In Cincinnati, and even outside markets, the Reds games are shown on Fox Sports. That network here in Cincinnati is Fox Sports Ohio. But that may differ where you live. You may not even be able to get that station in Cincinnati depending on who you use for your “cable” services. Dish Network and Sling have both been without Fox Sports Ohio for more than half of the year – both losing out on parts of last season’s Reds games. Add Youtube TV to the what feels like expanding list of services that will no longer be carrying Fox Sports Ohio.

On Thursday afternoon Youtube TV announced that they could not reach an agreement with Sinclair Broadcasting Group, who owns the Fox Sports Regional Sports networks, and beginning on February 29th, will no longer offer any Fox Sports RSN’s on their services. This is for more than just the Cincinnati Reds being affected here. This actually pulls 16 teams off of Youtube TV around the country.

When the rumors began to swirl last May that Sinclair was likely to win out in purchasing the Fox Sports RSN’s, Craig Edwards of Fangraphs wrote about how that was likely going to lead to some problems with how many people would actually be able to watch games because of how Sinclair had been dealing with various broadcast rights fees in the past. He even noted a hypothetical situation specific to Cincinnati within.

In January we saw Playstation Vue cease operations. Now we’ve got Sling and Youtube TV not offering Fox Sports Ohio. Among streaming services, I believe that leaves only Hulu Live TV offering Fox Sports Ohio. Dish Network doesn’t offer it as an option. Directv still does. As do both Spectrum and Cincinnati Bell Fioptics. In some cases, if you are rural enough, satellite is the only option you have because there isn’t a local “cable” company and your internet simply isn’t fast enough to stream – even in 2020.

What makes all of this even worse is that while Sinclair is the majority stake holder in these regional sports networks, many teams – including the Cincinnati Reds – own undisclosed amounts of these operations, too. That means that the Reds, via Sinclair, by asking for higher carriage fees for Fox Sports Ohio (and possibly other Sinclair owned stations as a part of a bundle to make Sinclair more money overall), are actively keeping their product from being seen by the exact people they want to see it – their fans.

This is just another thing that is going to kill Major League Baseball. They continue to wonder why young people don’t get into the game while they do literally every thing that they can to make it expensive to attend a game, watch a game, see highlights. Fans in Houston have gone YEARS without having access to Astros games. The same can be said for fans in Los Angeles with Dodgers games. No other company on the planet makes it more difficult for fans of their product to participate in the enjoyment of their product than Major League Baseball. That means that, assuming this isn’t fixed later today, that 18 teams will not be available on at least one major service in their city.

The state of Iowa doesn’t have a single Major League Baseball team in it. And yet they are blacked out from watching games from the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers, and the St. Louis Cardinals. When blackout rules were invented it was with the idea that getting fans to come to the game was far more valuable than letting them watch the games at home. Today that isn’t remotely close to the case. Every game is available on television – assuming of course, you can actually get the channel – and teams make way more money on their broadcasting rights than they do at the gate.

Major League Baseball needs to get it figured out. Short term profits over long term growth for a business that isn’t going to fail to make payroll next week is incredibly stupid. But it seems that the powers that be in baseball are operating almost entirely on profits today over the growth of their product in the long term. And eventually that’s going to kill the sport that has already been watching itself decline in popularity for three decades.

Updated February 29 at 12:34am

At least for now, Youtube TV will be keeping Fox Sports Ohio. According to the official Youtube twitter account, they have agreed to a temporary extension to keep things going.

Updated: March 5th

Eric Fisher of Sports Business is reporting that Sinclair and YoutubeTV have agreed to a deal that has approved 19 of the 22 Regional Sports Networks to remain on YoutubeTV. While all of the 19 weren’t listed, the three that are not on the deal were – and Fox Sports Ohio wasn’t on the list. Deductive reasoning suggests that would mean that it will be remaining on YoutubeTV.

