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Baseball everywhere, unless you live in Iowa

Sometimes you just can't watch the Mets in Roswell, New Mexico.

| Patrick Flood

Major League Baseball advertises its MLB.tv streaming service with the tagline “Baseball Everywhere,” but baseball fans soon learn that everywhere doesn’t necessarily mean, well, everywhere. Though MLB mentions that “baseball everywhere” does really only mean certain games, which games and where you can watch them can get confusing.

For example, last April I was with a friend in Roswell, New Mexico, and during some downtime, I tried to catch the Mets playing the Rockies via MLB.tv, a streaming service that costs $109.99 this season for a one-year subscription. I’m a Mets fan, and baseball fan in general; for the purposes of this article, I’ll also note I’m also a former employee of MLB Advanced Media. Anyway. Trying to load the Mets-Rockies game, I found I couldn’t watch at all. MLB.tv informed me that I was not able to stream that game because of blackout restrictions. Roswell, despite being a cozy 502 miles from the Rockies home park in Denver, still falls in the blackout zone for the team.

What if I went to a bar and tried to watch on regular cable TV? Nope. A quick check of local cable providers in the Roswell area shows that Fox Sports Net Rocky Mountains, the channel that broadcasts Rockies games, isn’t offered on standard or expanded cable tiers in that part of New Mexico. So if you’re a Rockies fan living in Roswell (or a traveling Mets fan), you’re out of luck. Roswell also falls in the blackout zones for the Texas Rangers (475 miles from Roswell), Houston Astros (678 miles), and Arizona Diamondbacks (570 miles).

That’s not the worst place to be a baseball fan who has an MLB.tv subscription, however. Residents of Iowa – as in the entire state – are blacked out from seeing six teams. Residents of southern Nevada are blacked out from six teams as well. So on a given night, MLB.tv subscribers in Iowa or Las Vegas could be blacked out from 40 percent of MLB’s schedule.

Blackout rules exist to protect the interest of local sports networks and cable companies. Because of the blackout restrictions, Yankees fans in the New York City area still need to subscribe to cable to catch their favorite team. The rules allow MLB to offer MLB.tv to Yankee fans in Chicago without threatening its expensive TV contracts in New York. The problem is that some blackout territories become expansive, and certain cities like Roswell, 475 miles from the nearest Major League ballpark, wind up in the dark for four fan bases. All of which is defensible from a business standpoint, but maybe makes the “baseball everywhere” tagline misleading.

Want to see where you are blocked from watching your favorite teams? Here’s MLB’s blackout map.

Hope may be on the way for baseball fans in Roswell, Las Vegas, and Iowa, though. Last year, a handful of baseball fans filed a lawsuit against MLB, MLB Advanced Media, Comcast, Direct TV, and a number of regional sports networks in an attempt to overthrow MLB’s blackout rules. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in New York allowed the lawsuit to proceed last December, and the case is still pending. But for now, baseball everywhere means baseball everywhere except in Iowa, Roswell, and southern Nevada.

Patrick Flood

Patrick was a former project associate who helped with TINA.org's social media efforts and wrote for the website. He holds a B.A. in Classical Languages from Wesleyan University.


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