Sports fans, claiming that local TV blackout rules are anti-competitive to their viewing pleasure, say that individual teams and their regional networks or broadcast stations should be able to compete with each other. So if you live in Los Angeles and want to buy and see an individual New York Yankees or New York Mets home game, you should be able to do so.
A U.S. District judge in New York believes these fans have a right to proceed with an anti-competitive case against Comcast, Time Warner, DirecTV, a number of sports teams and regional TV networks in regards to Major League Baseball and National Hockey League telecasts.
Of course, out-of-market games are available -- at a price. But sports fans don't like that program distributors are forcing them to also buy a bunch of other games. If you are a New York Yankees fan living in Dallas, you may just want to see individual Yankees games and nothing else.
Although a package of out-of-market games is available Judge Shira Scheindlen said that shouldn't prevent "individual teams from competing to sell their games outside their home territories in the first place."
Modern consumers want stuff anywhere and anytime, with not a lot of fuss -- and not a lot of packaging. You want to see or buy one episode of ABC's "Castle" from a year ago? You can do that.
Given the high price of maintaining and paying sports TV fees -- which in turn are monetized by the likes of Comcast, Time Warner and DirecTV -- you can be sure the distributors won't go down without a fight. DirecTV’s $224 price tag, for example, covers a package of 80 out-of-market games each week, including up to 40 games in HD. Sounds like a good moneymaker.
The National Hockey League already has its own troubles, as it now faces its second cancellation of an entire season in eight years. Again, the issue is all about million-dollar players looking to gain more for billionaire owners. Seems this time around sports fans might also want a hand in this, which will perhaps take some money out of the mix.
Another problem, tangentially connected, is that maybe those fans won't come back to the sport in the same degree they did last time around.
TV everywhere, anywhere, and any which way. Viewers are demanding it -- and calling out big sports leagues about it.