The response to MLB and Fox's insanely frustrating blackout policy was overwhelming. We had numerous tweets pour in from frustrated fans all around the country stating how blackout policies were keeping them from watching their favorite teams. We heard from people blacked out in "local markets" three states away. Colorado Avalanche games blacked out in Omaha, Nebraska. Oakland A's games blacked out in Las Vegas. Northwest Arkansas being claimed as a Houston Astros market even though it's 10 hours away. The Reds, Braves, Nats, and Orioles sharing a home market in North Carolina and much more.
I'm not going to even pretend to know how all these blackout policies work in MLB, NBA, and the NHL, but I do know these rules prevent sports fans from watching their favorite team around the country way too much. Leagues and networks need to take notice of these grotesque policies that hurt fans. These are Blackout Horror Stories...
As I said in my tweet I live in NW North Carolina. I am somehow local to the Reds, the Braves, the Nats, and I forgot about the Orioles. I bet Baltimore wishes they could forget the Orioles. I am a Cubs fan and basically what this does to me is every time the Cubs play one of these teams I have to listen to the local broadcasters and not the Cubs. The worst part about this policy is the Reds aren't available locally in my area. So most of the time I can't even watch the Cubs even though I pay for the Extra Innings package. And the Fox blackout whenever they show a game does not make any sense to me. I don't see how they can legally do that. I mean we pay the money for the package we should be able to watch whatever game when we want too.
I'm a Reds fan in Indianapolis, and I'm luckier than fans of other teams--I at least get 95 Reds games/year on Fox Sports Indiana. But those other 60+ games I can't get on MLB.TV or Extra Innings. Like Joe Lucia wrote, I really want to get rid of cable, but not being able to watch the Reds is keeping me from doing it.
Las Vegas gets blacked out for the Diamondbacks, Padres, Dodgers, Angels, A’s, and Giants – none of which are within 200 miles of us.
Probably the most frustrating blackout experience I have experienced is WKYC's (Cleveland NBC's local affiliate) handling of NHL games when the Cleveland Indians are in season. WKYC has an arrangement to broadcast selected Sunday afternoon Indians games, often times in direct conflict with NHL playoff games. WKYC shows the Indians games and will join the NHL game in progress.
I realize that I do not live in a prime hockey market. However, with the technology available today I find it amazing that I cannot see the game in HD that I want to see, regardless of the city I live in. As a native of Buffalo and fan of the NHL I have chosen DirectTV so that I can buy the NHL Center Ice package. That allows me to ensure I will see every Sabres game that is televised on cable. Over the air broadcasts are another story and apparently the local affiliate can choose to not broadcast what the network shows.
This situation is especially unbearable for me when the Sabres are in the playoffs. If lucky, I would be able to catch the third period of the Sabres playoff game once the Indians game was over. At worst, the Indians game would go into extra innings and I would miss the entire game.
Today there are a few more options through some private internet sites that will show a grainy version of the game. The official online NHL solution is no help in this matter.
Repeated emails to WKYC, NBC, DirecTV and the NHL have been no help in this regard. I have proposed what I think to be reasonable alternatives to each entity with no success. Each response I have gotten has referenced legal contracts that prevent any resolution in this matter.
With the recent long term deal between NBC and the NHL I am not optimistic this will be resolved any time soon. The NHL fan in Cleveland will continue to suffer. There aren't many of us in Cleveland so it looks like the NHL playoffs on Sunday afternoons will continue to be pre-empted here.