ESPN Should Have the Right to Broadcast Games That Local TV Broadcast

Mike DiMauro@miked31784Senior Writer IJune 23, 2008

I feel that ESPN should be allowed to broadcast the baseball games that the local TV station broadcast. It is not fair to those who are either neutral baseball fans or those who hate their hometown team(s). I don't get why it's ok for national TV to be available for the same NBA games that local TV broadcast also. I think that Major League Baseball should lift the blackout restrictions for the baseball games.

Here's how Wikipedia explains about the blackouts:

  1. Local broadcast and cable stations which contract with a team to show their games in the local market have priority to televise those games over national broadcasters (assuming that the national broadcaster does not have exclusive rights to the game, as discussed below). If ESPN telecasts a game, and the game was scheduled to be telecast by the local rights holder, the game will be blacked out on ESPN in that market (usually replaced by ESPNEWS). Similar blackouts occur on other networks which telecast nationally, such as WGN, although this would be considered a local broadcast in Chicago respectively since the network only cover its local team (the game would be blacked out in the opponent's market only). (The same restriction was in place when TBS televised the Atlanta Braves which was a local broadcast in Atlanta.)

    Also, ESPN's blackout zone is larger than that of the superstations.

  2. The Fox network has exclusive nationwide rights for MLB games on Saturdays between 3:55 PM ET and 7:00 ET and ESPN has the same rights for games on Sunday after 8:00 PM ET. Games beginning in these periods of exclusivity can only be telecast by the network holding the exclusive national rights. Games that run long, such as extra inning games that run past 7 PM ET on Sundays, are not cut off. Also, ESPN sometimes waives this for the Texas Rangers and Florida Marlins. These two teams play in open-air stadiums in extremely hot climates, making night games a necessity in the summer months. For FOX, this generally applies to one time-slot per market, since its coverage is not usually a doubleheader. Thus, local television coverage is allowed during the other time-slot, but the game will not air on MLB Extra Innings. Starting with the new MLB TV contract in 2007, TBS will telecast a Sunday afternoon game-of-the-week, but no nationwide exclusivity is granted to the network. The same contract will grant Fox more flexible start times for broadcasts and may expand the window of exclusivity.

Here's the NBA's blackout rules:

The NBA used to black out nationally televised games on cable TV within 35 miles of the home team's market; however, these are now restricted to games on NBA TV, and MOJO-HD games on cable systems which do not carry NBA TV.

In my opinion, fans should see Red Sox games on ESPN if they want to and not just on the New England Sports Network (NESN), if they want to. I love my Red Sox, but I do not like NESN's coverage of the game. I also have some friends who are Yankees fans and they do not like the Red Sox and they can not watch the game on ESPN because they are forced to watch it on NESN. I also know that ESPN used to have an alternate game in the blacked out areas, but they now air ESPNEWS in the blacked out areas. I can say to everyone that I will be happy that when I move to Orlando, Florida in August that I will be able to see the Red Sox on ESPN and not have to worry about them being blacked out, unless they play the Tampa Bay Rays and they air it on a local station. I also feel that ESPN should not have two games from the same teams on the same week. ESPN plans to air the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox on both Monday and Wednesday Nights. This is also the third out of four times that ESPN has done this in the past two weeks.

Major League Baseball, please allow the fans to choose which network they get to watch the game on or show an alternate game, instead of ESPNEWS. Thank You!


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