I’ve written about this subject before, and will continue to write about it until something changes.
It’s a Saturday in late August, and my beloved Baltimore Orioles are in a tight playoff race. They are in the middle of a three game set with the scrappy Oakland A’s at home, who currently sit 2 games ahead of the Orioles in the Wild Card standings.
Both teams are similar, carrying a low payroll in relation to the big market teams and have young rising stars who have yet to see their first big long-term contract.
Overall, it’s a great match up that any baseball fan would love.
But I can’t watch the game.
I just moved to NYC, which puts me out of the Orioles’ market.
Since I don’t live in the Baltimore-Washington area, I subscribe to MLB.TV Premium. MLB.TV allows to me to watch any Orioles game on any device when they are not playing in the local market I am located in due to blackout restrictions.
I pay a hefty $19.99/month, but I’m a fan without a cable or satellite subscription so that’s the only option I have.
When I saw that the Orioles-Athletics first pitch is set for 4:05PM, I logged onto MLB.TV and saw this:
The Orioles-Athletics game is being televised “nationally” by FOX, therefore it’s blacked out on MLB.TV.
Okay, it’s being televised “nationally”, so I will just turn on my TV, go to a friend’s house, or a bar to watch the game. No big deal.
Not so fast. There are two other games being televised “nationally” at the same time. How will this work?
The FOX TV Coverage Map
I’m currently in New York, so let’s try to find a coverage map of where each game is being televised “nationally” this afternoon:
Uh oh, the Mets are also being televised by the MLB on FOX. Therefore, NYC and the greater part of their market is going to be shown their game. Oakland @ Baltimore is only going to be shown in the markets highlighted in green.
I can’t watch the game.
The MLB offers a service that I pay over $100 per season to compensate for the fact that I don’t live in my favorite team’s market. But on Saturday, FOX and the MLB have an agreement that any game they televise “nationally” will be blacked out on their service.
However, the games are not televised nationally. They are televised regionally. So if I’m not in the market where they decide to televise the game, I’m shit out of luck.
Why am I fan? Why do I even pay for the MLB’s overpriced service? For the love of the game I guess.
But I can’t watch the game, unless I break the law.
The only way I can watch the Orioles game today is via the plethora of websites that are carrying illegal live streams of the game.
These are individuals and groups, mostly European, who are broadcasting live streams of their MLB.TV account to other fans who can’t watch the game either. They are not in the United States, to domestic blackout restrictions don’t apply.
This means that I’m forced to break the law and watch a live stream through another live stream, leaving the quality pixelated and choppy. But I’ll deal with it to watch my team.
Forcing A Fan To Break The Law
The MLB and FOX have put me in a position where the only way I can be a fan and watch my team is illegal.
I pay for a service that I can’t use in MLB.TV because my team is contending, and their games get picked up by the awful MLB on FOX Saturday broadcasts.
How is this right? How is this fair?
It is because the fans have no power. The fans have no say. The game is to good too boycott or leave. We are slaves to the game, and the MLB and FOX are making millions of dollars from our captivity.
I am a fan that is willing to pay to watch my team play, but these corporations have set up a system that makes it impossible for me to do so.
Maybe my elected government represenatives can do something? Fat chance.