I can't get excited for baseball when I can't watch the games
There was a time where the calendar would hit mid-February and I'd get excited because (a) the weather was going to be nice and (b) baseball would start Spring Training.
It didn't hurt that I grew up in Florida. As a kid, several teams trained in South Florida where I went to Elementary school. There usually was a trip to the park involved every spring
Same for when I got older and we moved north to the Orlando area. Still had games, the Twins at the time trained at the old Tinker Field next to the Citrus Bowl. We'd try to get a game in at least every spring.
Even as I got older, got a job, moved out of Florida, I still would get excited. It meant again, the weather was warming and baseball was coming. There were games on ESPN or WTBS or other cable networks back in the 1990's and early 2000's it wasn't hard to find one.
That, um, has changed. A lot.
I've already harped on it a couple of times and I'm gonna keep going, for anyone living in 2021 who loves baseball and doesn't want to be subjected to the old, inflated over-priced cable monarchy, there's no baseball to watch.
ESPN will occasionally run a game when the MLB Network lets them. Here in Atlanta, you can't watch the Braves unless their on ESPN or the MLB Network because Bally's Network or Fox Sports or whatever they call themselves now don't do Spring Training.
If you're like me, someone who cut the cable cord in 2019 and saved nearly $100 a month, well, you won't get to watch games at all in 2021.
Why? Because Sinclair Broadcasting, the corporate conglomerate that owns the Regional Sports Network (RSN) are not on any of the streaming networks except the ATT Network, which BTW is the single most expensive streaming outlet available. Wonder why that is??
Yeah, I do understand how broadcast rights work. I'm very well aware of the amount of money paid for broadcast rights. It's a ton of money and for that, the networks seem to have put in place rules.
Those rules include exclusivity in their market. If they are televising a game, you have to tune in to them only to see it. It means if the Braves are on MLB's streaming channel, you can watch the broadcast, as long as you don't live in Atlanta. (Or have Hulu/YouTubeTV or ROKU etc.)
Yes, if it is an ESPN or FOX Network broadcast, yes, you get to watch. There' nothing that will stop you from watching that. It's the RSN's that cause the headaches.
RSN's are an antiquated way for Major League Baseball (MLB) to milk more money out of broadcast rights. They sprung up in the late 80's/90's and operated similarly to the ESPN model of drawing a fee from cable operators for the rights to be on their systems.
Yes, it's true, if you have cable, you're likely paying close to $10 a month just for the ESPN networks--whether you watch them or not.
The RSN's aren't getting that kind of money, but they're getting enough. Imagine for a minute--100 different cable companies with 10-million subscribers. The RSN is getting at LEAST a dollar per subscriber. That's $10 million a year. It doesn't even factor in the RSN's various sponsors paying for ads or sponsored segments in the game broadcast.
Most RSN's pay well over $30 million a year to broadcast their respective baseball teams games.
It's a long explanation which explains how it works, but it in now way, shape or form explains why they won't allow people in the home market to watch the games. Honestly, I don't know if it is an RSN rule or an MLB rule but either way, now more than ever it's borderline suicidal.
In 2021, coming off a short season with NO fans, we likely will have at least a percentage of fans at every stadium. But we're talking mostly 20-40% capacity. Which means a ton of local fans won't be there.
But, in most towns, they won't get to watch either. I don't know if it is the old-rule the NFL had about requiring a sellout for home broadcasts or what, but MLB needs all the fans they can get. They need every eyeball and then some.
Yet the league is I think fully aware they are eliminating potentially 25-50% of their potential audience and fans by keeping the local broadcast rule in place.
You could book me as watching at least 70/80 games a season if not more. If I'm lucky, this season I'll see 5. YES...it has killed almost all my enthusiasm for the season.
Even for the sake of argument, the RSN's stay off of the streaming services, at minimum the local fans should be able to subscribe to MLB-TV. That's the part I don't understand. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying I'd pay them $5-$10 a month to watch the Braves this season (I have HULU-Live).
What I won't do is drop HULU and go back to Spectrum Cable (town provider) or sign up for ATT Network. I don't want--or need the 300 channels required for Spectrum for an extra $30 a month. ATT is roughly the same price as HULU but with fewer programming options (much fewer). Why would I change? I'm not making a life sacrifice and my wife won't let me make that sacrifice just to watch baseball.
I love my Braves--I want to watch and over the past 20-years of living in Atlanta have watched as many games as I can possibly see. I can't do that anymore.
I blame MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL for this, I blame their antiquated rules and seeming lack of understanding how streaming live broadcasts work. The other sports seem to get it, why can't they?
This far into the 21st century surely they understand the old broadcast rules no longer apply. We aren't in a cable world where you either had to sign up or by rabbit ears and get 3/4 channels any more. Those days are gone.
High speed internet means everyone can or should be able to stream/download as they please and choose what they want and how they get it.
MLB needs every single fan it can muster. With the idiotic labor unrest that kept the National League from adapting the Designated Hitter in 2021 because of labor negotiating leverage, they're pissing off fans on a daily basis.
Get your act together Rob Manfred. Open the floodgates. Let us watch our home teams through your cable network. If we can't watch the RSN's because Sinclair Broadcasting is a bunch of idiots, give us another option.
Streaming TV customers who double as baseball fans demand it.