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Bad news for you if you want to watch the Nats or Orioles in North Carolina

May 29, 2012, 1:30 PM EDT

old TV

A legal ruling in the Fourth Circuit pretty much encapsulates all that is wrong with the current broadcasting regime in Major League Baseball:

Nationals and Orioles: We want the cable company in North Carolina to carry our regional sports network so that our fans in that great state can watch their O’s and Nats play! And [cough] so we can make some more money!

The Local Cable Company: We don’t want to carry the Nationals and Orioles. No one likes ’em down here.

FCC: Yeah, what they said.

Court: We agree. No one should have to broadcast Nats and O’s games in North Carolina [judge does Tomahawk Chop, checks his tee time at Augusta National].

Nats and O’s fans who live in North Carolina: Well, I guess we should just watch them on then. Thank goodness there is a means for people who live far from their team’s home to enjoy the games all the same!

Major League Baseball:  North Carolina is Nationals and Orioles territory! You can’t watch Nats and O’s games there unless you do it via your local cable company! Sorry! You’re blacked out!

Fabulous system we have here.

  1. Tapps - May 29, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Also, inexplicably, the Reds are blacked out (in the Charlotte area at least).

    • natstowngreg - May 29, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      Just guessing, but could that be a vestige of the time before the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1965, when Cincinnati was closest to southeastern media markets?

      • recoveringcubsfan - May 29, 2012 at 7:34 PM

        Growing up in the actual Queen City, Charlotte, I was always doubly disgusted by the Reds always being on the radio and the Braves being the only team on TV. Maybe that’s why I watched the Cubs…. Don’t do it, kids!

  2. WhenMattStairsIsKing - May 29, 2012 at 1:39 PM


    • heyblueyoustink - May 29, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      Double face palm

  3. dowhatifeellike - May 29, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    I had a similar problem recently. I couldn’t watch an O’s game via because it was on Fox, but my local Fox affiliate was airing a different game. It’s frustrating when you purchase a product but are restricted in how you’re allowed to use it.

    I just don’t understand the blackouts in general. If you live in your team’s area, why would you want to pay extra when you can just turn on your tv? I bought because I’m 1700 miles away and unless it’s an actual nationally-broadcast game, I’ll never see it otherwise. But since Fox does regional broacasts, I couldn’t watch it either way.

    • ThisIsBaseball - May 29, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      I would pay extra to not have to watch it on the TV. I have and I use it mostly on my computer while studying in the library or on my phone while out-and-about. I had the same problem with Fox, too. I emailed them to bitch. They replied with a pre-generated email. Makes me angry.

    • mcsnide - May 29, 2012 at 2:06 PM

      I’m with you. Just run the commercials and call it good. It amazes me that I can use a product called mlb.TV to listen to the radio call of the local game, but not see the video. How that makes sense, I’ll never know.

    • gammagammahey - May 29, 2012 at 3:13 PM

      “I just don’t understand the blackouts in general. If you live in your team’s area, why would you want to pay extra when you can just turn on your tv?”

      Not everyone chooses to subscribe to a cable TV package and sports is a huge selling point for a lot of cable providers. If I could get all of the Mets games via, I wouldn’t bother with the $70+/month in cable fees. MLB needs to preserver the old system of cable providers paying the regional sports networks to carry their channels in order to keep up the price of those lucrative contracts that those networks pay the teams.

  4. shanemcdowell - May 29, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Fortunately, they don’t play often, but this has always irked me as a fan of a non-Orioles AL team (Twins) living in North Carolina. Can’t get MASN and is blacked out. On the other hand, it’s saved me from watching a few awful Twins games the last couple of years, so maybe it all evens out.

  5. sophiethegreatdane - May 29, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    As a lifelong Os fan, let me ask the obvious question: are people *really* clamoring to see the Orioles outside of the Baltimore area?

    I mean it’s been a nice start to the season, but there have been many times in the past 14 years when I wished they would be blacked out here!

    • psuravens19 - May 29, 2012 at 2:46 PM

      Maybe some fans watch their team even when they are losing…. what a concept.

      • sophiethegreatdane - May 29, 2012 at 8:22 PM

        Check your sarcasm detector. It might need fresh batteries.

    • recoveringcubsfan - May 29, 2012 at 7:37 PM

      Well…when I was a kid, the minor league team in Charlotte was the “Charlotte O’s” and a guy named Ripken even played for them once. But, no Orioles’s games on TV, ever. Then, the AA team became the affiliate of the Cubs, then the Indians, then the Sox, and yet we never got any of those games on TV, either. Because, if you’re MLB, you don’t ever, ever want fans of a minor league player to see him in the bigs. Nope.

  6. braddavery - May 29, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    That’s sounds completely ridiculous and irrational on all fronts.

