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Blackout Antitrust Case Against MLB Moves Forward


Eric

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This happened at the beginning of the month last month.

 

http://www.law360.com/articles/421444/no-timeout-in-nhl-mlb-antitrust-class-actions

 

Basically an antitrust case against both the NHL and MLB's blackout restrictions moves forward.  The lawsuit says that the sports are using archaic and monopolistic practices to restrict access to their product while using misleading advertising to make customers believe they are purchasing a product they are not getting.

 

For example, last season while the A's were in the midst of their winning streak, viewers within the A's Blackout restricted areas (not limited to the Bay Area, but including Nevada and Hawaii) were unable to tune into the A's/Blue Jays game despite it being 2,500 miles away because the A's local affiliate did not carry the game while the Blue Jay's feed did carry it.

 

Granted, Angels fans within the Blackout restricted areas don't feel the effect because the Angels have made a deal to carry all of the games on FSW, and as long as the TV Provider has FSW available as an option, they have access to it.  However, fans of opposing teams, such as Mets fans living in Las Vegas, who get the package in order to watch their team's every game, sometimes find themselves blacked out when they play the Giants, who have chosen that game to not carry.

 

Not only that, but local Casino's, who will continue to take action on the blacked out games, are unable to show those games due to the blackout restrictions.

 

Unfortunately, it is going to take something like a lawsuit to change the archaic blackout restrictions simply because the franchises that benefit most from these restrictions are those that are in the Las Vegas and Hawaii market.  Because these franchises claim these markets as "local", despite their admitted distance, the populations of those areas are included during TV negotiations.  In Las Vegas, the Dodgers, Angels, and Padres games are regularly carried, while the games of the A's, Giants, and Diamondbacks (teams that claim Las Vegas as a local market) do not regularly carry these games.  Therefore, theoretically, if the Angels and A's were to play a game together and only one team chose to carry that game, then those in the crossover "local" market would be unable to view the game because of the restrictions.

 

And all of this doesn't even get into the fact that despite the cost of the Extra Innings package being the same across the country, the total product provided is considerably less in these areas.  Same cost, less product.

 

Here's hoping that MLB and NHL pull their collective heads out and realize that they are being penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to their decisions regarding their blackout restrictions.  They are ONLY losing money in the long run by keeping these programs in place.

 

This is yet another reason why the NBA and NFL are more successful organizations than MLB and the NHL.  These organizations realized that the goal was allow their product to be in as many homes as possible, and not limit their fans from accessing their product.

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When I lived in Fresno I was really ticked off when the Angels played Oakland.  We were in an area considered to be Oak/SF so those games would be blacked out on MLB Extra Innings.  Problem was Oakland games were all broadcast on a local OTA Oakland channel that did not reach Fresno.

 

Yesterday, MLB Network was showing the Yu perfect game bid but we couldn't watch it here because they were supposed to be airing the Dodgers game.

 

Some how I was able to view it on the FS Texas channel with no blackout.

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there were 7 baseball games on yesterday, it was the 2nd day of the season, myself and 2 others tried to watch a game and not a single game was televised at any time.  that's one of the reasons why baseball is no longer the national past time. j

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They should just make it so that 50 mile radius of the teams stadium is considered local.  With how technology is now, it wouldn't be hard to break it down that way.  Where as when relying on over the air as the primary method of delivery, it wasn't possible.

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Exactly.  Another source of revenue that MLB is throwing away in their efforts to be penny wise and pound foolish.

 

You are not the only one.  In fact, I would even be willing to say that the MLB is losing millions in additional revenue from this decision.  It's not like it's that difficult to limit the feed to one system at a time, either.  That problem was solved years ago with those MMORPG games.  You couldn't sign into the same account on two different systems at the same time with that.  Same things here.  One system at a time.

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I get the local blackouts, I just don't get how they determine some of the territories.

Blackouts are something they have to throw the way of the RSNs in order to get those ridiculous contracts. Easy access to live sports will keep cable and satellite viable.