35 Responses

  1. CFD3000

    That’s embarrassing. I’ve never lived in the Cincinnati TV market, so have never had blackout restrictions. First DirecTV, now MLB.TV have made it relatively easy to watch Reds games in Atlanta. But if I lived closer to Cincinnati and couldn’t watch the games without a ticket to GABP? I’d be howling mad. And how does MLB expect to generate new fans when it is in some cases impossible to watch your local team on TV? Embarrassing.

    I’m not a big protester, but Doug and the rest of RLN if there’s a way we can add our voices to other fans to clamor for change, please let me know. I love baseball and the Reds. It’s not acceptable that MLB should withhold its games from its fans. How can we best ask for change?

    • David Morris

      The blackout rules are completely ridiculous. I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Reds games are blacked out up here. I don’t understand how being in the Northeast part of Indiana can be considered part of the Cincinnati market. They are losing the money I would gladly play again.

      • Mark

        Get a VPN and you can make it look like your computer is in Atlanta – the Bahamas or pretty much anywhere – you’ll be outside the “blackout area”

    • Christopher Artrip

      I live in Huntington WV and have Dish. We missed out on the last half of last season on TV. It really sucks, longtime fan, always watched the games with my son even when they stink.

      • Kyle Bellomy

        Hey Chris ..I was in the same boat…I switched to Direct TV.

    • Jim H.

      Chattanooga is blacked out on MLBTV. Can’t get FSO here but blacked out anyway. Thankfully FSN South & Sports South pick up a large number of games, but not all of them.

  2. Frostgiant80

    I teach high school. Lots of kids play baseball and softball but I haven’t met on kid yet who watches baseball or even talks about MLB. This is going to become a major issue sooner rather than later. I can talk NFL and NBA with my students but have found no one besides other teachers that I can talk baseball with for a moment.

  3. Randy in Chatt

    Doug, you need to contact C. Trent at the Athletic and get this article published there. This is a problem. I am in Chattanooga, TN and fortunately we still get a rebroadcast of many Reds games on FoxSportsSouth (when they aren’t in competition with the Braves, Hawks, Grizzlies, SEC sports, Atlanta FC, Predators). We get maybe 80-100 Reds games down here during the season… far.
    However, to watch all Reds games in some format, we are still within their blackout region (we are 5 HOURS away for Pete sakes). The package is worthless because, not only do they blackout games at GABP but they blackout ALL Reds games, even if they are playing in Seattle or Philadelphia. That is beyond stupid.

  4. Hamer Campbell

    Great ! I switched from Dish to youtubeTV. Now I have to switch to Hulu.

    • Brian Rife

      I did EXACTLY THE SAME thing this week. Cancelled my longstanding Dish , moved to youtube TV. now, over to Hulu i guess. Sooo frustrating.

  5. RedNat

    I actually think the reds and the city do pretty well in keeping the costs down to attend a game. if you are willing to walk a bit, you can park for 5 bucks and you can usually buy a tickets for 10- 14 bucks at the gate.

    yes, I wish concessions were a little cheaper, but you can bring some food items into the game.

  6. Hotto4Votto

    MLB certainly doesn’t make it easy to be a fan. Didn’t get to watch the second half of last year on Sling, and probably won’t reactivate it this year without FSO. Sling was starting to get more expensive anyway as they recently raised their prices. It’s to the point where, by the time I pay for Sling and internet for streaming I might as well be back paying for cable. Oh well. More time to watch FC games for free on the local channels.

  7. TR

    I have Hulu live and I get Fox Sports Ohio. I hope that helps some of you out. It’s going to be a great year to watch the Reds!!!

  8. Brian Rife

    This is a very well timed post – thank you Doug. I’m in Bristol, TN, and the only options i have for watching Reds games appears to be DirecTV (never going back there again) or Hulu. I had just signed up for youtube Tv – still in my free week. So that experiment will end. My goodness. This is ridiculous.

  9. JoshG

    wth… I just got youtube tv last month so I can watch reds game ……..

