Quarantine Post #63: Out of Market Fan

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Did I think that I would still be at home in October of 2021? No. But I have been able to pass the time getting things off my watch and read list. However for my readers… you guys all know this. The other thing that has gotten me through is my new obsession with hockey and baseball. Hockey has been a new thing that I share with my friend Leah. Nothing like enjoying something and not knowing the closest person to you enjoyed the same thing… but you two never mention it to each other. (See my post about the black girl hockey club.) Before coming back to baseball, and getting into hockey, I hadn’t watched sports in years. Being stuck at home changes your outlook on things pretty quickly. Have to entertain yourself gets rough.

The only issue that I am facing… that is a big issue is the need to have cable to watch baseball or hockey. When I decided to cut the cord, it was probably the best decision that I made. There was a lot of money being paid for tv that we weren’t watching. For me, there was never anything to watch… and every year the bill got higher and higher. I have gotten rid of cable and could not have been happier. I can turn on what I want and watch what I want. (Shoutout to Verizon for paying for the Disney Bundle, Discovery Plus and Apple Music.) Not having to pay makes decisions easier. While I have attacked my watchlist… staying up on the New York Rangers and the New York Yankees was way harder than I thought.

Now when thinking about going back to sports, I assumed it would be as easy as finding a streaming service and paying a fee. But the world is always needlessly complicated. No such thing. Even with a streaming service… blackout days are annoying… but more than that. I was penalized for being an out of market fan. For those that do not know… that means because of my location… I can only watch teams local to me. So… watching the games for teams in my home state of New York was out of the question. It is odd to have a streaming service about sports and then tell people they can only watch said sports if they pay for cable. Why would I need this streaming service if I could watch sports on cable? Punishing fans for not having cable… not cool man. Leah is very opinionated on the matter… I told her I was going to get center ice. And she immediately told me that there were better ways to spend my money. I was determined to prove her wrong… but for $160… why would need to still have to deal with blackout dates? Leah was right. I even tried Fubotv… (which was great by the way… It was just a lot more money than I wanted to pay for using just a portion of the service. If you guys are looking for a service that is not cable… to watch tv… I support Fubotv.) Even with Fubotv… I wasn’t given access to MSG networks because I don’t live in New York or the surrounding areas.

You have to love social media where everyone thinks they know what they are talking about. And how they believe their solution is what is best for you. In a hockey Facebook group, when people were complaining about not being able to watch games… there was a guy that was explaining to everyone that if they just got fubotv… you could watch the Rangers play because you get MSG networks. He got annoyed when I told him that wasn’t the case. It works for him and he doesn’t live in New York. (He lives in Connecticut.) He didn’t offer any more advice when I showed the screenshot of the sports channels I would get here in the south… not one of them included MSG network. Living in a surrounding city versus… living another part of the country is not the same. But thanks for playing. Maybe if he read the Wikipedia excerpt about MSG networks… he wouldn’t have talked so much… but one can only hope. “The MSG Network (MSG) is an American regional cable and satellite television network, and radio service owned by MSG Entertainment, Inc.—a spin-off of the main Madison Square Garden Company. Primarily serving the Mid-Atlantic United States, its programming focuses on events featuring and other programs about New York City sports teams, including live game broadcasts of the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association, the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League, and the New York Red Bulls of the Major League Soccer. The channel is named after the Madison Square Garden sports and entertainment venue in Midtown Manhattan, home of the Knicks and Rangers.” There was a time during the past two years where I was looking to see if I could just pay out of pocket for this network… no such luck… They have no clue how much money they could make if they just allowed people to pay for what they wanted.

October 1, 2014: New MSG Network television studio.

I do have ESPN plus… and as far as baseball goes… it is super lacking. No such thing as watching something live. Last night I missed the Yankees/Red Sox game of the postseason. If I wanted to watch something live… I would have to log into my provider… or sign in with MLB.tv. I missed the whole game and there is no point in going back to watch it now. (I could watch things on demand if I vowed to stay off social media… but that does take away a fun aspect of the game.) I could sign up for MLB tv… but again… the blackout dates are based on my location and I would be paying and still not able to watch all the games that I want to. It may be easier to see the Yankees play by moving back to New York.

On the hockey front, things seem to be moving in an interesting direction. Disney and the NHL agreed to a 7 year contract that will see ESPN and ESPN Plus become key places to watch and stream hockey games, starting with the upcoming 2021-2022 season. I will be able to gauge how thought out this is once the season gets underway. ESPN Plus is effectively replacing NHL.TV as the NHL’s out-of-market streaming service, with over 1,000 games each season available for fans to stream. ESPN and ABC will also get 25 exclusive national regular-season games each season, while 75 games a year will be exclusive to ESPN Plus and Hulu. Sounds promising… ABC and ESPN together will get to broadcast half of the NHL playoffs each season, too. (Specifically, Disney’s networks will get one of the Conference Final series and half of all the first round and second round games each year. I can’t complain… it is better than nothing. (You think the MLB would agree to a contract like this…? I won’t hold my breath.)

Leah and I were having a discussion as we always do. She is usually my sounding board to vent my frustrations about life. If you don’t have a friend like her, I recommend it. On this particular day, I was ranting about how fans in other regions are getting screwed out of being able to watch their favorite teams. It would be so much easier to just let people pay monthly for whatever game they want to see…. in any league. If I remember correctly, I was also on a rant about paying for MSG networks streaming service. I can’t imagine why TPTB would be leaving money on the table by not allowing out of market fans better options when trying to view the game. Leah in her way pointed out somethings are all about advertising… Companies pay big money in advertising. But I still wonder… (I have a lot of streaming services where I have not paid to be commercial free.) what does streaming a game have to do with not making money on advertising?

Anyways… that was one of my latest rants. Hopefully things will get better for us out of market fans. Maybe big business will stop trying to punish us for cutting the cord. If you want to vent your frustrations, let me know your thoughts in the comments. This EPSN deal does mean that some people are listening. Here’s to hoping it opens other doors and here’s to hoping we leave cable behind.

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