubs. I can't watch any game involving the Cardinals, White Sox, Royals, Brewers, or Twins either and Marquee's rate is a joke.

I can't get the Mets, and Citifield is a four and a half hour drive.
   9. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 19, 2022 at 11:16 AM (#6087356)
I've mentioned this before, but a couple of months ago I signed up with a fairly new company out here in the Mountain West where you rent a super-antenna for $25 a month, and it hauls in all the sports channels in the area, including the RSN that carries the Rockies games. I'm sure this is violating all kinds of rights agreements, and I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing falls apart at some point, but for the moment it works extremely well.
   10. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 19, 2022 at 12:02 PM (#6087363)
Jesus, doesn't anyone have cable or satellite anymore? The only games I haven't been able to watch on TV this year are those stupid 11:00 Sunday morning games on Peacock TV.
   11. Mr. Hotfoot Jackson (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: July 19, 2022 at 12:05 PM (#6087364)
Only the dodderingly decrepit, it appears.

(I would categorize myself as increasingly decrepit by the day. Doddering, not so much. Offhand, I'm not sure how to dodder, so maybe I'm just not recognizing it in myself.)
   12. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: July 19, 2022 at 12:31 PM (#6087373)
I'm still on DirecTV. Mrs. PRD and I don't watch much TV in the first place, certainly not enough to spend time and energy on trying to figure out which combination of streaming options minimizes our spending on TV. As it is, we have no use for Hulu, Netflix, HBO, or anything ending in a + sign. I quit watching the contemporary game a few years ago too and don't miss MLB Network or live games.
   13. greenback needs a ride, not ammo Posted: July 19, 2022 at 12:47 PM (#6087377)
How can satellite still be a thing? If you're like gef, and live in ########, Arkansas, then maybe there's a use case. But I don't see how such a service can be commercially viable serving mainly the poorest parts of the country.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 19, 2022 at 12:56 PM (#6087379)
How can satellite still be a thing? If you're like gef, and live in ########, Arkansas, then maybe there's a use case. But I don't see how such a service can be commercially viable serving mainly the poorest parts of the country.

It's cheaper than cable.
   15. pthomas Posted: July 19, 2022 at 01:37 PM (#6087386)


If you're playing a poker game and you look around the table and and can't tell who the sucker is, it's you.

Paul Newman
If you are still paying a cable or streaming bill, you are the sucker. The owners/broadcasters have no need to change anything. Except for the drapes on their new pool house on their third home.
   16. Mr. Hotfoot Jackson (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: July 19, 2022 at 01:39 PM (#6087389)
########, Arkansas


That's ########, Alabama, sir. ########, Arkansas, is where I'm from.
   17. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 19, 2022 at 01:42 PM (#6087390)
I can't get the Mets, and Citifield is a four and a half hour drive.
But aren’t they available on cable throughout New York State? IIRC, in the Iowa situation, many of the teams that are blacked out there aren’t otherwise available on cable, or over-the-air broadcasts. That seems much worse.
   18. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 19, 2022 at 01:56 PM (#6087394)
If you are still paying a cable or streaming bill, you are the sucker.

Right, I pay the grand total of about $7.00 a day for high speed internet, a phone, and too many HD channels to count, including HBO and the Extra Innings package that includes every game of the season except the few on Peacock TV, whatever that is. I can think of many things in the world to complain about, but that ain't one of them.
   19. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: July 19, 2022 at 02:25 PM (#6087397)
I can't get the Mets, and Citifield is a four and a half hour drive.
Invest a few shekels in Fubo.TV and you'll receive all of the SNY games on the TV/laptop/smartphone *plus* gain access to the ones on WPIX via the SNY app.
   20. Perry Posted: July 19, 2022 at 04:20 PM (#6087406)
How can satellite still be a thing? If you're like gef, and live in ########, Arkansas, then maybe there's a use case. But I don't see how such a service can be commercially viable serving mainly the poorest parts of the country.


I live on the Front Range 30 miles from Denver and still have DirecTV. I signed up when they were the only carrier with Extra Innings and have never left. It's pricey, and partly I've stayed out of inertia, but on the other hand I've been able to watch the Nuggets and Rapids (and Avs if I cared to) the last 3 years while the cable customers in CO have been shut out in a long-running dispute over carrier costs.
   21. John Reynard Posted: July 19, 2022 at 04:22 PM (#6087407)
How can satellite still be a thing? If you're like gef, and live in ########, Arkansas, then maybe there's a use case. But I don't see how such a service can be commercially viable serving mainly the poorest parts of the country.