  10. Vandermint

    Boxing is my favorite sport, and clearly it has plenty of problems. One though, is that for the better part of two generations it was behind the velvet rope of HBO and Showtime. (That is, when it wasn’t on PPV.) Not presenting yourself to your public is just crazy, if not suicide.

  11. RadisonRed

    I bought YouTubeTV specifically to watch Reds games. Granted, I watch the other channels, too. I just forked over $122 for like I do every year. The problem with is that I can’t watch the Red’s game until 90 minutes after it’s finished. This means that I’m always a day behind unless I’m willing to start the game at 10:30-11:00 at night which isn’t possible being that I have a 9-5 work schedule. This puts me a day behind always and about 1/4 of the games each year get ruined for me because someone says “The Reds lost”, or I hear it on TV/radio etc. It’s maddening. I was excited this year to be able to watch most of the games live on YouTubeTV.

    • Matt WI

      I think my father-in-law just did the same thing about ditching cable for Youtube and now he’s gonna be so mad. He was so proud of the deal and spent HOURS arguing with cable before doing it.

      I’ve had DISH for a long while and would be getting Brewers games if they hadn’t broken up with the FSN regionals too. I can do for the Reds, but I enjoy being able to flip on the Crew from time to time. Like Doug has been saying, it is ridiculous that this is even a problem. I always get the and use that more than anything for the Reds.

  12. Derek

    I live 5 and a half hours away form GABP and close to 6 from the Braves here in East Tennessee.

    I am considered “black out” for Reds and Braves.

    Granted I can get Fox Sports but they decide who will play and its typically the Braves over the Reds since its Fox Sports South and not Ohio feed.

  13. Gonzo Reds

    In Florida so paid to watch on Dish via MLB last year, will do the same this year. Had I been a Marlins or Rays fan I wouldn’t have been happy of course with the FS/Dish alienation. Actually, not sure anyone noticed down here since there aren’t any Marlins or Rays fans. 😉 Keep saying they need to combine those 2 teams and base them in Orlando.

    • Gonzo Reds

      Checked and we do play the Rays but in Cincy so shouldn’t be any blackout issues there. Play 3 games at the Marlins in September that will likely be blacked out here in Florida with no FS FL on Dish right at crunch time for a playoff spot. Actually, we finish with 6 on the road this year at the Marlins and Pirates both of whom will be playing youngsters, although maybe not as many as usual with the new call up rules.

      • Gonzo Reds

        Fixed my issue with not getting those 3 games at the Marlins… I booked the RV at Key Largo that week. Bout an hour drive to the park. LOL

  14. Brennan

    I can confirm that VPN services like Express VPN do work in getting around the restrictions. I’m in the Cincinnati market and as a season ticket holder (20 games, not the full season) I get a free subscription to I use Express VPN + on Amazon Fire TV to watch the games I don’t have tickets to.

    I have to pay $13/month to Express VPN though for the ability. It’s just more money that’s not going to baseball and instead going to someone else.

    • Mark

      There’s free VPNs – Mine cost about $3 a month with a 3 year subscription. (CyberGhost)

  15. B-town fan

    Doug, I am glad you brought this up, I talked about this earlier in the week here in a post. I currently have Dish, I left Comcast 3ys ago because of continually escalating costs. I had been looking at Youtube TV but now that’s out the window. This is going to get worse though for fans, because the contract for Comcast and Sinclair/Fox sports is up June 1st and from what I’ve read there’s a good chance Comcast isn’t likely to sign a new one based on the same issues in the Dish dispute. I don’t want to switch back to Comcast, to much trouble, and especially if it’s not going to have Reds games. I read where Liberty media had a reasonable offer for Fox Regional Sports that would not have resulted in this situation based on more reasonable revenue projections and structure, but Sinclair came in at the last moment and out bid at the last minute by quite a lot. As for me I am not going switch all over the place to watch Reds games. I guess I’ll be doing different things this summer that watching Reds games, which is kinda sad since the Reds are going to be very competitive maybe really competitive this season.

