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MLB’s local area blackouts are officially a thing of the past in the San Diego television market.
This became a distinct possibility not long ago, as part of the Diamond Sports group bankruptcy.
Last week, news broke that the San Diego Padres could take control of their media rights. Essentially, Bally Sports would forfeit the rights if they didn’t make payments to the team within a grace period.
Well, late Tuesday evening, that grace period expired without Bally making their contractually obligated payments.
The Padres twitter account announced that starting Wednesday, all game broadcasts would be handled by MLB. They’d also be available on different television provider channels, with an entirely new subscription offering.
Despite the exceptionally good news, there’s a bit of a catch.
Fans with an existing MLB.tv subscription will have to pay for the additional subscription separately to watch Padres games locally.
Even so, this marks one of the first opportunities local fans have had to legally watch their home team’s games without a cable subscription.
Bally Sports Bankruptcy Presenting Challenges And Opportunities For MLB Teams
The missed payments by Diamond Sports have become an increasingly common feature across MLB.
But this official move certainly shows what the league wants to use as a blueprint going forward.
If you’re only interested in watching local games, you can now do so without paying exorbitant cable fees. That’s almost certainly the model the league wants to encourage down the road.
Being able to watch games anytime, anywhere, is key to growing the sport. Especially among younger fans who predominantly use phones to track sports.
Judging by social media reactions, fans are upset that it’s not included in the “all teams” MLB.tv subscription. But that’s always going to be necessary, since teams derive so much revenue from broadcast deals with local networks.
The Padres initially signed a 20-year, $1.2 billion deal with Bally Sports. That revenue has to be replaced somehow. And single team subscriptions through MLB is one way to accomplish it.
Ideally down the road, MLB would provide this option for all teams. Buy the all games streaming service if you want to, and add on your local team as an option.
The Padres are now officially serving as a guinea pig for what could be an exceedingly bright, blackout-free future.