It's cheaper than cable.


Yes, I live in the edge of rust-belt PA, near Allentown, and the poorest folks here have Direct TV. Some of the landlords even pitch having the equipment set up and everything for them as a perk.

So, even here on the edge of Megalopolis, its serving the same people.

Price matters sometimes.
   22. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 19, 2022 at 04:39 PM (#6087408)
I've been able to watch the Nuggets and Rapids (and Avs if I cared to) the last 3 years while the cable customers in CO have been shut out in a long-running dispute over carrier costs.


All this is available on the Evoca TV setup I now have.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: July 19, 2022 at 05:31 PM (#6087417)
I'm telling you, the cheapest and most efficient solution is to move to NZ, Australia, the UK or any other ferrin land where you speak something resembling the local lingo (exc Canada) and you can get every game via streaming except those f'ing Peacock ones. Of course you may have to retire or take a night job or (the other direction) watch in the wee hours if you want to watch the games.

I know, I know ... family, jobs, the lack of anything any half-sentient person would call Mexican food ... but, as Rob Mafred will point out, it's a small price to pay for your love of baseball.
   24. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: July 19, 2022 at 05:49 PM (#6087419)
There's a cheaper and more efficient way to... how to delicately put this... locate yourself in New Zealand without actually, y'know, going to New Zealand, in the physical sense.
   25. Perry Posted: July 19, 2022 at 06:13 PM (#6087420)
All this is available on the Evoca TV setup I now have.


I know, and I've heard good things about it (not just from you), but I'd still want the EI package for the Cardinals. And I'm a TCM addict. So if I dropped satellite I'd still need some combo of streaming setups. Would save me money but add complication, so I just carry on out of inertia. :-)
   26. The Duke Posted: July 19, 2022 at 07:40 PM (#6087427)
11. If you shuffle like joe Biden and try to shake hands of imaginary friends then you are doddering and decrepit. The old man shuffle indicates you are on your way out.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: July 19, 2022 at 07:41 PM (#6087428)
#24 ... MLB seems to disrupt this as much as possible. Earlier in the season, I was watching via Australia (for other reasons of convenience) but last I checked that no longer worked. Perhaps your experience has been different.
   28. bigglou115 is not an Illuminati agent Posted: July 19, 2022 at 08:45 PM (#6087435)
@13, I lived in Rover, Arkansas, which is backwoods hill country even for Arkansas. We got AT&T fiber.
   29. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: July 20, 2022 at 03:57 AM (#6087464)
Let's play this out. Besides the profits and payroll, the current system provides YES with the resources to produce and broadcast the games. Unless MLB.tv can provide YES with more or less the same revenue as they're used to in a cable universe, the product is going to suffer. The product which MLB.tv would be selling to consumers.

I think it's gonna happen, but be very expensive.
   30. John Reynard Posted: July 20, 2022 at 04:26 AM (#6087465)
Wait, I have a property on St. Helena in the S. Atlantic. Are you telling me Walt that if I set my MLB.TV as on there and watched from my security camera in the living room, on my TV at home (I might install a better camera), I'd have no blackouts?

No need to spoof the stuff if you actually have an overseas property and can look at the livingroom at will, right? I guess I might have to figure out how to get the TV on how I want it there. But, that can't be that hard.
   31. Srul Itza Posted: July 20, 2022 at 01:16 PM (#6087492)
I get blacked out of the Angels, Athletics, Giants, Dodgers and Padres -- and Honolulu is a five hour FLIGHT from anywhere.
   32. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 20, 2022 at 01:32 PM (#6087493)
A quick question that often gets overlooked in a discussion like this:

What exactly is the product you, as an outlier who follows baseball more closely than 99% of people, are seeking?