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Not sure I trust the accuracy of the original post entirely.

 

This isn't so much an active decision of MLB, as it is the result of years of rights negotiations and a system that was set up years before anyone had even dreamed of cable, let alone the internet.

 

They could come up with a better method, but the cat is already out of the bag. It's got to be a nightmare to convince teams and media conglomerates to give up rights they have had for years which they see as a safety blanket against the current upheaval in the media industry.

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Not sure I trust the accuracy of the original post entirely.

 

This isn't so much an active decision of MLB, as it is the result of years of rights negotiations and a system that was set up years before anyone had even dreamed of cable, let alone the internet.

 

They could come up with a better method, but the cat is already out of the bag. It's got to be a nightmare to convince teams and media conglomerates to give up rights they have had for years which they see as a safety blanket against the current upheaval in the media industry.

 

Condi's got a new hat!

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For those of you with a jailbroken iPhone or iPad and have mlb.tv, you can download an app called location spoofer and it'll fool the app. You can designate a location anywhere in the world and can bypass any blackouts. Been sweet watching the Angels on my phone while at work.

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Not sure I trust the accuracy of the original post entirely.

 

This isn't so much an active decision of MLB, as it is the result of years of rights negotiations and a system that was set up years before anyone had even dreamed of cable, let alone the internet.

 

They could come up with a better method, but the cat is already out of the bag. It's got to be a nightmare to convince teams and media conglomerates to give up rights they have had for years which they see as a safety blanket against the current upheaval in the media industry.

 

Trust the accuracy, don't trust the accuracy.  Your lack of trust does not alter the facts of the case.

 

As far as an "active decision" is concerned, every year this issue is brought before the owners, and each year the owners refuse to change the existing system, either by voting against changing the rules, or by actively NOT voting on a change to the existing rules.  Either way, they are making an active decision to keep the status quo.

 

Your last point is dead on.  Both the MLB owners as well as the Providers do not want the product proliferated through other means because they see altering the blackout restrictions as possibly interfering with their revenue stream.  But this issue is more of a concern to the providers than it is for the MLB owners.  It could be speculated that when TV Deals are made between Providers and MLB Clubs, that language is written into the contract that would make the deals null and void should MLB make changes to the existing Blackout Restriction Policy.  But those contracts are not made public, so that's entirely speculative.  But it does lend credence as to why Comcast and DirecTV were named in the lawsuit.

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I get the local blackouts, I just don't get how they determine some of the territories.

Blackouts are something they have to throw the way of the RSNs in order to get those ridiculous contracts. Easy access to live sports will keep cable and satellite viable.

Yeah, isn't Nevada (for instance) part of the SD/LA/SF markets as far as MLB is concerned? The ENTIRE state of Nevada? Hell, why not PHX for that matter?

 

Not to mention that for those games that Fox broadcasts on Saturdays, because they sometimes don't choose which game they televise in certain markets until that week, ALL of the day games are blacked out because Fox "owns" the broadcasting rights. This is simply ridiculous.

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For a lot of the young adults leaving home/school these days, they do not regularly purchase cable anymore. It's something like 30% that get Netflix and choose to never get cable. I'm one of those people; and I would definitely pay for MLB.tv if every game weren't blacked out. Total revenue loss for MLB there.

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Here in San Diego, I can watch the Lakers and Kings and Ducks but not the Dodgers or Angels unless they are on MLB Network or ESPN or WGN or Fox Saturday baseball.  They will black out both the Angels and Dodgers on FSW and PT.  Very frustrating. 

Ditto. NO FWS Angels broadcast. Ducks on the Padres channel only when there is no conflict. I tried the Hockey channel and Ducks were blacked out. Don't get PT at all.

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i've had the mlb app on my ipad/iphone for a little over one season, and one of the great things about it was being able to listen live to either team's radio broadcast. i never really tried but wonder if it's possible to also watch games with that app. anyone know?

 

they also give you lots of highlights that you can watch pretty quickly after the event happens.

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