It’s 2021 and thanks to technology we have access to nearly anything that we can dream of at the touch of a button from a small device that we carry in our purses and our pockets. For the last 20 years Major League Baseball has offered up the ability to watch out of market games to fans through It’s truly a great service, and it actually began the whole streaming content thing a decade before anyone else even tried it. It was so far ahead of the game at one point that MLB Advanced Media was hosting other companies streams because they were the only place that had the understanding and capacity to do it.

But there was a problem with, too. It had blackouts if you were in a teams market. In some places that is a far bigger issue than others. In Cincinnati you can’t stream Cincinnati Reds games through without jumping through questionable hoops that aren’t technically illegal, but are a violation of the user terms and agreement. The reason for that has always been that the Reds are available to you in the greater Cincinnati area through your cable or satellite provider who carries your regional sports network.

Major League Baseball wants those cable and satellite companies to carry the regional sports network because they make tens and hundreds of millions of dollars per year from those companies for the broadcast rights to the games. The only way that works out for the regional spots network is if they can get all of the subscribers to these cable and satellite packages to pay the carriage fee for that channel, whether they watch it or not. A decade ago nearly everyone had a cable or satellite and it was only an issue for people in Iowa, who were (and still are) blacked out of six teams despite there not being an actual Major League Baseball team in the state of Iowa. By-and-large if you had a pay-for-television service you had access to the channel that broadcasted your games you were looking for.

In the last five years or so a lot of that has changed. More and more streaming services became available that were defacto cable companies, but were cheaper and had fewer channels. They were a way to save customers some money from bloated packages of 250 channels that only featured 10 that your family actually watched.

But the money saved with those things has slowly, but surely, eroded away. SlingTV first came out and it was $25 for a solid channel selection and for $5 more you could add your regional sports network. That beat just about any and all package deals that any cable company could offer even if you also got your internet service from them. Playstation Vue (also no longer exists), Youtube TV, Hulu Live, and several others have also popped up. They also all began with lower price points that made things make sense if you switched to their services.

Fast forward to today and YoutubeTV starts at $65 a month. Hulu Live also starts at $65 a month. SlingTV starts at $35 a month. Right now none of those things come with Bally Sports (whatever city), meaning that about 20 teams regional sports networks aren’t available if you have these services. When you toss in that you are probably paying $60-70 for your internet service, you’re looking at $130 for internet and cable that doesn’t provide you the ability to watch your baseball team play their games. Most cable companies will provide a bundle for that price that includes your regional sports network. We are at a point where you probably aren’t saving any money “cutting the cord”, especially if your cable company provides an app that you can use and don’t need all of their “boxes” that they like to include for each television at $5 a pop.

But one thing that these “streaming wars”, so to speak, have led to is that more than enough people have decided that they can go without having the ability to watch the games. Radio is free (as long as you have a radio), and this year at least in the greater Cincinnati area, you can also now stream the games through iheartradio on your smart devices. Some have even found less ethical and borderline illegal ways to watch the games via the internet because they still want to watch the games but they just aren’t offered the ability on their platform of choice.

That’s bad news for both Major League Baseball and for the regional sports networks. Without having access to their numbers, it’s tough to say exactly how long they can eat the money from not lowering their price to places like Hulu or Youtubetv to be on those services. For Major League Baseball, it’s keeping people from fully enjoying their product, and finding that maybe they can be ok with less baseball in their life. It eventually means less money for them, too. While most TV deals are still on the books for the next decade and that money is coming in unless their regional sports network goes out of business, many of the teams are also partial owners of these networks and that might take a hit in the near term due to less advertising dollars and of course, less carriage fee dollars since they aren’t in nearly as many homes.

In the long run it is also costing Major League Baseball plenty of money if there aren’t as many fans in the next generation because they simply didn’t have access to the games as easily as the generation before them did.

It’s understandable if within, say, 90 miles of a city that has a Major League Baseball team there is a blackout rule for If you are that close to the city then whoever your regional sports network is, they are almost guaranteed to be offered on a cable/streaming package that is available to you. Sure, if might not be on Hulu or YoutubeTV, but you can probably get it through traditional cable or satellite. It is an option available for you, even if you don’t necessarily want to take that option. I would prefer Ted Lasso to be on Netflix, but it’s not. But I wanted to watch it so I signed up for Apple TV in order to see it. Same principal.

But the problem really arises when you don’t have the option to watch your favorite team play. Ian Happ spoke about this on Thursday, noting that his mom couldn’t watch the Cubs opening series against Pittsburgh because she lived in Columbus, Ohio and was blacked on via

Neither regional sports network that carries the game (the Cubs RSN or the Pirates RSN) is available in Columbus, Ohio on any package. Yet she still couldn’t watch the game through When there is literally not an option aside from moving to another area of the country, then your rules are broken and need to be fixed.

The solution feels rather simple to me: If a game is not available where you live on a service that is available to you (as in you could purchase it from Cable Company XYZ – not just, it’s not available on YoutubeTV or whatever), then it should be watchable on This would be a big step in the right direction in many places where a team is considered “in market”, but isn’t really. Places like Nashville, Tennessee. That’s the Reds market. But they don’t get Bally Sports Ohio, which carries all of the non-national broadcasts. Their Bally Sports only carries some of the Reds games. But they are blacked out of all of the Reds games on Fans in Nashville should have the option to watch all games not available through Bally Sports in Nashville through

The fans are willing to pay money to watch the games. Stop making it so that they just aren’t given the option. And while you’re at it – since most teams have a partial ownership stake in Bally Sports – apply some pressure to get them on more carriers. Dish Network is now two years in to not having Fox Sports/Bally Sports on their service. So much of this stuff is how baseball has been operating for a while now – short term thinking about maximizing profits over long term gains where the profit is a slower drip.

