You've heard it plenty of times before: Major League Baseball has a marketing problem.
Superstar players are only superstars within the baseball world. A guy like Mike Trout, who will go down as possibly the greatest player of all-time, is relatively unknown compared to athletes like LeBron James and Tom Brady.
Part of the reasoning behind that problem is the restrictive blackout rules that MLB has for its online streaming platform. In case you're not familiar with just how bad MLB's blackouts can be, here's a helpful map.
Here you can see which areas are blacked out from which teams. Some don't have it so bad, but others are just left in the dust with no access to any team.
Now, just to clarify, as Baseball America's JJ Cooper did on Twitter this morning, MLB blackouts are not based on selling out the games or trying to get fans in attendance. It's all about not competing with the regional sports networks that broadcast the games and making sure they get their money.
That doesn't make the rules any better, though. Especially in today's age and with the way people consume content these days.
According to No Cable, the number of households that are subscribed to cable or satellite TV is expected to drop to 82.9 million this year. In 2018, 90.3 million households had a cable subscription.
That means that cord cutting is on the rise. The number of cord cutting households is expected to rise to 25.3 million this year, up from 18.3 million in 2018.
If this many people are ditching their cable and satellite subscriptions, wouldn't it make sense for MLB to get with the times and make sure they're included in the fan base?
Take Iowa for example. If you're a resident of the Hawkeye State and you decide to cut the cord and switch to streaming, you can't watch any of the teams within a few hundred miles of you. You'll be blacked out of Cubs, White Sox, Brewers, Twins, Cardinals and Royals games. If you're a fan of any of those teams and you decide to cut the cord, too bad for you.
Or look at the entire South. All of South Carolina and Georgia and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida are blacked out of Atlanta Braves games. If people continue to get rid of their cable/satellite subscriptions in favor of streaming options, they will be cut off from watching the Braves in seven states.
These archaic restrictions just don't make any sense. Times have changed, and people are done with cable TV. It makes more sense to pay for streaming services that you actually want, instead of a package of 400 channels, 4 of which you actually watch.
If MLB truly wants to grow the game and get more fans involved, they need to loosen the blackout restrictions, get with the times and let fans watch online wherever they may be.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.