The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

MLB national blackouts are not going away

One of the things I find most deplorable about Major League Baseball is its blackout policies. Its origins are set deep into the financial structure of the television contracts at the national and regional levels and for that reason, fans have no choice but to live with it.

From the viewer’s perspective, the rules are confusing and frustrating. At its essence, the national situation is this. During the times when games are covered by FOX Network on Saturday and ESPN on Sunday nights, viewers are prohibited from seeing other out-of-market contests – even if one is paying for MLB’s premium packages such as MLB.TV or MLB Extra Innings.

Perhaps more so than any other team, the “nation” part of the Cardinal Nation feels the impact. From the days when the Cards were the only team west of the Mississippi and MLB had not yet entered the South, Cardinals fandom became most widespread.

As such, one could argue that support of the Cardinals is even deeper-rooted than MLB’s blackout policy. Yet on days like this, fandom has to take a back seat to these consumer-unfriendly rules.

Specifically, on this Saturday, May 25, much of the country will be stuck viewing one of four other contests such as Marlins-White Sox and A’s-Astros, rather than being given a choice to see the Cardinals-Dodgers instead. (Link to Saturday’s FOX MLB coverage map.) The only live alternative is to turn back the clock and listen to radio broadcasts.

This exclusivity window is baked into the national television contracts, which run through 2021. Even worse news for the future is that starting in 2014, FOX’s regular-season game rights will double – from 26 to 52. In other words, the conflicts will only increase over the next eight years. (See important update in comments section below.)

The money involved in these broadcast rights is huge, with FOX to pay MLB an estimated half-billion per year and ESPN even higher at $700 million annually (which include post-season coverage). For that reason, relief from the national weekend television blackouts is seemingly not on the horizon.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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23 Responses to “MLB national blackouts are not going away”

  1. crdswmn says:

    If you have MLB.TV the Fox Saturday blackouts are going away next year.

    • Brian Walton says:

      I had missed that news from last October. That is a big step. It also apparently applies to Extra Innings as well as MLB.TV. Too bad they didn’t negotiate it into this season, too.

      There still could be isolated problems in the future. The doubling of FOX “national” games means fewer in-market games through the regional carriers. For example, a customer in FS Midwest territory who would normally get a Cardinals Saturday game that is picked up by FOX Network might be assigned a different regional contest on FOX Network. If he/she doesn’t subscribe to MLB.TV or MLB EI, they would be out of luck. Probably an exception case, though.

      • crdswmn says:

        The blackout changes won’t affect my viewing of Cardinals games because I get all the Fox broadcast Cardinal games on TV anyway. And I don’t travel much anymore, so I don’t have to worry about being away and trying to watch.

        But, it will enable me to watch the game of my choice on MLB.TV on Saturdays instead of being stuck with whatever game my local Fox station is showing (which is usually some AL game I am not interested in.)

  2. Bw52 says:

    Nice to see Cards on TV.Not everybody likes watching the damn Yankees or Boston Bastids.local Fox carries damn Cinncy Reds and idiots Brennanman JR and buddies.Sick of hearing about how great the Reds are and how lucky the Cards are.

  3. crdswmn says:

    Well, unless we can beat Kershaw tomorrow, we will likely be out of first place by Monday.

    I have to laugh at all the Reds fans who think their team is the 37 Yankees. Beating up on a continuous succession of basement dwellers does not a powerhouse make.

    Some bad defense and iffy pitching sunk us. Matheny playing armchair psychologist again with the bullpen. I like Boggs, but he isn’t going to be fixed by Matheny treating him like he is trying to cure a hangover with vodka. The offense didn’t help matters any, saw some pretty lousy ABs from some people.

    I will try to keep up with the score via my phone tomorrow. I am going to be at a play so I will miss the game entirely. Hope it is worth watching on MLB.TV later,

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    Derrick Gould reported Gast has shoulder pain last season, when he tossed 160 innings and did not miss starts. No wonder Mo likes Gast. He keeps hurling, until carted off to the sawbones, just like Garcia.

  5. CariocaCardinal says:

    Nothing like a little reminder if Westie on a Sunday afternoon

    ” “If you know the truth and others don’t, that’s one way you can reassert feelings of having agency,” Swami says. It can be comforting to do your own research even if that research is flawed. It feels good to be the wise old goat in a flock of sheep. ”

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Makes sense. His stuff could come out of a “how to be wacko” manual.

    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

      You love me and you know Brazilian …………… you follow me on Cards Talk ……….. I know the truth of that……… Brian does to ………. how do you like the Chinese Fire Drill going on over there ……. I was always curious as to how extreme pressure from the top would play down through the apparatus of flunkies ……. you and Brian make quite a team too…..

  6. JumboShrimp says:

    I would like to think this web site is the go to place for those fed up with Wigginton.

    Why did Matheny send Wigginton up to pinch-hit yesterday against a RHP? Did he have a bet placed on the Dodgers?

    • JumboShrimp says:

      I may need to walk that back a bit. Wiggy is batting a woeful .091 against his specialty, left-handers, but an exciting .217 against righties. Maybe righties are Wiggies new specialty?

  7. LarryBird says:

    What is going on with the Cardinal announcers! I can stand Horton as a play by play guy a couple times a year for emergency. With him as a pbp guy and Al as an analyst it is just brutal! I always was proud of our tv announcers Joe Buck and Danny Mac are as good as they come. Are Al and Ricky a team now? I like Horton as an analyst and think Al has overstayed his welcome.

  8. LarryBird says:

    I understand that Dan had to prove himself. I thought he did. If not why can they not find someone else? I actually listened to the radio this last game and did not turn the tv on because they are not in sync.

  9. blingboy says:

    I see where The Kozmanator stepped out of a phone booth with a cape on today. Took up the slack for the high priced guy.

    Beating Kershaw, wow. Nice win.

    My roommate from college in the late 70s called just now to say he is living in Springfield and will be catching some AA games. Wanted to get a rundown on the prospects there, etc. He used to go all the time when he lived in Joplin, but his house got destroyed in the tornado. His place of emplyment too. I lost track of him when he got a new job and moved. Turns out he moved to Oklahoma and his house got wrecked again. So now he is in Springfield. If anybody knows anybody there, better tell them to take cover.

    • kray66 says:

      Sounds like I picked a good time to move from Springfield to Bentonville, AR then.

      Springfield is a beautiful stadium, and Double A team is fun to watch. And you can occasionally catch a rehab start as well for one of the big dogs.

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