Free local baseball on TV disappears

For a few decades now, the long-tradition of over-the-air broadcasts of major league baseball games has been disappearing. Today, an announcement from Fox Sports North (FSN) suggests, the era is just about over.

The network and the team announced that all Minnesota Twins games — except for a few that are on the national Fox broadcasts — will be on cable. There will be no local over-the-air partner for the team.

It’s a trend that’s not exclusive to baseball, of course. Last month, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that starting next year, there’ll be no more “free access” to its games on TV.

  • Noelle

    I wonder if this affects the radio broadcasts at all?

  • MR

    You can’t even get around it by subscribing to mlb.tv, because they black out local games. Ick.

  • Angela

    And how much public tax money went to build that new baseball stadium? Eff them.

    And I’m so sure that if the Viqueens get their publicly financed stadium, they’ll pull the same thing.

    Screw ‘em all.

  • http://portofdangerbay.com/ Jack Boardman

    That’s just wrong…

  • Scott

    This is part of Fox Sports larger strategy to buy the local broadcasts whenever possible (referenced by the Lakers agreement). The format struggles to garner substantial ratings when there is not a live event on the air. Agreements such as this also reduce potential exposure for teams by not requiring them to sell all available ad space within the games in order to monetize the broadcasts.

    Angela – the NFL will always have national agreements. The only TV arrangements NFL teams make are for preseason. You may see FSN look to buy this programming as well.

  • http://norwegianity.wordpress.com Mark Gisleson

    Just go to ATDHENET.TV and you can get a free albeit low quality stream.

    MLB could stream every game and does, but not to local fans. Local fans get blacked out by all the sports leagues because too many owners own stock in cable companies. NBA fans have put up with this for too long, and now it’s baseball’s turn.

    Greed leads, and being a fan means you have to prove it by shelling out for cable packages that are cheap only in comparison with season tickets (which are inflated thanks to the owners’ inability to run their “businesses” sensibly).

    I’ve given up on Congress ever fixing this mess, most of Congress being owned by the same people who own sports franchises. Obama could fix this overnight simply by setting up a national sports program that would let towns and cities compete with other towns and cities of the same size. Sports have been ruined by the NCAA and pro owners, none of whom feel the slightest loyalty to fans or regions.

  • Bob Collins

    Noelle: No, it doesn’t impact the radio broadcasts.

  • JackU

    It’s been along time (at least 23 years from the announcement) since games were only on broadcast TV. The reason of course is that the cable channels are willing to pay more for the rights to broadcast. I suspect that part of that is due to weather delays and cancellations. Since it’s not the Twins but the local station that needs to sell the ad time, they would potentially have a lot of messy situations if a Twins game was delayed or canceled.

    So Angela, it might not be that the Twins don’t want local broadcast it might be that Channel 9/29 opted out of broadcasting Sunday afternoon games because it could make more money with a “regular” schedule on those days.

  • Eric

    If you live just across the border in Wisconsin, FSN will only give you Brewers games. Sundays with Dick ‘n Bert were the only games western Wisconsin Twins fans like myself could watch. I guess I no longer live in “Twins Teritory.”

  • warnoutboomer

    Why would any advertiser or the Twins organization want to provide me with free broadcasts? I’m old and my purchasing power is almost half what it was two decades ago … this is American Capitalism!

    When I was young I attended about half the Twins home games and watched nearly all the televised away games. Now they’re taking away my infrequent Sunday broadcasts and all I get to do is help pay for a new stadium I can’t afford to attend. Heck, I can hardly hear the radio broadcast after sunset!

    But I’m finding other things to do, being a baseball fan is quickly slipping down the list.

  • Bob Collins

    Cable channels are willing to pay more because it’s the only programming they’ve got that can attract a significant audience. Over the air TV doesn’t have that luxury which is why the games have migrated over the years in markets to second-tier broadcast outlets.

    In other words, the Golden Girls reruns vs. baseball is a “push.”

    Also many teams have taken their broadcast operations “in house ” (as the Twins did with their radio broadcasts and I think the Timberwolves did too). And in some markets, the teams actually own the broadcast outlets.

  • http://norwegianity.wordpress.com Mark Gisleson

    I still don’t understand why the Vikings, Wolves, Wild and Twins don’t build a statewide digital broadcast network. They could have two digital channels that would cover the entire state and their fan base would grow exponentially.

    It’s easy to frame this as all $ and ¢, but how many kids are growing up without access to games? In twenty years will the only twenty- and thirty-something sports fans be the ones whose parents could afford a dish?

  • Michael Olson

    This bums me out. My grandpa is an avid Twins fan and would never pay for cable. Going to his house in the summer without the din of a baseball game in the background will make it seem like there’s been a death in the family.

  • bsimon

    If you’d have asked me, I would have guessed that baseball disappeared from broadcast tv years ago. I can’t remember the last time I stumbled across a game.

  • Roy

    It was a sad day for Minnesota baseball when I consider the Twins turned their back on their local fans. Sure publicity experts sure paint a pretty picture for the fans

    Some people struggle to pay their bills and to be a Twins fan means you have one more bill to pay. Or don’t watch!

    You watch it on a station that is not even Minnesota nice!

  • bob

    Well no more baseball for me. I refuse to pay high cable bills