The first version of this article indicated that SlingTV no longer existed. It definitely still exists and has been corrected.

109 Responses

  1. Mark Moore

    Never happier to live out of market. Add to that my phone carrier providing for me and I’m good except for Nats and Orioles games.

    Well written, Doug. It’s a penny wise and pound foolish solution. Kind of like our ownership.

  2. Don A

    You are spot on Doug!! MLB is so archaic with these blackouts! I am willing to pay for MLB extra innings on Dish to watch the Reds, but they are blacked out for me and I am Three hours from Cincinnati here in West Central Indiana. Last year I tried to switch to DirecTv and could not even get it installed (Research shows that AT&T has ruined DirecTv and really wants everyone on their streaming service. I do not have good enough internet for that).

    Hopefully MLB will wake up and start letting people actually pay them to watch their favorite team no matter where they are located.

    Also, even if you purchase, say, Extra Innings, are you not watching the local sports network feed and the commercials they air?

  3. Rick in Tirol

    A VPN would be a cost effective solution. Simply change your IP address. I live in Europe and I regularly stream content from the United States. Most VPN providers have multiple servers on either coast. NordVPN for example has regular deals, I always renew my subscription during Black Friday sales.

    • Doug Gray

      If I’ve been reading the internet correctly the last week…. MLB has basically put an end to almost all VPN work arounds.

      • Rick in Tirol

        You might be right… However I just tried switching my VPN to France and then turned on last night’s game. It worked fine.

        Again, I use NordVPN but there are plenty of others out there. I don’t get a cut from them or something, just saying it might work for some of you Reds fans. You don’t have to switch servers within the USA, switching to a server in Europe for example seems to work.

        This article seems to say the same thing:

        If you can get a free trial version of one of these VPNs then you can try risk free.

        Worth a shot

      • Doug Gray

        Two different message boards I frequent have long-going threads about VPN’s and a ton of people have been having zero luck with Nord VPN (and others) during the season. They’ve even contacted Nord VPN about it and have been told that “we are working on it” – so it’s a known issue that Nord VPN is acknowledging and trying to “fix”.

      • Larry R

        It was great growing up in the 60’s and 70’s and just turning on a TV and watching the Cubs on WGN over the air. I dont know if I was 10 years old right now if I would have the patience and knowledge (passwords) to get online and watch a simple baseball game. We are definitely loosing new generations.

  4. AndrewMan

    Nice and timely article Doug. I have been free of cable for about 6 years now. I am never going back. I had YoutubeTv for a while with the sole benefit of being able to watch Reds games. No longer an option. I have now fallen into some less ethical ways to watch. It’s really a hassle though. I should be able to simply watch the games if I choose to pay for them through an app or whatever. MLB has really done a disservice to their fans. It really boggles my mind how they plan to grow the game when it is a pain in the butt to even watch a game. I am jumping through hoops just to watch a baseball game. It is amazing to me there isn’t a better plan for this but MLB is poor at planning everything it seems like. Poor management and communication on their part.

    • greenmtred

      Baseball has seemed, for some time, to have a problem attracting younger fans. MLB talks about tinkering with the game in ways to make it shorter, but that seems to me to be a myopic line of thought: tinker as they will, baseball is not going to be a great sport for people who demand a brief and action-packed experience–unless it becomes something other than baseball, that is. In the meantime, as Doug so ably points out, it is difficult for millions and millions of fans and potential fans to watch the game, seemingly because of very short-term and short-sighted profitability issues.

    • Hotto4Votto

      If either or Bally Sports had their own app, free of black outs, and just charged monthly I’d gladly pay 10-15 bucks a month just to watch the Reds. Those options don’t seem to exist. I agree it’s pretty poor management on MLB’s part.

  5. Charles McMillan

    The “illegal” methods are only illegal because someone wants to make money. It’s not inherently bad, it’s closer to bringing your own candy to the movie theater. But when it’s easier and cheaper to do the illegal thing why do the non-illegal thing? If mlbtv offered a package to remove the blackout I’d pay it. It’d still half the price of NBA and NFL packages. Mlb just needs to decide what’s more important fans or money.

  6. Ryan

    It’s a very frustrating situation. My family (two kids) literally only needs one channel: Bally Sports, in order to watch the Reds. Can’t watch them through because we live in Cincinnati and the only other option is to pay $70 per month to a cable/streaming provider. I love the Reds and would gladly shell out $20 a month just for Reds games (and nothing else), but I can’t bring myself to pay $70.

  7. Frostgiant80

    As a Reds fan that lives out of market (Virginia), has been great. I never got to see games much growing up and I make up for it now. By the way Sling TV is still around it is owned by dish network though but still competes with the other wire cutting companies.

    • Chip

      That was well done. Especially the 3rd paragraph which explained the situation as well as anywhere I’ve seen.

  8. Hotto4Votto

    Unless I’m using something different, Sling is still around. It’s what I used all winter/spring to watch basketball. It doesn’t carry Bally (or previously FSO since like mid-2019) so I pause it once basketball’s over. But yeah, I’m not going back to cable, and even Sling with the extra sports package was $40/month. So, living in Cincinnati I don’t really have an option to watch the Reds. It’s unfortunate but I’ve accepted it and largely just check in on the internet.

    • Doug Gray

      People need to stop saying they don’t have an option. You do have an option. You don’t want to take that option.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Without going back to cable, I don’t have an option. Is that better?

      • Doug Gray

        Yes, that’s a lot better because it means you actually have an option but because of your stubbornness, you won’t take it. AT&T streaming, or Directv are also options for you.

