Are TV Blackouts Spilling Into Streaming? Not Really

For decades the news about potential TV blackouts in highly public struggles between pay TV providers and TV stations, cable networks and media platforms were used to sound alarm bells for consumers.

Where could consumers turn -- and what would they do about it? 

As it turns out, relatively nothing.

Programming hostages seem targeted to NFL games in particular -- and/or the start of the new TV season. 

But now those blackout situations and the threat they bring have become somewhat muted -- although not completely disappeared.

Widespread broadband and cellular phone access -- including of course streaming platforms -- allows consumers to have alternatives. Apart from live sports, they are never really shut out.

But we have evolved now into a different place.



Some politicians and social-media prognosticators recently have been complaining about what they felt was the NFL and NBCUniversal shutting out viewers from watching the Kansas City Chiefs beating the Miami Dolphins in a wild-card playoff game that aired exclusively on Peacock.

A recent letter that Rep. Pat Ryan (D-NY) sent NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NBC Sports President Rick Cordella said that “millions of loyal fans already pay for NBC. Let us watch the damn game!”

But do they pay specifically for NBC's streaming channel Peacock? No.

This outburst seems to model itself on the same emotional tone when it comes to those TV station “blackouts” -- as if someone is taking away some of their entertainment "rights" or worse: Like taking away your home electricity or gas.

Not sure that football is a right -- or any other programming, including news content. The latter is attached for many as a public service.

In reality, the Chiefs-Dolphins did not rise to that level. First off, loyal and local residents in Kansas City and Miami were able to see those games via their over-the-air NBC station affiliates.

And for those other non-hometown fans and general enthusiasts of all things NFL -- those fans could have paid $4.99 for a showing of the game on Peacock. That's a subscription for 30 days, when they can then easily cancel.

So who was really hurt here? 

For sure, legacy pay TV customers may still feel short-changed when they are spending $90 a month on cable, satellite, telco or virtual video programming packages -- that they are not getting all of what they want, need and paid for.

They have a right to complain, as well as demand a rebate.

But going forward as they seemingly have much more choice, flexibility and control over their entertainment -- including opting in and out of services -- what level of outrage over their entertainment situation is appropriate?

2 comments about "Are TV Blackouts Spilling Into Streaming? Not Really".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, January 17, 2024 at 1:52 p.m.

    I get it. The viewers are overlooking the big picture. All they see (or don't see) is the big game. I think they care more about the latter. What harm can come from government involvement? Plenty.

  2. Ben B from Retired, January 17, 2024 at 11:06 p.m.

    Proves that the playoff game on streaming was a flop and should've been on the main NBC than Peacock I didn't pay just to see one game not how I roll good thing that Chiefs VS Phfins was a blowout. As 5 out of 6 games were blowouts the only one that was pretty was Lions VS Rams Matt Stafford coming back to Detroit and Jared Goff facing his old the Rams. I was happy that the Lions came out and won the game and there first playoff win in 32 years last time the Lions won a playoff game was Jan, 5, 1992 38-6 Over The Cowboys, Jan, 14, 2024 that the Lions beat the Rams 24-23. And face the Bucs in there second home playoff game on Sun. 

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