Specifically, nobody here actually wants to watch every game (either live or after the fact) - you couldn't watch every game. But you clearly want to watch a more diverse array of baseball games than you easily can right now, right? So what kind of games are you hoping to be able to watch more of, or more easily? Is it specific games when certain stars are pitching? Is it your favorite team's chief rival? Is it directly related to gambling and/or fantasy sports? Is it the idea that you can sit down at night to relax, see what games are on, and just watch whatever the most interesting game(s) to you are that night?
   33. greenback needs a ride, not ammo Posted: July 20, 2022 at 03:39 PM (#6087510)
Let's play this out. Besides the profits and payroll, the current system provides YES with the resources to produce and broadcast the games. Unless MLB.tv can provide YES with more or less the same revenue as they're used to in a cable universe, the product is going to suffer. The product which MLB.tv would be selling to consumers.

I think it's gonna happen, but be very expensive.

This weird exclusivity arrangement is expensive now. I have to pay $50 per month for a full cable package to watch Reds games live, but for $130 per year I can watch most games live that 27 other teams play (and if I know how to mess with VPNs, I may be able to get those Reds games anyway). It's fair to say we can expect to pay more for mlb.tv in the new world order, that mlb.tv essentially has been subsidized by cable subscribers, but it's also hard to believe that cutting out Comcast is going to hurt overall costs.
   34. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 20, 2022 at 04:18 PM (#6087512)
The cable companies pay big bucks for exclusive rights to broadcasts in the local market area. They might pay a bit more if they can can also stream the local team’s games, but probably a lot less if someone else is streaming those games.

For those properly located, this is the golden era of MLB on TV. You get the local team on cable, with national games on ESPN or Fox, and most other games via Extra Innings or MLB.TV. In Northern Virginia, I can get almost all the Yankees games, the Nationals (and Orioles) on MASN, plus the national TV games, and a few more if I want to bother with Prime or other streaming options. Thats a lot of baseball! That’s not free, of course, but the price isn’t exorbitant, IMHO. Extra Innings is only ~ 180 a year for thousands of games. Not nearly as good a deal in Iowa & a few other places, but a partial fix would be for MLB to not allow blackouts where the games aren’t actually available.
   35. Walt Davis Posted: July 20, 2022 at 07:27 PM (#6087536)
#32 ... the primary product people want is (a) the ability to watch their local games on any device (b) for less money than they are currently paying or, more precisely, they'd like to pay for a baseball/sports-only package without having to pay for the rest of the cable provider services.

Over the last several years, the "compromise" has been that the RSN offers a streaming service but you can only access it with a cable subscription. Recently Sinclair/Bally has begun offering RSN streaming direct in some markets (not the big ones). I assume that will become standard and this is at least pretty close to what people say they want -- the question becoming how much are people actually willing to pay for this.

It is only a tiny portion of fans of the local team that also want to regularly watch out-of-market games. And unless you're in Honolulu (that's hilarious) or Vegas or Iowa or some other wasteland that is for some reason part of the "local market" for 5+ teams, watching out-of-market games is easy (Extra Innings/MLBtv) but too expensive if it's something you'd only do now and then. One season of MLBtv costs about the same as a full year of Netflix or Disney -- are you going to watch enough hours of MLBtv without your local team to make that worthwhile?

Without the local team, the main attraction of MLBtv is if you are a transplant from somewhere else. For Cub fans living in Arizona, that used to just mean hoping your cable company carried WGN, now you have to buy MLBtv but it's still just as easy to get those games.

There are "straightforward" solutions -- straightforward in the sense that it's easy to see how it would work, not in the sense that it wouldn't be tied up in court for years or cost some actors billions. One simple approach is that MLBtv goes fully national with a package of "pay $120 a year for streaming to the games for a team of your choice, add all other teams for an extra $30 per year." MLBtv then gives (the vast majority of) the net revenue of the $120 from folks who chose the Yankees as their main team to the Yankees while spreading the profit from the $30 bits equally. (Or maybe it's easier to take the revenue sharing cut upfront?)

The problem with that solution is that the RSNs paying tens and hundreds of millions for the local rights will lose a very large number of their customers and the cable companies will no longer want to pay them such lavish licensing fees. To handle that, teams presumably would need to send a large chunk of the money they get from MLBtv to the RSNs as compensation or at least allow the RSNs to renegotiate their existing deals. From a team's perspective, as long as total revenue from MLBtv and the RSNs is equal or greater than the current RSN contract, fine with them.