        And this is from the absolutely most stubborn human being on the planet. I won’t give Skyline another cent of mine. I won’t give Spectrum another dime unless I wind up somewhere that they are literally the only option I have for the internet. Trust me, I get the idea behind it all. But words matter.

      • Ryan

        Agreed. However, along with your article, my hope is that there are enough people not willing to pay the $70+ per month (but willing to pay $10-20) that baseball will figure out how to keep their fans engaged. Also, I think I heard that Balley Sports was planning their own stand-alone streaming service? Have you heard anything about that?

      • Doug Gray

        That’s “on target” for next year at some point. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s rolled out, and just how bad it actually is (from what I’ve read, it’s going to basically be a gambling app that also has sports you can watch – they want you to gamble on every single thing you watch).

      • donny

        So what is the option ? Move live somewhere else ?

      • donny

        nevermind , comments are moving fast/

      • Hotto4Votto

        Ok, well in the post you responded to, I said I wasn’t going back to cable. So it seems like the same sentiment you said was better was already implied in the comment you took offense to. It’s been over 9 years since my wife and I cut the cord and I have no desire to go back. As you mentioned in your article, people don’t want to pay for tons of channels they don’t watch. It’s an option, sure, just the same as Momma Haap could have driven to Pittsburgh to watch her son play. It was an option, just not one she wanted to make.
        I also don’t know how my personal financial decisions comes down to stubbornness. My wife and I budget so we can afford the things we want. We don’t want to pay for things we don’t use, which is what paying for cable, direct tv etc would be. That makes me stubborn?

      • Doug Gray

        I took the comment “I’m not going back to cable” as stubborn since you still have another cable package (you said you used Sling). Perhaps it’s just me reading into it and basically the response of so many other “cord cutters” that they just won’t go back to “cable” because they hate cable companies despite the fact that they are just now paying another cable company who just isn’t running the wire from the telephone pole to their house and instead just gives them their cable package via the other cable running to their house that supplies their internet.

        If that’s a description of you – one who just refuses to go back to a “cable company” because cable companies suck, then yeah, that’s you being stubborn. If you aren’t going back to cable because Sling gives you better deals (but not the channel you really want) – that’s not stubborn, but it does suck for you (and many others because you are without the games that you seem to really want to watch).

      • Hotto4Votto

        The decision to go to Sling is financially driven, it’s a lot cheaper even with the sports package than what I paid for cable, even 9 years ago. I also have more control over channels I choose to pay for. I can also pause it for months at a time when I want without paying anything. Overall I feel it offers a better option for my dollar. If cable was as affordable as Sling (or even some of the other live streaming options) or I had more control over what channels I paid for I wouldn’t be opposed to going back, but I don’t see that happening. I would pay for just Bally or MLB (if no blackouts), but just don’t want to pay for all the other channels I wouldn’t watch.

      • Doug Gray

        I can’t speak for you, because I don’t know what the pricing is exactly where you live (for some reason even within the same city the pricing varies depending on where you live), but with Cincinnati Bell Fioptics I’m at just under $100 a month for insanely fast internet and a low-end cable package through them in a bundle that includes Bally Sports – which is the only channel I even watch. Before I added the “cable” to my bundle, my internet bill was $65 a month. So I’m paying “Sling” prices for my cable, but I get to watch the Reds. Not everyone may be able to get that price point depending on their specific needs to TV’s, boxes, and whatever. And I know that at the last place I lived, I wouldn’t have been able to do this because there I couldn’t get true high speed internet through Cincinnati Bell, so I wouldn’t have used their service because I need actual internet speeds given my job. But it’s worth looking into for some people.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Well that’s good information. Things may have changed since I last looked, seems like it has some. Back in the day (9 years ago)the cable was in the $65-75 range, not including internet. I think we pay close to $90 for high speed internet now, but Cincinnati Bell was not an option when/where we bought our house. Originally Sling was $25 with the sports package, now almost $40. It’s hard to keep up.

      • Doug Gray

        Yeah – it probably depends on your specific needs. I don’t need boxes for all of the TV’s, need a very trimmed down channel lineup (though this one is pretty solid), don’t need DVR services…. all of that helps keep my price down. If you need a box at each TV that also has a DVR, then the price is certainly going to increase some.

        As it is with most things – your mileage may vary depending on your specific needs.

      • Chris Miller

        Good article, and really spot on. I’m one of the victims of this nonsense, due to living in Nashville. So often, I turn the tv on for the game, and find out my option is Braves baseball, or a Girls Basketball game, or a Predators game, etc. Once NCAA baseball WS starts, I’ll have one of those games that will block out the Reds. Baseball continues to miss the obvious, and has for years. BUT PLEASE DON’T tell me I have an option when I don’t, unless of course an option to you is suggesting that I move.

      • Oxfordsport

        I Don’t have an option, other than giving up the Reds. I live in a rural area SW of Dayton and cable is not here. My internet is via DSL, it comes over the phone line. I pay a premium for 17MBPS and it rarely passes 12 .

  9. Vada Pinson

    I live in Wilmington, NC and subscribe to MLBTV. However, when I travel to Charlotte, NC I am blacked out of all Reds home games. The blackout rules make no sense.

    • Kenneth S Polk

      I live right outside Charlotte (450+miles from Cincinnati) and I am blacked out on the MLB ap. My cable provider used to carry the Reds game on our regional Fox Sports but no longer with the changes. For the life of me I can’t figure out why we are blacked out. I subscribed to the MLB ap thinking I would have access live. But no. It is frustrating.