  7. hasbeen5 - May 29, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    Here’s another one:

    Last Tuesday (I tihnk) MLB network was showing the Braves-Reds game. I live in Florida, the only teams I get via my satellite provider are Miami and Tampa Bay. Yet this game was blacked out. I couldn’t figure that out.

    Also, over the weekend, the channel that usually shows the Rays was showing college conference tournaments so the Rays-Sox game was not on. Still couldn’t watch the ESPN coverage though. I get not competing with the local folks, but if they’re not showing the game on any channel I get, why can’t I watch it on ESPN?

  8. digitaldonnie - May 29, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    I live in North Carolina and like the Nationals. The whole thing sucks. But what’s worse is MLB network games on directv are always blacked out unless you pay for their baseball package. Garbage, hot, hot garbage.

    • terpintriangle - May 29, 2012 at 4:16 PM

      I also live in NC, and have to get Directv + the MASN package just to see the Nats at about $80+/month. If the games were not blacked out on, I’d probably ditch pay TV altogether for digital Rabbit ears just for News & Weather. Most of the remaining stuff on TV is garbage, but I’m held hostage here by this system. One day, I might just get the stones to dump this package, and forego my nightly Nats fix if they don’t come up with a more reasonable solution.

  9. skyjo - May 29, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    Never forget: the entire state of Iowa is in the blackout area of each of the six nearest teams.

    • tacklemeelmo - May 30, 2012 at 5:59 AM

      Came here to post exactly this. I really dislike Iowa. Potentially blacked out from 12 teams on one night.. Yippee

  10. mj1818 - May 29, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    They tell you to purchase their package, but some of the games get blacked out no matter what. If I pay for something I want the choice of bein able to watch it, this the United States, right?

  11. mJankiewicz - May 29, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    This problem has been such a nuisance for me since i moved to Charlotte, NC from Bethlehem, PA 5 years ago. I’ve had either Extra Innings with Time Warner, or MLB.TV every year and I still miss out on a lot of Phillies games. What really sucks on top of no Nats and O’s games being televised, we’re also blacked out of Reds and Braves games. Most of the Braves games are on TV, but we hardly get any Reds games. We also get WGN Chicago, so we get some Cubs games but we’re not blacked out of those… the whole thing is really confusing and frustrating. I saw another article on Grantland about this a few weeks ago. It’s good to see this issue get some national play. Maybe something will be done about it.

  12. bnewhard - May 29, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    As a Rays fan residing in Gainesville, Florida, I used to have this problem all the time because Rays games were not carried locally, but the Rays games were blacked on on Fortunately, that isn’t a problem anymore since the games are now carried locally.

    Anyways, I used to always think there was a perfect market solution to the problem: Have partner up with the tv rights holders/cable companies and let individuals in blacked out markets subscribe to local teams. My understanding is that the rights holders are the ones pushing for black outs. I understand this, because in theory, the rights holders/cable companies want people to watch the games on tv. Surely there’s a way to divy out the subscription cash between rights holders/cable companies/teams so that everyone comes out ahead. But, apparently, the Yankees did something like that at one point in NYC, and it wasn’t that successful:

  13. johnnyb1976 - May 29, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    I can’t figure out the territories and why they are the way they are in NC. Braves are on tv all the time, Reds if you have the alternate sportsouth channell, Nats and O’s if you have direct tv and get MASN, and oh on the very western tip of NC you can watch the Cardinals. Who comes up with this crap, it made my head explode just thinking about it.

  14. vallewho - May 29, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    Yes, another reason to DISLIKE MLB. The folks running the show are out of touch. Many people are getting rid of cable and some their TVs all together.

    I would like to exclusively watch MLB on my PC since I have been paying for MLB.TV for 4 years, but it is terribly frustrating to have to deal with these blackout policies.

    Let see, someone wants the product, they buy the product, they get to use the product. It’s really that simple.

    • mJankiewicz - May 29, 2012 at 3:48 PM

      I wish I could do more than one thumbs up.

    • 18thstreet - May 29, 2012 at 4:17 PM

      I’m pointing the finger at the FCC.

      We have a government to prevent this sort of B.S.

      The self-interests of actors like MLB and the cable companies do not magically add up to a free market. Hey Ayn Rand: Go screw yourself.

      • recoveringcubsfan - May 29, 2012 at 7:38 PM

        Dare I ask: which finger?

  15. kmgannon - May 29, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    I live in Des Moines, where we are the “local” market for (takes deep breath):
    The Cubs, White Sox, Twins, Cardinals, and Brewers.