The long-term RSN deals obviously make this very sticky. Unless there's already been an alteration, the Dodgers TV contract runs through 2038. I don't know what the contract language says but MLBtv was long-established by 2013 when the contract was negotiated so presumably Time Warner (as it was then) made certain that they held exclusive local rights across all "broadcast" media. They are not just going to cede the streaming rights to MLBtv becasue it's more convenient for fans.

#30 ... You might try subscribing to MLBtv using your St Helena address then using a VPN to route your feed through St Helena. Or as suggested, maybe all you need is the VPN then watch from Luxembourg if you want.

Somebody said something about figuring out VPNs ... it's easy. Find a recent review in one of the online computing mags (google) of the top 5 VPNs to make sure you're dealing with a reasonably reputable company. (I use Proton, I have previously used Express ... I got them primarily because they offer me a false sense of internet privacy, not to get around streaming licensing rights -- i.e. 99% of the time, I'm still routing through NZ -- but when in intenet Rome ...) Then you pay them a subscription, download the software, turn it on, then there will be a menu where you can select which country to use. That takes, what, 5 minutes to set up? Set it so it automatically loads whenever you reboot.

The main difficulty is probably if you work remotely and your company routes you through their VPN provider to keep their communications secure. Then you may run into problems connecting to your company but then turn off your VPN when you're working; turn it on and your company's off when you're not working. Always worked for me. The other issue is that of course the big streamers know people are doing this and will try to track ISP addresses owned by VPNs or maybe flag you if an hour ago you connected from Ireland and now you're connecting from Australia. So if for some reason you are bouncing around a lot to avoid various licensing restrictions -- well, presumably you already know about VPNs.

Now if you want to be an evil international terrorist on a TV show and route your signal through 37 countries and 1,247 ISPs so it takes NCIS (or Disney) 10 extra minutes of TV time to find you in your mom's basement, you'll have to learn a lot more about how VPNs and ISPs work.

EDIT: Succinct version of the last few paragraphs ... setting up a VPN and re-routing your connection is no more difficult than setting up MLBtv and selecting what game you want to watch.
   36. Dan Evensen Posted: July 20, 2022 at 09:43 PM (#6087546)
I'm surprised that anyone pays for television these days.

Pirated streams abound, and are of high quality – in fact, I've found them to sometimes be more stable than the official streams. A VPN helps, naturally, but you can get by without one – in fact, uBlock Origins is the most essential ingredient, or a Pihole if you'd rather watch on something other than a computer. Not only can you find streams via a simple search, but you can also find multiple websites that host archived copies of games. It's not even necessary to torrent anymore, though there are numerous trackers (both public and private) that cater to sports fans. And we haven't even started talking about the wonder that is Usenet.

If you really feel nervous about streams that go down or cut out in the middle of games, there are dozens – if not hundreds – of IPTV services to choose from. Most offer over 20,000 channels from around the world for a fee much smaller than what you would pay for MLB.TV alone. Some also offer on-demand shows and movies in addition to live streaming – assuming that you don't already have your own NAS Plex server set up, of course.

We live in the golden age of piracy. Rob Manfred and the powers that be need to understand that the longer these media blackout rules stay around, the more people will start sailing the high seas. Yes, you could wait "less than 10 years" for the powers that be to solve a problem we were complaining about 20 years ago. Or you could look around a little bit, find where the services are, and watch whatever you want.

Of course, he should be much more worried about baseball's steadily declining viewership. I noticed that the All Star Game thread the other day was almost completely silent. I shouldn't complain, though – I didn't watch the game at all, and likely won't watch any more games until the TTO problems are finally addressed. Sports viewing is a habit, one that is hard to pick up again once it is broken. Once you discover how much time and money you've thrown at something that isn't entertaining anymore, it's kind of hard to want to invest more.
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 20, 2022 at 10:13 PM (#6087548)
We live in the golden age of piracy.

Some people don't believe that's ethical and/or moral.
   38. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 20, 2022 at 11:39 PM (#6087555)
For those properly located, this is the golden era of MLB on TV.


The golden era of MLB on TV was when I got virtually all the Cubs games, virtually all the Braves games, a bunch of Mets games and a couple of games a week on ESPN, for a fairly modest cable fee.
   39. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: July 21, 2022 at 01:32 AM (#6087563)
We live in the golden age of piracy.


