I know that this subject has been written about many times before, but I feel compelled to add our view on the matter. Major League Baseball’s blackout rules are incredibly stupid and drive away younger fans that MLB absolutely needs in order to grow the game throughout the country.
I’m writing this while watching the Dodgers at the Rockies on MLB.tv. I don’t care much about either team, though the Dodgers are fun to watch. I wanted to watch the Jumbo Shrimp’s parent club, the inimitable Miami Marlins, take on Florida’s other renowned team, the Tampa Bay Rays. But, since I happen to live in Florida, albeit four to five hours away from the respective ballparks…I am blacked out on MLB.tv. I cannot get to either ballpark with any regularity, yet I am considered part of the “home market.” This is dumb. Baseball has so broadly defined the term “home market” that it has lost all meaning. Major League Baseball should make any and all games available to those who have paid for their streaming or video services.
The marketing folks at MLB go on and on with tales of woe regarding the demographics of baseball fans, and how baseball isn’t as popular as they feel it should be among kids and young adults. Well, when that cohort relies almost exclusively on streaming for their entertainment, ensuring that they can’t see the teams closest to them – at all – is self-defeating. You don’t make new fans by giving them less baseball. You give them as much as they can possibly handle. Free games on tv or a device, free highlights, free use of highlights for videos, memes, or whatever. Might baseball makes a little less money in the short run by doing this? Quite possibly. But the future of baseball depends upon it being a national sport with a national following, not just a regional game. A short term loss will ultimately lead to a long term gain as young fans turn into older fans. Baseball has never been good at thinking about the long term, unlike a couple of the other major US sports. But in this case, it is a must.
The folks I feel worst for are those living in Iowa and Nevada. None of these states have major league teams, but are blacked out from six separate teams who claim the states as a “home market.” In Hawaii, they are blacked out by five teams. And Guam, which is inexplicably blacked out from Giants and Athletics games. Huh?? Why?? If this doesn’t reveal the idiocy of the MLB’s Blackout policy, then nothing does.
These antiquated blackout rules do nothing to promote baseball. They do nothing to make new fans. Major League Baseball needs to get rid of them before there are no new fans to get.