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MLB should lift all TV blackouts for 2020

This would be an olive branch to fans.

This map should go... at least for 2020

Two weeks ago, I wrote here about reports that Major League Baseball had no plans to lift TV blackouts if the 2020 season were to be played.

Now, we have a MLB season, scheduled to begin July 23 or 24, if the COVID-19 pandemic permits, and it might not. We’ll see what happens in the interim.

I’m writing this article to plead with the folks who run MLB. If there are games, team owners and Commissioner Rob Manfred, please, please lift all TV blackouts.

There are a number of reasons to do so. First, the angry bickering between owners and players over the last month has turned a lot of fans off to baseball. A lifting of TV blackouts would be an olive branch to those fans to come back to the game and enjoy a shortened season which will be different from anything we’ve known.

Second, since fans will most likely not be allowed in ballparks this year, it will be a way for additional eyeballs on the product. There are some places where MLB games are blacked out where they really shouldn’t be — Iowa and Las Vegas come to mind, see the map above — and this would be a way for everyone to be able to watch Major League Baseball in 2020.

For Cubs fans, this might be the most important reason: Comcast/Xfinity and Marquee Sports Network have yet to sign a coverage deal. While I absolutely do expect one to be signed before any games are played, if any glitches happened, only about 40 percent of Cubs fans in the team’s market territory would be able to see games. That includes large portions of the city of Chicago, including this writer’s home. Opening up all games without blackout would solve this issue.

To be clear, the reason for TV blackouts isn’t to get you to go to the game. It’s to get you to call your cable/satellite provider and ask them to sign up with the regional sports network in question. I think you can see that’s not likely going to happen for anyone in 2020, when many are cutting the cord due to job loss and money being tight.

So do it, MLB. Not that my lonely voice into the wind is going to make a huge difference here or that anyone in the Commissioner’s office will even hear it. But lifting the blackouts — only for 2020, mind you, I’d understand if they’d put them back once a full 2021 season is played — is a win-win for everyone, a great gesture, something that would give MLB some positive media coverage, and likely it would make them some money, since there would probably be quite a few more people signing up for MLB.TV or MLB Extra Innings as a result.

What do you say, MLB? For once, can you do the right thing?


MLB should lift TV blackouts for 2020...

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