They don't pay me the big bucks around here to be a scold, but pirating video is just like shoplifting. You can justify to yourself that you're Robin Hood, stealing from the rich. But there are a lot of middle-class folk working in production or distribution that you're not paying for their work.
   40. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: July 21, 2022 at 01:58 AM (#6087564)
The golden era of MLB on TV was when I got virtually all the Cubs games, virtually all the Braves games, a bunch of Mets games and a couple of games a week on ESPN, for a fairly modest cable fee.


Lot of "golden eras" in this thread.

Agree with Tom. But I'll go back even further. When I was a kid, Yankee games were on free TV. You buy a damned TV, point the rabbit ears at the ceiling, and no monthly bill. None. You just had to deal with "Money Store" commercials.
   41. Dolf Lucky Posted: July 21, 2022 at 07:50 AM (#6087572)
How much of my monthly cable bill goes to paying the local RSNs? A dollar? Maybe two?

Wouldn’t the blackout solution be as simple as:

- Order the standard MLB TV package with blackouts for $130 or whatever.
- Order the enhanced “no blackout” package that covers the applicable RSN fees. I live in CT so I have three blackout teams. So 3 x 12 months x $1 = $36 extra dollars?

Why is that so hard so as to take 5 to 10 years?
   42. Dolf Lucky Posted: July 21, 2022 at 07:54 AM (#6087573)
And yes, I pay for cable.

I’ve been through the cord cutting routine. It was no longer worth any theoretical savings to stay on top of which streaming service carries which channels. I want simplicity and I want to be able watch certain games if the mood strikes. Cable is still the best and cheapest option for that, since it’s bundled with internet service.
   43. Greg Pope Posted: July 21, 2022 at 09:42 AM (#6087583)
How much of my monthly cable bill goes to paying the local RSNs? A dollar? Maybe two?

DirecTV wants to charge me $7 per month to move up to the tier that has the Cubs RSN (Marquee sports). However, it also contains another RSN that has (I think) White Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks games. So Marquee can't possibly be making more than a couple of dollars from each subscription. I suppose that DirecTV may be paying them some extra money over and above that since they get more subscribers.

And yet, when it leaked that they were considering a stand alone streaming option, it was going to be for $18 per month. Do they have to cut in DirecTV or something? I'd gladly pay directly pay Marquee the $7 per month that DirecTV wants.
   44. tonywagner Posted: July 21, 2022 at 10:10 AM (#6087590)
Dolf & Greg:

While the RSN fee for your TV provider may only be a few dollars a month, keep in mind that's being charged for many customers who don't care about the RSN (or wouldn't subscribe to it standalone, in any case). Those other customers are subsidizing your RSN fee, keeping it relatively low.

That's why direct RSN subscriptions cost more.
   45. base ball chick Posted: July 21, 2022 at 11:47 AM (#6087599)
us folks here iz hardcore fans. or at least we used to be.

i KNOW i been bytching about the blackout stuff for well since mah kidz born. at least. about stuff like - in a large part of tejas, you can live in a city where the RSN does NOT show the astros and you are stuck if they are y0ur team. removes fans. but mlb don't care and i am not a person who understands how this money stuff works but it sure seems to me that there could be a streaming purchase option to let you watch blackout games that would pay the rsn that is not available as well as pay MLB.

they haven't done it because they have not HAD to

but between them making baseball more boring and games too dammmm long, welp, unless the accountants have figured tht all the gambling $$$ gonna make up for all the missing fans, they won't do nothin

i never thuoght the time would come when i couldn't be bothered to watch the ASG but, well, here we are

as for going to a game - with tix over 25 smackers for lousy seats, just nope. an im not gonna be buying food or beer neither
   46. Dolf Lucky Posted: July 21, 2022 at 12:11 PM (#6087604)
While the RSN fee for your TV provider may only be a few dollars a month, keep in mind that's being charged for many customers who don't care about the RSN (or wouldn't subscribe to it standalone, in any case). Those other customers are subsidizing your RSN fee, keeping it relatively low.

That's why direct RSN subscriptions cost more.


