Major League Baseball has long contended that fans should watch games in the manner in which it chooses, rather than how the fans themselves want to. This is the thinking behind its local blackout policies, first intended to "protect" ticket sales by not allowing the TV broadcast of games that weren't sold out, and lately, intended to "protect" local TV broadcasts by making it impossible for fans to watch their local team online. It takes the blackouts so seriously that it's even patented
a way to black out local users from online streams, an absurd show of pride in something that basically just frustrates fans and customers. But there may be some cracks appearing in the local online blackouts, as the New York Yankees, Cablevision and MLB have reached a deal for in-market streaming of games
. At first glance, the negotiations sound pretty convoluted, especially considering the Yankees own a stake in YES, the local TV rightsholder. But not surprisingly, the result -- that people in the Yankees' local market can only buy the online subscription if they're Cablevision subscribers that get the YES network in their cable package -- seems like it's par for the course for MLB, which has a penchant for trying to lock down everything
The amount of baseball that's broadcast on TV has boomed over the past couple of decades, having escaped the thinking that making the game harder for fans to follow on TV was somehow actually good for it. Now, the same thing is playing out online, where MLB seems hellbent on frustrating fans who want to see all of their teams' games online. What makes online different than TV, in that putting up these walls in front of the game's most dedicated fans is somehow a good thing?