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FOX, ESPN Blackout Rules Impact Phillies-Mets, Red Sox-Tigers PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 29 May 2011 16:37

Each weekend, fans are left scratching their head when it comes to how games are blacked out. Due to MLB’s national exclusivity agreements with FOX (Saturday) and ESPN (Sunday), those that watch games on MLB Extra Innings or MLB.TV are forced to watch the national game of the week.

Yesterday, the FOX Game of the Week was shown in primetime (7pm ET start), and broken down by regional games. Here’s what FOX had on the slate:

  • Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets
  • Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers
  • Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves
  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Minnesota Twins
  • Kansas City Royals at Texas Rangers
  • St. Louis Cardinals at Colorado Rockies

What sent more than a few fans into a tailspin was that the Phillies-Mets game wasn’t shown in upstate New York in the Buffalo and Rochester markets in favor of the Angels-Twins game. If you were to look at MLB’s TV territory/blackout map, you would have thought that the Phillies-Mets game would be outside of blackout for those market. The problem is, the national exclusivity deal doesn’t always adhere to the territories that are used at the local and regional level on weekdays.

Back to those affected in upper New York, according to Major League Baseball, the Red Sox v. Tigers game was originally slotted for Rochester, not the Mets and Phillies, likely due to affiliate request. With that game postponed, the league was unsure why the Angels-Twins game was selected, and suggested contacting FOX (we will update when/if we hear from them).

But, on a rare occasion, the networks can bend the rules that almost always hurt rather than help.

Case in point, ESPN, who has the night game on Sunday, is dropping the exclusivity arrangement for the to allow second game of the Red Sox-Tigers doubleheader – the make-up for yesterday’s rainout – to be televised by NESN in the New England and FSN Detroit. Bravo to ESPN for that.

For those wondering whether the national exclusivity agreements may go to the wayside when they expire in 2013, think again. According to sources, FOX may consider more games in primetime than they currently have, meaning this particular problem fans bumped into on Saturday in primetime is most assuredly going to happen more often in the future.

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Maury BrownMaury 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, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. 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.

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