    So on the DirectTV extra-innings package, I have to watch those teams’ feeds. And as a Tribe fan, it kills me to have to listen to Hawk Harrelson when my Indians play the southsiders. And if the game is on local Chicago TV, it’s blacked out here. If it’s on local Minneapolis TV, it’s blacked out here, too. I live 6 HOURS from Chicago and 3-1/2 from Miny. I’m 8 hours from Milwaukee, and 7 from St. Louis. And MLB, in its infinite wisdom, has decided I’m in the local viewing area for all of them. Genius.

    Yet, I am *not* in the local viewing area for Kansas City, which is the closest of all of these metro regions to my actual locality. Go f**kin’ figure.

  16. stultusmagnus - May 29, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Craig, wasn’t it just a week ago when you were mocking a few blokes who were suing over this sort of thing?

    So what’s the problem now?

  17. davidpom50 - May 29, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    The really frustrating thing is that should be such a GREAT product. MLB Advanced Media does a great job of creating technology solutions, but their draconian use policies make them worthless to many.

  18. snowbirdgothic - May 29, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Good grief. How many of us North Carolinians are there on here?

    • waynespong - May 29, 2012 at 4:48 PM

      I’m in the SW tip of North Carolina and I get the Braves and the Reds. What I want is the Nationals. Directv/MLB treats their customers terrribly imo. I don’t want to watch all the teams on MLB extra innings. What I really want is MASN to watch the Nationals pre-game, the game, and the post-game all on the same channel.

      What a novel idea! lol.

      • natstowngreg - May 29, 2012 at 6:56 PM

        That’s the nonsensical thing about Extra Innings (well, one of them). No pre-game and post-game shows. Though Ray Knight on the Nats’ shows can be a little tough to endure sometimes.

  19. mrwillie - May 29, 2012 at 5:39 PM

    With the absolute absurdity of the MLB black out policy already being pretty well covered, what about the absurdity that NC is Nat’s/O’s territory?

    Where I am in NC I am 5 hrs from ATL, 5.5 hrs to DC, and well over 6 hrs to Baltimore. So sure, on a map it’s fairly in the middle, but being born and raised in NC this is without a doubt Braves country. I am not saying they’re aren’t some transplants here, and lord knows we have plenty of them, that pull for the Nat’s and O’s…but I can honestly say out of all my baseball lovin’ friends who are from here, not one is a fan of those teams, nor have I ever met one. I’m not knocking them, but the Braves are firmly entrenched here.

    So yes, the TV blackout policy is ridiculous, and I feel for the fans missing out, but why on God’s green earth did anyone every agree that this is the Nat’s/O’s TV market to begin with? It should be a non issue.

    • waynespong - May 29, 2012 at 7:04 PM

      I think that the whole idea of using geography to funnel you into a particular team is outdated. I think that if your in North Carolina and you choose to be a Nats fan, a Dodgers fan or a fan of any other team there should be a way to be able to watch that particular pre-game, game and post-game (on one station).

      The technology is way beyond this kind of territorial gerrymandering. Welcome to the 21st century, MLB and DirecTV!

  20. mississippimusicman - May 29, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    I apparently live in Braves, Cardinals, and Reds territory, but since I watch my Braves on DVR late at night anyway, it didn’t really bother me to have to wait until 30 minutes after the game is over to watch on the one season I subscribed. That said, it’s still a stupid policy. If MLB would just air the games with the network commercials intact, it seems like this would actually help ad revenue for the networks, so everybody wins. It’s not like those banner and video ads we have to sit through are producing an overwhelming amount of revenue compared to all the additional subscriptions they would land by dropping the blackout restrictions anyway.

    • dowhatifeellike - May 29, 2012 at 6:47 PM

      I don’t know what controls they have in place, but they seem to end up airing a few of the ads anyway. Sometimes when listening to the radio feed I’ll hear the entire commercial break, uninterrupted. On the computer sometimes I’ll get a 30s commercial before they cut it off. The only time I don’t see any commercials is when watching via Playstation 3, which is the superior viewing method by any measure.

  21. natstowngreg - May 29, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    It’s been quite a few years since MLB teams discovered that, if you broadcast even your home games, more folks will attend the actual home games. Yet they maintain these bizarre blackout rules. Seems to be a disconnect, common sense-wise.

  22. lifer124 - May 29, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    It’s just plain dumb. There are a lot of areas in the country that are in one or multiple team’s “home” area and can’t get the games on and yet they aren’t broadcast in the area either. Iowa is one huge example. I moved to Dubuque from Milwaukee and couldn’t get Brewer games, then discovered that I was in the home area of the Twins, Cubs, Sox, Royals, Brewers, and Cardinals. None of the regular broadcasts for those teams were available on cable, except WGN which would be available anywhere. So if I were a fan of any of those 6 teams, I’d have no way to follow my team. Well, the local radio station carried Cub broadcasts. Being a Brewer fan my whole like, I really enjoyed hearing Ron Santo call a game….

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