Baseball’s Back . . . Most of the Time.
Another baseball season has begun and it didn’t take long for Major League Baseball’s outrageous blackout policy to affect thousands of fans here in Hawaii.
The problem is that five major league baseball teams claim Hawaii as part of their “home” market: the Oakland A’s, the San Francisco Giants, the San Diego Padres, and both teams in the Los Angeles area, the Dodgers and the Angels. Every game these teams play—whether home or away— is blacked out in Hawaii unless it’s been selected as game-of-the-week by one of the networks—Fox or ESPN.
Each of these teams sells the rights to televise their games to a TV station in their home city and to a company like Time Warner or Comcast. They, in turn, peddle the broadcasts to regional carriers.
But what happens if Comcast, for example, is asking too much and the local cable company doesn’t want to pay for those games? In that case, they are blacked out in that area.
And that’s why, on Opening Day of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, thousands of baseball fans in Hawaii weren’t able to watch the San Francisco Giants take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. The game was blacked out.
It’s outrageous and it’s stupid and it’s been going on for nine years and it’s not just the greed of the cable companies. All the games are shown on the MLB.com website, but the same blackout restrictions are observed.
A few years back, I tried calling MLB headquarters to personally complain to the vice president for marketing. I spoke to his assistant, told her why I was calling and asked for a call back. I didn’t get one, of course, so I called again and, when I told the woman my name, without a word she switched me to their PR line where I could press 2 and get a recorded explanation of Major League Baseball’s blackout policy.
Ferd Lewis, a sportswriter for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, called Major League Baseball for his story that ran today in the paper. He got no callback.
My solution—and it doesn’t work out all the time—has been to subscribe to DirecTV and buy their Major League Baseball package. The blackout still applies, however—even when the Oakland A’s are playing the Red Sox in Boston—but DirecTV gives me the TV station in Oakland that carries the A’s games and I can watch the Boston-Oakland games on that channel.
It’s all stupid and pointless and frustrating because a solution is simple: each of those five ball clubs simply stop claiming Hawaii as being in their home market. How could we be? We’re 2500 miles away!