Allow me to add to Mark’s rants about Fox Sports and their idiotic monopoly on Saturday daytime baseball broadcasts, and the idiocy of MLB that allows for it. Due to their agreed-upon blackout rules, I’m faced with another Saturday of not being able to watch my favorite team, despite the fact that I pay DirecTV over $200 per season in order to be able to do so.
Succinctly put on DirecTV’s explanation page, the policy goes as follows: “For every Saturday of the regular season, the FOX Television Network has the exclusive national rights to broadcast games up until 7:00pm ET (4:00pm PT).”
The reasoning behind this is pretty apparent: Fox wants to have the exclusive attention of any would-be Saturday-afternoon baseball fans, to maximize their advertising reach. I don’t think I’m in the minority when I say that this alone is completely stupid; I would say that I watch commercials less than 10% of the time I spend watching TV—and I watch a lot of TV. But it gets worse when you consider that there are other games that take place before 7:00pm ET on Saturdays that Fox makes no effort to broadcast, leaving fans with no options.
For example, today the Cubs-Pirates game started at 10:05am (this is a west coast phenomenon that I’m still getting used to, by the way, but find myself liking for the most part: I can get up, watch the game—if I’m actually able to get it, that is—and then have the entire rest of the day available, which is pretty nice). The Angles-Yankees game, which Fox is going to be broadcasting nationwide, will begin at 12:55pm. This means that it is extremely likely that the Cubs game will be over before the first pitch of the Yankees game has even been thrown. And yet, the “exclusivity” agreement means that the Cubs game is blacked out for everybody outside of the Chicago and Pittsburgh markets. It’s no wonder why so many people simply subscribe to DirecTV and then lie about moving to their market of choice. Not only does it save them the money of having to purchase the MLB Extra Innings package in order to follow their favorite team in the first place, but it also avoids these stupid blackout situations altogether. (The same reasoning goes, of course, for all of the other sports as well.)
It’s worth noting that ESPN has a similar agreement with MLB for their Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts. The major difference, though, is that there are no other games on Sunday nights. It could be said that days like today are the fault of the Cubs for scheduling a day game on a day when Fox’s blackout rules will be in effect, but why should Fox be allowed to dictate the entire league’s schedules, in the name of their greedy advertising bottom line?
UPDATE: A decent solution that I forgot to mention is to just leave the house and listen to the game in the car, which is what I ended up doing (we had somewhere to go anyway). XM includes every Major League game, with no blackouts, as part of their standard service. It’s not the same as watching it on TV, but Pat and Ron are always enjoyable, and it’s definitely better than sitting at home cursing Fox while staring at a blank screen showing error code 727.