Understood. But those non-caring customers, they're irrelevant to the equation, no? They will still be cable subscribers regardless of how MLB TV changes. The ones who want the improved/expanded MLB TV will be in one of three groups:

1) They currently have cable, drop cable, and buy the upgraded MLB TV package. Either way, the RSN is indifferent.
2) They currently do not have cable (or a cable equivalent) and buy the upgraded MLB TV package. The RSN is net positive here.
3) They currently have cable, keep cable, and buy the upgraded MLB TV package. The RSN is net positive again.

There's no reason for the direct RSN sub to cost more.
   47. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 21, 2022 at 12:44 PM (#6087606)
But I'll go back even further. When I was a kid, Yankee games were on free TV. You buy a damned TV, point the rabbit ears at the ceiling, and no monthly bill. None. You just had to deal with "Money Store" commercials.
That was a very good deal for those in the NYC TV market, and perhaps even for those in upstate NY who had early cable systems that included WPIX, but that left a lot of people out. The options are vastly better today, especially for those outside the normal viewing area of their favorite team, with the previously-mentioned limitations like blackout-hell Iowa. The country is also much wealthier now.
   48. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 21, 2022 at 01:06 PM (#6087615)
The options are vastly better today, especially for those outside the normal viewing area of their favorite team,


I would say the options are vastly better today ONLY for those outside the normal viewing area of their favorite team.
   49. tonywagner Posted: July 21, 2022 at 03:44 PM (#6087647)
Understood. But those non-caring customers, they're irrelevant to the equation, no? They will still be cable subscribers regardless of how MLB TV changes. The ones who want the improved/expanded MLB TV will be in one of three groups:

1) They currently have cable, drop cable, and buy the upgraded MLB TV package. Either way, the RSN is indifferent.
2) They currently do not have cable (or a cable equivalent) and buy the upgraded MLB TV package. The RSN is net positive here.
3) They currently have cable, keep cable, and buy the upgraded MLB TV package. The RSN is net positive again.

There's no reason for the direct RSN sub to cost more.


I'm no economist, but my understanding is that TV providers (cable, satellite, YouTube TV, etc.) would demand a much lower carriage fee if the network itself enters the marketplace in direct competition with them. Or they'd just drop the network altogether (as some have already done). So RSNs would lose a lot more than just the carriage fee from X number of cable subscribers.

If what you are describing was true, then any network -- even non-sports -- could go direct-to-consumer for something close to their cable/satellite carriage fee. Has any network done so? Every example I've seen is $15+/month (or for cheaper networks, bundled in a $25+/month package).

   50. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: July 21, 2022 at 03:57 PM (#6087651)
i never thuoght the time would come when i couldn't be bothered to watch the ASG but, well, here we are

Me either. Ten years ago, I would've thought the only thing that would keep me from watching baseball was global nuclear armageddon. That may not have come to pass (yet) but it's an apt description of what the leadership of Rob Manfred has done to MLB, and, well, here we are.
   51. tonywagner Posted: July 21, 2022 at 04:04 PM (#6087653)
I would say the options are vastly better today ONLY for those outside the normal viewing area of their favorite team.


Depends on the area, and the era. Weren't most broadcast schedules relatively sparse back in the "free TV" days?

Only 81 games, half of the scheduled 162 games, were televised. - from Vintage 1978 Yankees Schedule Including Ticket Prices And Other Surprises
   52. tonywagner Posted: July 21, 2022 at 04:16 PM (#6087656)
All this is available on the Evoca TV setup I now have.


Tom -- that's interesting! I had heard of Evoca (based out of Boise, Idaho) because I think they are the first pay TV provider using the new ATSC 3.0 over-the-air broadcast standard. I didn't realize they had a major RSN in Colorado now!

Looking at their channel lineup, I see the two RSNs and NFL Network, plus a bunch of free OTA networks and cable filler, all for $25. Given the low value of the non-RSN channels, it's probably fairly comparable to the $15-30 direct RSN offerings available now. Either option would be something I'd consider, if it came to my area.
   53. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 21, 2022 at 04:34 PM (#6087662)
I had heard of Evoca (based out of Boise, Idaho) because I think they are the first pay TV provider using the new ATSC 3.0 over-the-air broadcast standard.