      • Eric

        It’s completely garbage. I have YouTubeTV and couldn’t find the Cincinnati Reds game listed tonight, so it said I could sign up for the add-on to my YouTubeTV service.. so I went ahead and added the package. I then searched for tonight’s game (which is in San Francisco – not like I can just drive down the street to go to the game when I’m in Cincinnati).. and I subscribe to the service which is supposed to only black out some local games, not out of town games. WTF is the point of offering the package if it doesn’t provide me with what it says it includes? So the MLB needs extra money… great, I just signed up to pay $24.99/month for the ability to watch my local teams games, and now it can’t even provide that to me? Doesn’t make any sense!!

      • Doug Gray

        Out of town games are also blacked out if you are “in market”, which for the Reds you are as a Cincinnati resident. Seems that Youtube misled you.

  10. DJ

    I’m a lifelong Reds fan now residing in Nashville. Thank you for acknowledging my pain.

  11. SultanofSwaff

    I have running on my firestick, so just an internet bill for me. Blackouts here in the Chicago area means I can’t see 18-20 games per year. That’s unacceptable, so my workaround is a VPN blocker. It lets me choose my ‘location’, so I pick salt lake city and never have any issues seeing ALL the games. I don’t feel the least bit guilty because I paid for 162 games, not 142.

    All in, I pay about a buck a game. I feel that’s a good value, especially when you consider all the cool features on the app—-multiple broadcast options, fast forwarding/rewind, condensed games, etc.

    • Doug Gray

      You didn’t pay for 162, though. You knew you would be blacked out when you bought the service. You can twist yourself into the knot of “you paid for it”, but you really didn’t. MLB isn’t doing the right thing, but you aren’t exactly doing the right thing, either.

  12. enfueago

    These rules are hard enough on existing fans but also work against adding new ones and adding interest in the game. I grew up a Reds fan but my interest in the game generally grew a lot from watching Cubs and Braves all the time because they were on the cable “superstations” and thus a lot more available. I have no doubt a lot of new fans were created for both teams (and hopefully the game generally) simply because they were on. Its hard to become a fan if you have to actively seek out the games before you are hooked.

  13. Buckeye_HB

    “SlingTV no longer exists, but when it first came out it was $25 for a solid channel selection and for $5 more you could add your regional sports network. That beat just about any and all package deals that any cable company could offer even if you also got your internet service from them.”

    Doug, SlingTV still exists, I have used the service for a number of years now. They have a “Blue” package and “Orange” package $35 each or $50 for both I think. Mine is a little cheaper because I have been with them for awhile. Since I live in California the only Reds games that are blacked out for me are against the Dodgers.

  14. Bred

    MLB has no regard for fans, but are they evil geniuses or they undermining their product? At this time they would rather make a high profit from each viewer resulting in fewer fans accessing games instead of smaller profits from each viewer with more eyes on the game. This is not a unique business model. I don’t know about NHL or NBA, but the NFL definitely follows this model. The only way to watch out of market NFL game is via Direct TV and pay $300 fo the Ticket. The only work arounds are “illegal”. It works for the NFL, but the MLB by virtue of The Big 162 has saturated the market with games everyday in contrast to the more popular NFL team playing just 16 games. We will see, but I think the MLB is making a mistake in not making games easier to view.

    • Eric

      Be that was it may, it said I could watch my local MLB games if I’d sign up for a package, so I signed up for $24.99/month, and yet it still has my local team blacked out when they are playing a game 3,000 miles away!! MLB doesn’t even care about anyone paying them money if they won’t deliver games people are trying to pay them money to provide.

  15. Doug Gray

    Updated the article to correct the comment about SlingTV.

    My bad.

  16. Westfester

    Depriving access to baseball to the general public will be the REAL cause of the death of baseball. Baseball is intentionally blocking younger individuals who primarily stream their TV services from watching games (I’m 40, and would rather take 5 shots to the nether regions than go back to cable and deal with their “customer service”). Combine that with the ever increasing cost to attend and play a game (Next Saturday’s game, section 509 $90 PER TICKET), and you’re looking at a niche sport that’s exceedingly progressing towards being exclusive to the upper class; similar to Golf.

  17. donny

    I bought the single team package for the Reds and i can’t watch the games period. Even when they are on the road in Arizona. I am blocked out for every single Reds games including the ones on the road.
    I called MLB.TV and ask them about it and they said it’s because of the Reds and the teams choice to do so.

    I live 206.5 miles away from Cincinnati .

    • Doug Gray

      You should not be blacked out of road games that aren’t within your market. You need to call them back, particularly tonight if you are blacked out of the game in San Francisco. If you are 206 miles from Cincinnati it would make sense if you were blacked out of road games in Cleveland, Chicago, maybe St. Louis, maybe Atlanta – depends on which direction those 206 miles are. But nowhere 206 miles from Cincinnati is in the San Francisco market, and there’s no way you should be blacked out of those games. So call them tonight.

      • donny

        I will call them again today , but that is what i thought when i bought the package. ”That i can’t watch any games that are in Cincinnati, Cubs, White Sox and Tigers”, But i can watch the Indians games that are 223.3 miles away . As i live in North central part of Indiana .

        Thanks Doug, i will call them back again.

      • Jonathan Linn

        Doug, I am also from Northern Indiana (South Bend/Mishawaka) and i am blocked out as well. I bought it last year for the playoffs and couldn’t watch any Reds games. I am also blocked out from listening to WLW on Iheartradio as well. AM 700 comes in very fuzzy up here…Night games come in better than day…but its still really fuzzy. Hopefully I won’t be blocked out by if i buy the MLB Radio package….

