“I see no reason why there ought to be so many clubs able to black out in those territories. That’s my intention. That’s my goal. I didn’t get any pushback. The whole thing is about making the game more popular and available.” – MLB President and COO Bob DuPuy in '08 on restructuring the league’s television blackout policy
Long before Bob DuPuy said that the owners were willing to adjust MLB’s television territories, fans had been left in a lurch. There has been thousands upon thousands of dollars spent by fans that make up MLB’s most loyal fan base, only to be told each year, “We’re working on it.”
Those fans – MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV subscribers, depending on location – continue to pay for the right to see out-of-market games, only to click through to games that are blacked out.
DuPuy’s plan in 2008 was that if a club is not broadcasting in a geographic location for at least one season, the club would lose the right to claim that location. This would help many, but not all fans, but it would certainly be a start.
But, nothing has been discussed in the two years since there seemed to be some long overdue talk of getting the blackout policy at least remotely corrected. Whether it’s been the economy – what have you – the topic has not surfaced. Bud Selig has created an “on the field matters” committee to discuss pie-in-the-sky topics such as “floating” realignment, but the owners aren’t willing to pay respect to those putting money into your coffers.
MLB, you have given up on your most loyal fans. You don’t care. Actions speak louder than words. Subscribers, welcome to the figurative middle finger.
"We're trying to make this real simple: a club is going to need to be in that market to claim that market," DuPuy said to the SportsBusiness Daily in ‘08. "It does not make sense to have as many clubs claim these areas as they have. And in the end, the goal is simply to have more baseball available for more fans, which in the end can only help us. Assuming we tie up some remaining things and this is approved by the Executive Council (on Wednesday), I would expect some action on this (from the owners)."
Wake us all up when that “action” comes, Bob. And, MLB, your welcome from your best fans helping you reach record revenues in a down economy. I’m sure you’re “working on it.”
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
Follow Maury Brown on Twitter
Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter
Follow the Business of Sports Network on Facebook