Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports penned an article yesterday regarding the un-availability of MLB games in certain markets, specifically Las Vegas, which is blacked out for Oakland A's, San Francisco Giants, and Arizona Diamondbacks games.
For this little slice of ironic corporate stupidity - in the age of ubiquitous information, an entity actually is restricting its ubiquity - fans have Major League Baseball's territorial-rights policy to thank. You see, around 40 years ago, baseball began gerrymandering specific areas of the country to teams so each one could market to a localized fan base. As media walls broke down and television coverage expanded and the NFL made billions of dollars more than its competitors with a national contract, baseball allowed teams to retreat to their fiefdoms and handle TV however they chose. Now the sport faces the double whammy of local TV revenue being the great divide between haves and have-nots that also keeps a fan like [Jey] Cho wondering why he can't watch his favorite team play even though its stadium is 400 miles away.This is the biggest problem with the free market style of MLB's local media relationships. The fact that local TV rights are negotiated independently of one another (as opposed to collectively, as in the NFL), MLB has virtually no control over the rules of availability form city-to-city. As wonderful as MLB Advanced Media has been, television and internet blackouts of certain games is one place where MLB and Bud Selig have failed in their effort to bring baseball to the masses. As usual, the big winners are the owners, who continue to get richer, and the losers are the fans, who continue to get screwed.