      • jim walker

        @Johnathan Linn. I live in the Dayton, OH area and have had the radio package for years and have never been blocked from any Reds broadcasts. My only caveat would be that I haven’t tried to listen to any yet this year.

        If you are new to the service, assuming it is the same as in past seasons, a really neat feature is that the games are archived so a person can go back and listen to any game within a season at any time of their choosing or convenience. So, literally, every game of every team is available in both real time and on demand.

      • RedsMonk65

        Yes, the audio package is actually a good deal. For $20 a year, you can listen to any Reds game — or that of any other team — any time you’d like. I’ve had a subscription now for five years. Never have I been blacked out (I live in southwest Indiana).

        Now, the streaming service to actually watch the games — different story entirely.

      • Oxfordport

        I was blacked out of all the Arizona games and Sunday/Monday games on YouTube Tv

    • Randy in Chatt

      I live 359 miles away from Cincinnati in the Chattanooga area. We get Bally Sports Ohio here…..when they are not in direct competition from the Braves, the Grizzlies, the Predators (NHL), certain SEC sports and Atlanta FC (MLS).

      In other words, we don’t get them very often.

      I echo Donny’s frustration about the blackouts. I also concur about “away” games, not just games at GABP being blacked out. I could only watch one of the three Reds at Diamondbacks games and that was only because the Reds did not have a conflict with the other 4+ teams above.

      I’ve voiced my frustration to MLB but it was to deaf ears. Doug, or anyone else, you mentioned that we CAN do something about blacked out away games. What do we need to do?

      One solution is to get Trevor Bauer on this. Someone should tweet him (and other ballplayers) and let them know our frustrations and that MLB is killing its own following and that baseball will soon turn into an elitist sport that only a certain few can afford and enjoy. I’d love to hear TB go off on this topic.

      • Doug Gray

        If the away game is truly blacked out via MLBtv and it shouldn’t be, you can call them. If you just can’t get it because you live in Nashville and your station simply isn’t carrying it…. that just sucks, unfortunately. Not really sure what you can do in that situation other than hope for the best – this is one of the scenarios where baseball simply needs to find a solution similar to that of what I mentioned in the article – if you can’t actually access the game because you have the station but the station isn’t carrying it, you should be able to get on via MLBtv. Right now they don’t allow that and it’s truly stupid.

    • Eric

      Same problem here and I’m IN Cincinnati.. It literally popped up and said if I’d like to stream the Cincy/SF game, I can sign up for the MLB package on youtubetv.. so I went through the steps to add the package. Logged back into my service and it says I’m restricted from watching that game. Not like I am going to book a flight to fly across the country to watch all of their games, so even though I’m paying $24.99/month specifically so I can watch the Red’s games… they want to prevent me from doing so? If they’re going to alienate those willing to pay them… how do they expect anyone to support the league? Completely useless.

      • Doug Gray

        Youtube lied to you. You need to call and get a refund. Don’t wait too long or they’ll probably try to claim you are making up the reason why you actually want a refund.

  18. Klugo

    Yes! I’m out-of-market for Reds Bally broadcasts, but in-market for, and blacked-out of, any MLB TV or ESPN games. Makes no sense! Am I in or out? How am I both?! Christ on a crutch.

    • Doug Gray

      I *think* when a nationally televised game is available to you, then MLBtv blacks it out. So if the game is on Fox or ESPN, they want you to have to watch it there. Same premise as it being available in your market through Bally Sports – if you can subscribe to get that channel in your area through some service, that’s how they make you watch it.

      • Chris Miller

        That is an issue as well. I lived in CA before moving to Nashville, and every Saturday day Reds game was blacked out on doesn’t tell you that though. When I moved to Nashville, I had no idea that I was in the Cincy area for Reds games, so I went to a VPN my first year here. MBL is not entirely up front with it’s fans when it comes to it’s streaming of games.

  19. Doug Gray

    If you’re going to bring up politics I’m deleting your post. Four have already been taken down this morning. We aren’t going there.

  20. IndyRedsFan

    I’d be interested in the other Indiana fans experiences. Living in Indy, seeing Reds games is very hit and miss. For the past 9 years, I paid for a cable system that carried Fox Sports Midwest. They had the rights to the Reds games, but only televised maybe 30% of the games that Fox Sports Ohio carried.
    Often I would tune in to see a game, and find girls softball, wrestling, or college bowling on instead.

    This year, I’ve moved and am on a differnt cable system. I’ve also been busy and have only tried to tune into 2 games,,,,and both times, nothing came up.

    • Rednat

      I Live in Richmond Indiana and i have FOX sports Indiana through comcast (now Bally sports) . i would say about 80-90 % of the reds game are televised. only if there is a pacers game that is scheduled the same day will it not be televised. hopefully bally will be on the same schedule as fox sports indiana which has been good to me

      • jim walker

        If you have streaming capability there is a chance that the games pushed out by the Pacers will be available for you to stream. I’ve even streamed Reds games via the FoxSports Go app (now Bally I guess) when in southern California visiting family.

        When you log onto the app you get authenticated by/ with your local cable provider which determines what access you get. However, you may have to use the search function in the app to access events if they are not listed on the app dashboard.

      • Chris Miller

        Jim, I’ve tried that, and I still have no luck, but that’s here in Nashville, using the Xfinity app, and the Fox app (haven’t tried it as Bally’s yet though).

    • B-town fan

      I live in Indiana also and am with Dish and no Reds anymore and am not going back to cable no way, I left for a reason. Only got about half the Reds games on cable anyway and picked Dish when I left cable because it was a better value and they had all the Reds games through Fox Sports Ohio. but now that’s gone too and not a lot of other options. I use to be pretty fired up about it, but I’m ok with it now I can follow them here and on the Reds site or not at all and have a lot more free time. I had more access to watching Reds games back when Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan were doing Reds broadcast announcing in the late 80’s on the local channel 4 out of Indy.

