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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

MLB Blackouts

Great article yesterday by Maury Brown on BP related to MLB's blackout restrictions. My favorite paragraph.

"Got your aspirin at the ready? Here are some examples. If you live in Oklahoma City, your restrictions involve the Astros, Rangers, Royals and Cardinals. The entire east side of New Mexico has the Diamondbacks, Rockies, Astros and Rangers. All of Iowa is blanketed with the Cubs, White Sox, Royals, Brewers, Twins, and Cardinals as blackout clubs. Buffalo, NY has the Indians, Mets, Yankees and Pirates as part of their "market" for blackouts. Charlotte, NC is blacked out by the Braves, Orioles, Nationals, and Reds. And finally, the all-time winner is Las Vegas, where the Padres, Diamondbacks, A’s, Giants, Dodgers, and Angels are all parties to blackout restrictions."

As Maury documents the arcane rules used today are pretty much insane. But the central point I think is that the business model being employed was developed for an earlier time period that no longer makes sense. And in truth the model probably didn't make any sense at the time it was formulated as Maury notes. The underlying idea is that media availability of a baseball game dissuades consumers from actually coming to games. I've never seen any evidence that the premise is in fact true but my sense from being a fan myself and talking to others is that it clearly is not. Watching a game on TV or listening on the radio serves to heighten interest in the team and makes fans more interested in attending games, buying merchandise, attending games in other cities when the team is visiting and on and on. The value of regional sports networks makes this clear - fans are being created on a regional basis by, surprise, actually watching games.

Seems like no brainer that all blackout restrictions are at least anachronistic.

1 comment:

DM said...

Hi Dan,

Blackouts as protective of gate attendance is anachronistic, but as a means to enforce lucrative exclusive rights contracts with broadcasters, they are not at all. I did a quick and dirty analysis of this second point here.