Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Blackout of Game #2 of the Cubs vs. Giants Playoff Series (by Dave Madsen)

Dear MLB.TV and MLB Executives:

I’ve been following the Chicago Cubs since I was a kid and consider baseball an important part of my family heritage and culture.  Throughout most of my life, I was able to watch all Cub games for free on WGN, and I could regularly afford to ride the train to Wrigley Field and buy a ticket. 

Last Saturday, I didn’t want to pay $250 for a bleacher seat ticket on Stub Hub.  Instead, I was looking forward to watching Game 2 of the Cub-Giant series at home on TV.  

It was shocking to find out hours before the game that my local cable service, Wide Open West (WOW!) would not be broadcasting the game. It would be streaming live exclusively on MLB.TV.

I went ahead and paid the MLB.TV premium post-season subscription of $25, thinking it would be cheaper and healthier than going to the local bar.  Later, minutes before the game, I discovered WOW was not an approved network.  The game was blacked out. I immediately called WOW customer service and was told there was no way for me, a Chicago area Cub fan, to watch the game being played at Wrigley Field. 

Ironically, I pulled out an old transistor radio (from 1970) and began listening to the game.  My wife, a new fan, said she couldn’t imagine what was going on.  We ended up watching the game at a crowded sports bar with a hundred frustrated WOW customers. 

Today, I called WOW customer service to find out more information about the situation.  I was told that "a million Cub fans called them" to complain that day.  

Apparently, two weeks before the game, MLB made the decision to exclusively broadcast this game on their own MLB.TV network.  When WOW tried to negotiate with MLB for broadcast rights, they were told it would cost billions of dollars.  Wow said the cost would have been passed on to WOW customers, increasing the average monthly bill $30. So on top of paying for an expensive MLB.TV subscription, fans would be getting crushed on their monthly cable bills as well.  
Two questions for you: Is that the way to treat your loyal customers? Did you ever consider the fact that Major League Baseball is destroying their fan base? 

Please consider looking at the long-term health of the game and league.  Rather than pursuing short-term, maximum profits, MLB should broadcast on common networks where all fans can enjoy what may still be considered the national pastime.


Dave Madsen

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