      The key small paragraph though from Doug’s piece is, “In the long run it is also costing Major League Baseball plenty of money if there aren’t as many fans in the next generation because they simply didn’t have access to the games as easily as the generation before them did.” MLB is very short sighted.

      • Doug Gray

        Here’s the part of that, though, that doesn’t matter as much: Nearly every owner will either be dead or out of baseball a whole heck of a lot richer than when they entered it because they’ve already sold the team and left someone else holding the bag – so the people in charge now don’t really care. Or so that’s certainly how it feels based on every single action that they seem to take.

  21. Indy Red Man

    The Directv guy just left. I think I’m back in business? I better be! He said he did an installation the other day and the guy was watching the Reds. Dish shortchanging me on the Pacers is one thing, but I just have to watch Professor Bell and The Double Switch. Sounds kind of like a Harry Potter movie))

    • Carol in mourning

      I live about 120 miles from Angels and 175 from Dodgers. Just switched from Direct TV to streaming. MLB blacks out even their away games. Infuriating, and even more so after reading all the comments above. MLB is calling its own death knoll.

  22. SteveLV

    Didn’t know Vegas had anything in common with Iowa, but now I do – we also are blocked for 6 teams – Arizona, San Diego, Anaheim, LA, SF, and Oakland. SD and LA I get – those games are on cable here. The rest, particularly SF and Oakland which are 500 miles away? So, as far as I can tell, I can’t watch the Reds on their west coast swing and I think I subscribe to every possible option.

  23. Scott C

    When I lived in Virginia, I was suddenly blacked out of Reds games after having the app for about 10 years. I called and complained and they said it was because my cable provider was located in Charleston W.Va. I was living east of Charlottesville, VA. and hour and a half from DC. I was told it was a cable issue. After about three or four calls between Comcast and I finally got a customer service rep that fixed the issue. I think everyone should be able to watch the games of their choice but do not think that anyone should use work arounds that are illegal and even if it is “borderline” it is unethical. I just hope that MLB wakes up and quits shooting itself in the foot until nobody cares about baseball at all.

  24. Daytonnati

    Doug – this column was invaluable, thank you. Reading the comments helps as a value-clarifying exercise. I live in Cincinnati and am a lifelong Reds fan. I considered the cost of being able to watch every game, reliably, on a big screen, with the hometown crew on Fox/Bally versus enduring the various hoops and obstacles that others have discussed here. I have come to terms that it is worth the Spectrum subscription to me. I bundle with my Internet and sic my wife on customer service biannually to hector them into a discount of some kind or other. (She is a great bad cop.) If I am unable to watch the Reds live, I can record for later. I enjoy the pre-game and post-game shows. It is no different than water, or gas and electric. Am I being hosed? Yes, but, so far, the pleasure outweighs the pain.

    I have to ask: what happened between you and Skyline?? 🙂

    • Doug Gray

      I believe that they have since deleted the tweet, but last March they made an asinine statement that they would be closing in-person dining in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana due to the coronavirus and it was for safety reasons. But that their locations in Florida would remain open for in-person dining. That tells me that, no, you didn’t close them down for safety reasons at all, but because those states were already telling you that they were closing down in-person dining within the week (and they did). They caught some flack from people like me who called them out on the ridiculousness of the statement.

      Am I crazy for not eating there every again despite the fact that I really enjoy Skyline? Maybe. But Gold Star’s pretty good in it’s own right, not to mention several other local Cincinnati-chili places. I’ll be fine eating at those, and I’ll feel better in my soul.

      • Chris Miller

        Hmm, sounds like they were doing much like you do with this site, and that is, trying to stay away from politics (and I’m not picking a fight, just observing what seems quite obvious). They chose not to bash the states that were infringing on their rights to do business in a normal fashion, and instead, took the easy way out with their statement.

      • Doug Gray

        Then maybe they should have simply shut their mouths until the mandates they knew were coming down actually came down instead of lying to me face about why they were doing it.

        They chose to lie to me. I’ll enjoy my Gold Star just fine.

      • Doug Gray

        Like I said: I’m stubborn once I’ve made up my mind.

  25. RedsMonk65

    Amen. Very frustrating.

    I live in southwestern Indiana — about 170 miles away from Cincinnati and 200 miles from St. Louis. With traffic factored in, that’s about a 3-hour drive in either direction. (according to their own website) classifies me as being in both the Reds and Cardinals markets. So, I am blacked out (and the website stipulates that applies whether those teams are playing at home or away).

    My situation is rather unique, though I am surely not the only one. That is this: I live in a group setting, so do not have ultimate control over the cable/satellite package we have here. In short — I do not pay the bills, either for cable or streaming.

    We happen to have Dish — which, as you know, no longer carries Fox Sports/Bally. So, I can only watch the Reds on TV here if they happen to be playing in a nationally televised game (so, not often).

    As for streaming, I cannot justify the monthly bill for games that only I would watch on my personal device (especially if many, or most, are blacked out). If the other 70 residents here did something like that as well, there would be trouble.

    So, I am reduced to paying the $20 a month (which I can justify to those paying the bills) for the audio service so I can at least listen to the games. And catch the occasional nationally televised Reds game on TV. That’s it.

    It’s a long way from the days growing up in northwest Ohio (especially after cable really took root) when I could simply switch on the TV and be assured of finding not only the Reds on TV, but also the Tigers, Indians, Cubs (WGN), and yes, even the Braves (TBS).

