• phil cantor/@osgphil

Major League Baseball's ancient TV broadcast policies are killing avid fans who stream


Ah, the baseball season is upon us as Major League Baseball teams open the doors to their Spring Training facilities in Florida and Arizona.


For those of us who love the game, few things mean spring more than the crack of bats, the popping of a ball hitting a glove and smell of a freshly mowed field.


Me, I'm a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan who lives in the metro Atlanta area and have been spoiled for years by the local cable sports network that broadcasts almost every single game during the season.


But alas, that will not happen for me in 2021, a.k.a the decade cable tv dies.



I say that because we (family) made a conscious decision almost two years ago to ditch cable boxes and the 500 channels, largely because we were watching maybe 10 of them. We dumped ATT U-Verse and decided to move to Hulu Live (a streaming service).


That eliminated roughly $100 a month of expenses for me while keeping most of the channels I still watch. But admittedly, the wife and I don't watch much "Live TV" anymore, but we are part of a super fast-growing part of the population.


Which brings me to my baseball quandary: The entity that owns Fox Sports South (Sinclair Broadcasting) or whatever they call themselves now, went big for a rate increase and were summarily dropped by Hulu and YouTube TV, the two largest streaming services that carried their programming.


Which leaves a percentage of us fans "Shit out of Luck"....No live baseball games in 2021 unless they're on national TV.


What is the issue you ask?


Well, because of an archaic Major League Baseball rule, the only way you can watch the home team in the home town is through the local broadcast outlet televising the game. If I/you lived in someplace not in Atlanta, you can get the MLB-TV Extra Innings package and watch nearly every single Braves game. But because I live roughly 3 miles from the ballpark, I'm automatically blacked out.


Before you say (and you will), just go to the games--that's much easier said then done. Never mind the cost of a season ticket package, I actually have a job that requires me to be awake very early in the morning. Even if I could watch the games, I cannot watch the whole game since I have to be awake for work at 3 a.m. But that's irrelevant. The point being a ton of fans including me, can't watch, even if we wanted to.


And hey, I get it, I know how it all works. The Fox Sports South paid a shit-ton of money to get the rights to the games. In 1995 or even 2005, that was standard and almost all viewers had cable and didn't have an issue accessing the games. Streaming live TV didn't exist.


It does now. And more people by the day are dumping cable because it is basically paying a lot money for 500 things even though you may only use 10 of them and for a set-top box that you don't need at all.


By ignoring local streamers, Major League Baseball and Fox Sports South are cutting their already dwindling fanbase by thousands per market. Someone needs to explain to them this is really happening that not everyone has cable or DirecTV in 2021. There are plenty of articles and statistics to prove this.


Heck, I'd be willing to pay for their app or the Fox Sports Go app if it meant I could watch the games. I don't have an issue dropping a nominal fee to use their app. But in this world where not every single "network" is on every single provider--you can't download or use their app without being attached to said provider. Which yeah, sounds pretty damn monopolistic.


I can't go on my computer or watch a game on my I-Pad or phone either. Why? Because I live in Metro Atlanta. In order to use the Fox Sports Go app which does stream the games, I have to be with a "participating provider". No other option. For Hulu, YouTube, Sling, Pluto or any other streaming provider--your credentials won't work for you to get the app.


Which means me, and thousands of others in Metro Atlanta who have "cut-the-cord" or out of luck. And well, unfortunately, nobody will really notice. The only way to resolve this is to draw attention to the problem, which is why I'm writing this.


It makes no sense. Why can't I access an app to watch games? Why can't I see my home team play, especially if I'm willing to pay for it? Why do I have to be tied in to a cable provider only.


Does MLB even understand how much money they could make from this? Seriously. If there are 1 million people in baseball markets who are baseball fans who stream their TV instead of having cable, imagine what you could do by charging them say $5 month for games? Mind you, I'm probably seriously underestimating the amount of people.


That's $5 million a month for the length of a season, for what, six months? That's $30 million extra money a season--minimum. Granted it isn't "billions" but it ain't chump change either.


Hey, I know. Professional sports leagues aren't always hip to new technology or the first on board to jump on emerging technology, but come on guys? This isn't "THAT" new...there has been a steady stream of people dumping cable (cutting the cord) for years, it's growing in popularity. Fast.


Listen, I will get over this. It will kill me, but I will. Life will go on without being able to watching Braves baseball most nights. My wife still loves me, I have a nice house with two happy dogs. I have super high speed fiber internet so I can watch or do whatever I want online.


I'll read about the games and I'll follow the scores on my phone and Twitter. I'll watch clips of great plays, but it won't be the same.

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