Thursday, October 2, 2014


Earlier this week the FCC decided that supporting professional sports blackouts (where local games aren't televised based on certain rules) was something they weren't going to do going forward. It was a big deal for all of about 5 minutes as everyone realized that the major sports leagues could still blackout games. They just couldn't hide behind the FCC anymore.

There are two leagues who could, in my opinion, make a change and no longer blackout any games and probably (note probably) make some more money. These two leagues are MLS and the NHL. I don't expect that the NFL, NBA or MLB will ever change so I don't have much hope. Here are my reasons why MLS and the NHL should get rid of blackouts:

  1. Streaming of games - Both leagues offer online packages for games to be streamed to your home. This freedom is great except that you can't get the local teams, nor can you get nationally televised games (NHL always, MLS sometimes). This creates a HUGE problem when playoff time comes around. All NHL playoff games are nationally televised, which means if you get the Center Ice package you can't see them. If you are like me and have cut the cord to pay TV, you have to wait until NBC shows the games and that's usually once a weekend. Matter of fact, NBC only shows some of the Stanley Cup Finals which means I could miss the hoisting of the cup. The NHL has the best playoffs of any major sports league (even diehard NFL guys agree to this), so by not blacking them out and charging a bit more for their streaming package more fans would watch, more revenue from alternates streams (and markets who aren't in the playoffs) would come in.
  2. Expanding audience reach - Both leagues are "second level" when compared to the NFL, NBA and MLB. They need a way to expand their fan base and reach new fans. By not blacking games out it provides a way for people to see their games when there is "nothing else on". This is especially big for MLS during the months of June, July, and August when the only real competition is Baseball. By not blacking out games and providing a way to reach other audiences, the excitement of the games can infect new viewers.
  3. Fan Friendliness - Fans hate it when they can't see their local teams. Blackouts prevent them from doing so. By removing blackouts, fans will be happier and more likely to purchase other items (such as apparel). This means more revenue for the leagues and teams which in turn can produce better product on the field/ice.
  4. Selfishness - I'm kind of tired of being told that I can't watch something because of some archaic rules. We live in an age where we can get access to data 24X7 without much difficulty. It shouldn't be so hard to get access to live events also. We need to bring sports broadcasting into the 21st Century and allow fans access to everything (even if we have to pay a yearly fee).
Removing the blackouts for MLS and the NHL would make me want to spend money on their packages. It would strengthen the bond I already have as a fan. It would make me an even bigger cheerleader for their cause. In short, it would make them and me better.

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