    MLB has made it unnecessarily difficult and complicated for fans to watch games involving their favorite teams. In the long run, that is not good for MLB’s future. I think we can all agree on that.

    • RedsMonk65

      Just for further clarification, here is what the website tells me when I provide my zip code (47577) Please note especially the very last sentence:

      “The following Club(s) is subject to MLB.TV blackouts in your area for all live regular season games:

      Cincinnati Reds St. Louis Cardinals

      All live games streamed within any MLB.TV product and available through the MLB App and any other location or device where MLB.TV is sold or available are subject to local and national blackouts. If a game is blacked out in an area, it is not available for live game viewing through MLB.TV. If you are an MLB.TV subscriber within an area subject to blackout, the applicable game will be available as an archived game approximately 90 minutes after the conclusion of the game.

      In addition, note:

      Home television territory blackout restrictions apply regardless of whether a Club is home or away and regardless of whether or not a game is televised in a Club’s home television territory.”

      • Doug Gray

        Hmmm. I wonder when this began happening because it was not always the case.

    • Doug Gray

      I’m not even sure it’s been a conscious decision made by MLB. They sold their broadcast rights to these companies, who for decades had no carriage issues at all and you could find them on every available service (granted there were far fewer such services). But that’s all changed in the last five years or so, and many teams already had tv contracts in place with these companies who are now trying to “hold out for better deals” with the carriers. It’s a mess, and while I do think that a very small part of that specific part of it is on MLB since many teams are smaller, partial owners of the networks “holding out”, they still don’t have too much say in the ultimate decisions made by the board members of Bally Sports/whatever network.

      But, MLB could try to work with those same networks that they are partial owners of to loosen the MLBtv restrictions a little bit, and or create a higher-priced tier for more in-market streaming.

  26. Paul

    Great column, Doug. Despite living 200 miles from Cincinnati I’m “in market.” But despite being “in market” my cable company doesn’t carry Bally Sports (well, not officially, anyway. They put the games on an SD public access channel). So I have no legal way to watch the Reds in HD.

  27. DJ Jones

    The MLB audio package is a good deal since you can listen to any team you want. If you’re just looking for the Reds broadcast though, it’s available anywhere in the world by listening to 700WLW on the Iheartradio app this season. I can pick up WLW pretty easily in Dayton, but I haven’t had an AM radio in the house for years. Using my iphone and either earbuds or a portable speaker I can listen anywhere. I pick up the replays of any big plays through the Reds or MLB social media feeds, so it works well enough for me that I don’t miss paying to watch the games on cable.

    • Doug Gray

      The iheartradio stream has a distance requirement, too. It’s not available anywhere.

      • DJ Jones

        I wasn’t aware it was a limited distance. Maybe not as helpful as I’d thought!

      • Doug Gray

        Yeah – they haven’t been clear on what that distance is, but it exists. Typically speaking, if you can pick up 700 WLW at any time of the day (rather than at 2am when you can pick it up in Oklahoma), then you probably can get the iheartradio thing to work. But if you struggle at times to get the signal, you probably are too far away to qualify (but maybe not).

      • Andy

        I tried from Louisville this weekend and it was blocked. Apparently the radius around Cincy is pretty small.

    • RedsMonk65

      This is what I do as well. It is better than nothing. So, I can at least listen to any Reds game (or any other teams, for that matter) with the audio subscription. Regular radio doesn’t cut it for me — where I am, I can only pick up Cardinals or Cubs games … Anathema!

      So, I listen to the games, and then watch video clip highlights when they become available.

      But the overall point still stands: It should not be this difficult/complicated for a fan of any team to watch his or her team play on TV.

      • RedsMonk65

        I speak of the audio subscription — not iheart

  28. TXRedLeg

    I think you’ve brought up a great issue, and one that’s been frustrating me for years. I would expand your issue to access to baseball in general, be that of watching, listening, or even reading (well written) articles on the Reds.

    I used to live in Winston Salem, NC. At one point I could stream WLW and listen to the Reds. Then that was taken away when MLB audio was created, and I was somehow in a blackout area, as with MLB.TV – as my wife would make fun of me every year I would write my angry letter to powers that be at the Reds executive suite of how exactly they thought I was going to drop everything and drive 450 miles to watch a game.

    It is understandable that there is a desire for those that own the product to monetize all facets of the product, however, I think they have overlooked some of the benefits of making the product easily and cheaply available in terms of fan growth and retention.

    For better or worse I now live in TX, and have broken down and purchased the MLB Audio to listen to games, and I’m fairly happy, but I remain skeptical of the path MLB has gone so far.

    Oh, and by the way, the Redlegnation has filled the void of meaningful insight into Reds baseball that went away at the death of newspapers, so thank you.

    • TXRedLeg

      Just read my first paragraph again – no intention of disrespect to Redlegnation! Forgive.

  29. Greenfield Red

    I’m 55 and have been a Reds fan for nearly 50 years. Prior to me, nobody in our family cared about baseball. Had I not been exposed to baseball and the Reds because WLW was played in the hospital waiting room when I was 6 or 7 and my parents were visiting a sick relative in Cincinnati, I may not have been exposed to the Reds or baseball in general for several more years.

    By fighting over money, MLB and the streaming/cable companies are making MLB harder to happen across as I did. Baseball needs new fans. It is not making it easy for new fans to find it. In my opinion, the long term future of the game depends on exposure. I’m starting the think that in 100 years baseball will not be a viable Sports/entertainment thing.

