Baseball fans win concessions in online blackout settlement, cord cutters don't
Sports fans can rejoice that their favorite out-of-town team will no longer be blacked, but only if you subscribe to cable or satellite TV.
DirecTV, Comcast, and Major League Baseball have agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over online blackouts of local baseball games, but there’s no good news for cord cutters here. While fans will now have the option to purchase blackout-free, single-team streaming packages, they must subscribe to cable or satellite television to be eligible.
$85 per year will get you all games from a single team without blackouts, according to the settlement’s terms. This is better than the $110 home-team-only and $125 home-and-away team packages offered last year. In either case, if your team was in your home area, the game was blacked out.
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Under the new plan, there will also be the option to add your favorite team to the home-team-only option for an extra $10 a month, but the blackout policy remains for any other team playing in your home region.
Why this matters: While it’s not the best deal in the world, it’s better than the status quo. It’s similar to another deal for single-team packages that the National Hockey League agreed to last June. What disappoints us is the fact that it’s still tied to cable TV; so if you want to cut the cord completely, you’re out of luck when it comes to some sports.
The problem is the torrent of money those exclusive broadcasting rights generate. No business—and professional sports is definitely a business—will give up that cash flow easily. But as more and more consumers opt for streaming services over cable or satellite, that revenue stream will eventually begin to dry up.
Will that be a year, a few years, or a decade from now? It’s hard to say.