  16. Andy

    MLB should be actively trying to buy themselves out of these huge contracts that teams got themselves stuck in. Letting individual owners negotiate 30 year contracts has been a windfall for owners and a disaster for the long-term health of the league.

    If they ever regain the rights to their own broadcasts, I’d like to see them try and get all Sunday games free over the air the way NFL does.

  17. Greg1990

    Last year I was in Cooperstown when I tried to stream a Reds game at Citi Field against the Mets. Even though I subscribed to and DirectTV Now, the game was blacked out on both the Fox Sports app and I guess MLB assumes I was going to hop in the car and drive the four hours to take in the game since I couldn’t watch it on TV. 🙁 I’d really like someone at MLB show the evidence how blackouts protect the ratings, game attendance, or the subscriber counts of the cable/satellite/streaming networks that carry the games. All they do is anger the heaviest users of the product, for no measurable gain. I would pay a premium for an enhanced package that was blackout free, but I dropped the package this year due to the many blackouts I experienced last year even when I was traveling out of the Cincinnati market.

  18. Nick in NKY

    Get a VPN, and go visit the MLB Streams sub on Reddit on your PC or tablet. Free.

    I work second shift, but usually have a fair amount of desk/bench time in the evening. I frequently put the Reds game on in the summer while I tinker with whatever I’m working on. You need to beware the spyware from clicking on ads and other bait, but if you can avoid that you can usually get a 90% quality stream that’s safe.

    And let me be the first to say; if they dump the ridiculous blackout rules I’d be the first to go ahead and pay for, but I’m not ponying up cash to watch every other team. The whole arrangement is insult to fans.

    • Doug Gray

      This isn’t really a solution for a large percentage of people, though. And it’s definitely not a plan that MLB or the Reds are going to be happy with telling fans to do.

      Baseball needs to find a solution at large.

  19. KDJ

    Here in central NC with Spectrum the only Reds games that are available are when the Reds play Atlanta. The other televised games are blacked out, and we are nearly 500 miles away. I guess they think if I can’t watch it on TV, I’ll just hop over for the evening game. Ridiculous!

  20. Redgoggles

    I switched from Sling to Hulu Live TV last year for this very reason (and Big Ten Network). I agree, it needs fixed.

  21. Hebron Reds Fan

    This has gotten ridiculous. Guess what Reds, MLB, and Fox Sports Ohio—-young people don’t have cable. They stream everything and there is tons of competition for their attention. If you want to keep killing this game–continue this petty BS. I’m 51 and I cut the cord a couple of years ago and I refuse to go back. Sling is the cheapest and has the best channel line up. Not sure I am going to be willing to switch to HULU to pay $10 more and get overall less channels just to watch the Reds. I love watching games–but I am just about done bending over backwards to accommodate greed. Fix this and accommodate your fan base while you still have one.

  22. Bradley Barnhart

    Have to comment. Cut the cord on all these cable\dish idiots last year. Got Hulu live for $50 a month and can watch all the Reds games I want on all my devices. Love it. It was the reason I went with them was to watch the reds.

  23. Doug Gray

    This story has been updated with new information as Youtube TV and Sinclair have agreed to a temporary extension to keep Fox Sports Ohio while they continue to negotiate.

  24. Mountaineer Redleg

    I’ve been life long fan living in the huntington wv area the fox sports broadcasts have brought me my redlegs for years and i have faithfully watched and enjoyed them even in the past few lean years i take my family to the game in cincinnatti twice a year , a trip that costs hundreds of dollars each time Sinclair and the reds evidently don’t value this relationship i can’t get a broadcast at all and MLB is blacked out So as of now i no longer care and my evenings will be spent in other ways. your greed is ruining your sport. and its becoming irrelevant to me and many others including most of the young people i know…….