    Count me among the group that has recently cut the cord. We’re not paying $100 per month for programming we mostly don’t want. I listen on WLW and check the game’s progress by checking on Redleg Nation. My 14 year old son who used to watch games with me and my wife who was a casual Reds fan are no longer associated with baseball.

  30. IA Redleg

    As an Iowan Reds fan, the blackouts don’t hurt me too much but the fact that SIX teams are blacked out here is just ridiculous. I mean even the Brewers are blacked out here and no one even likes them. If I just wanted to watch some non-Reds baseball on a Sunday afternoon, potentially 40% of the league (12/30 teams) could be unavailable to me. Doesn’t make sense

  31. Rednat

    i do feel that mlb is disenfranchising not only the youth of the country but also the socioeconomic lower class of this country with the moves they are making. i would assume this is an intentional move to create a more “elite” fan base although I am hoping it is just ignorance on their part.

    for example do they realize that many Americans can’t afford smart phones(or in my case, refuse to buy one) and therefore cannot attend a game or do they just not want people who don’t have smart phones to attend games? i feel they have some type of agenda with these moves including making it very expensive to watch on tv but i haven’t figured out what it is yet.

    • Doug Gray

      I feel pretty confident in saying that they want to cater the in-person viewing of games to people with plenty of money.

  32. BZ

    Don’t even get me started on MLB and their blackout rules. I live in Hawaii. My local teams are the Mariners, A’s, Giants, Dodgers, Angels, and Padres because I can just jump into my car and drive to a game. It makes no sense and makes me angry every time I think about it.

    • Doug Gray

      The days of the blackouts being about trying to get you to buy a ticket are long gone. They are about trying to force you to force your cable company to carry the regional sports network on their cable package so you and everyone else who has cable pays $6-8 per month to access the channel whether you watch it or not.

      • Doug Gray

        But it’s also kind of crazy that they expect someone in multiple “home markets” to be able to access all of one teams games. That’s almost never going to be a thing that happens. In cases like yours, they need to fix the situation so that if a game isn’t available to you through your cable/satellite company, it should be not blacked out on MLBtv for you to pay for and access.

  33. B-town fan

    BZ, Holy crap that’s ridiculous, somebody at MLB should be fired over that one!

  34. RandyW

    I get for free from T-Mobile. I’ve adjusted to watching the archived game which is available appx 90 minutes after the game ends so day games I watch at night and night games I watch the following morning but I’m retired so it’s not too inconvenient for me.

  35. Andy

    My view of best possible scenario for MLB: work with NBC and/or ABC (read: no NFL games on Sunday afternoons) to get all Sunday games on free, over the air, network TV. Same plan as NFL; game on air is based on geographic region. Use that time to advertise the hell out of, and ticket sales. Offer this service to everyone at same price, no blackouts, no up charge to view regional team. We don’t want Bally’s app, we want MLB app.

    To accomplish this MLB has to work on buying back the regional cable rights it has sold, and stop new deals.

    MLB should produce the broadcasts themselves, and are free to sell to cable channels, just without exclusivity rights. (Have cable? Watch on cable. Streamer? Buy MLB package.)

    Free Sunday games will allow them to market product to broad audience, give younger cable-cutters a chance to sample product and subscribe if they get sucked in (or at least drive ratings on Sundays if they don’t.)

    The news this week: Marlins announce new exclusive regional cable deal. Facepalm.

    FWIW, I am not watching on TV this year. I may stream radio, and perhaps go to a couple more games (went to one already). I choose not buy cable or the $85/mo AT&T package.

  36. John Jansen

    Personnaly if you want to watch baseball download its 110$ a year, with blackouts, but for me all indians, cubs, and tigers games are all blackout. Yes another solution MLB needs to figure out by allowing streaming apps and what not else to resign them. Personnaly I think a fair contract is 50 cents per game, so pretty much 15$ per month is fair, so 5-6 months of 162 games, 81$ per year. MLB has it at 110$ ill cry about my 20 or so games I miss, whatever still less then a 1$ per game. Really there needs to be a better solution, but rather then crying look at your options, really the only thing us fans can do, is possible protest. Really what would MLB do, they don’t care about contract manipulations, or juiced balls, or foreign substance crap. What you think they will care about the fans, if they don’t care about the players…

  37. Oxfordsport

    What Reds ownership is doing is typical of the management model used by most large corporations. The primary consideration is “Making the numbers” in their corporate projections. Profit and cash – NOW- are the rules. Other considerations like future viewership are the cans that get kicked down the road.

  38. DW

    MLB has been killing its fan base for years, they are just doubling down now with the lack of games available for viewing.
    I live 315 miles away from Cincinnati, in Cardinals territory, but MLB has always blacked out Reds games here, because I have a KY address.
    If MLB can make a bad decision, they will, and the fan base dwindles.

  39. Jiminoz

    I am a former S/W Ohio resident. Now in Australia and no blackouts ever on Moving Down Under though, might be too high a price for some of you to pay, to watch Reds baseball.

  40. doofus

    Because the games are still broadcast in black and white?

  41. ClayMC

    It always boggled my mind that when I would visit my in-laws in rural Tennessee, a full 250+ miles from Great American Ballpark, that I still couldn’t get them on No cable services carried them, and I was a 4.5 hour drive away, but still… nothing.

  42. John Douglas

    Like the article says for me in Iowa. I am a cardinals fan and live 6 hours from St. Louis but we are blacked out. So are Cubs, Royals, Twins, and White Sox. If I had mlb tv the only games I would get would be the yanks, red sox, phillies and mets which is always on espn anyway.

  43. James

    Not comfortable with how I’m watching Reds games now but unable to watch via MLB streaming here in North Carolina. It’s so frustrating. Would gladly pay for the MLB package.