Do you know if there are any legal ramifications for this? I'm not paying a penny in rights fees to anyone. As Perry noted above, there is a huge battle going on between several of the teams out here and the cable/satellite providers over rights fees, so this arrangement seems like a way to make a lot of people unhappy.
   54. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: July 21, 2022 at 05:06 PM (#6087669)
I can't get the Mets, and Citifield is a four and a half hour drive.


I'm blacked out from Reds games and I'm 6.5 hours from GAB. Needless to say, no one here has any interest in the Reds, and the Reds have 0 broadcast footprint. I don't care about the Reds, only in so far I'm blacked out from watching my teams when they play them.
   55. Walt Davis Posted: July 21, 2022 at 05:42 PM (#6087679)
To be fair, blackouts, the demise of baseball on free TV, etc. long pre-dated Manfred. He has done little/nothing to solve the problems but he didn't create them. I'll agree his 10 year timeline is ridiculous -- the issues aren't THAT complicated and in 10 years it will probably be too late to solve them. That there have been periods when Dodger games weren't available for much of LA, etc. makes it clear this is an issue that needs solving soon.

And as noted, these problems have been apparent for a long time. Some don't have easy solutions, some have awkward solutions imposed (local streaming rights in a global, on-demand internet world?) but there's no excuse not to have been sorting this out for at least 15 years. I guess everybody tends to put their head in the sand when the money is flowing in.
   56. tonywagner Posted: July 21, 2022 at 05:50 PM (#6087683)
Do you know if there are any legal ramifications for this? I'm not paying a penny in rights fees to anyone.

As far as I know, Evoca is on the up-and-up. I suspect that they are paying nothing for the OTA channels and the cable filler, so the bulk of your $25 probably goes to the two RSNs and NFL Network, which seems in line with other offerings.
   57. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 21, 2022 at 06:37 PM (#6087690)
Canadians are blacked out from all Blue Jays games unless they have the Rogers Sportsnet channels, or pay for the Rogers SportsNetNow app (which seems to be really buggy).

That means people 3 times zones away are blacked out on MLB.TV
   58. Dolf Lucky Posted: July 21, 2022 at 06:46 PM (#6087691)

If what you are describing was true, then any network -- even non-sports -- could go direct-to-consumer for something close to their cable/satellite carriage fee. Has any network done so? Every example I've seen is $15+/month (or for cheaper networks, bundled in a $25+/month package).


I don’t think that’s what I’m suggesting though. This wouldn’t be full access direct to consumer service. It would be baseball games only through the MLB TV platform only.

Said differently, I pay $20 a month (roughly) for access to baseball games shown on 27 RSNs (all but Boston and NY).

Why would adding one or two more RSNs change the calculus dramatically?
   59. tonywagner Posted: July 21, 2022 at 08:56 PM (#6087708)
Why would adding one or two more RSNs change the calculus dramatically?

Because it is local — that is where the demand is, where the RSN rights are, and where the competition would be.
   60. Dolf Lucky Posted: July 21, 2022 at 09:46 PM (#6087716)
Right, but back to the scenarios in #46…I don’t see why the local RSN option would cannibalize the cable carrier subscriptions.
   61. Jay Seaver Posted: July 22, 2022 at 09:57 AM (#6087760)
60 - I suspect a big part of it is that everybody involved is somewhat reasonably cautious about upsetting known revenue streams. The folks at the RSN can probably look at their ratings and see that they're getting carriage fees from twenty times as many people actually watch their station in a month, and part of the reason that they get those carriage fees is that they are not competing with the cable companies directly. And while the cable company may want to pay lower fees, they probably don't want to get into an ugly situation where they can't make a deal at all and can't advertise that local sports are part of their package.

The system's probably close to its breaking point in a lot of markets, but I kind of figure that neither RSN or carrier is particularly eager to find out what's on the other side in a lot of cases.
   62. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: July 22, 2022 at 11:28 AM (#6087770)
I think the problem is worse than reported. How much of the attendance is really unused season tickets that will not be renewed next year? Another problem is that MLB is largely forgotten in a sports narrative dominated by the NFL and NBA, even during their offseasons.
   63. Ron J Posted: July 22, 2022 at 12:19 PM (#6087777)
Well I think MLB's issue might be that some people got out of the habit of attending during the pandemic and a certain percentage may not return (or at least not quickly). I think 2023 will tell us a lot more.

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