It’s no secret that I’m a fairly rabid Red Sox – and baseball – fan. The ability to get DirecTV in my new place played a small but not insignificant role in my decision to purchase this place, as it’s the only available television service that gives me access to the New England Sports Network (AKA NESN), the station that carries the bulk of Sox games. I pay an extra $12 or so per month to get a sports pack with maybe 20 channels, but NESN’s the only one I watch. I also pay something like $200 for the baseball season to subscribe to a service called MLB Extra Innings, which on any given day gives me the ability to watch just about any game I want.
Net net, I pay a fair bit of money to be able to watch the Sox first, other baseball games second. So imagine my surprise when I tuned to NESN last Friday to watch the Sox play Seattle and received a message telling me the “Program was not available in my area.” I hopped over to get the game on MLB EI, and was indeed able to watch it, but had to listen to the Seattle announcers who are – IMO – terrible. The Oakland folks aren’t much better.
This probably wouldn’t be that major an issue for a lot of people, but I’ve grown quite attached to the Sox broadcast team of Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo. They’re light years better than the Seattle folks, and I even prefer them to the supposed A-Team of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball (who, as I told Tim Bray in an email, are vastly overrated IMO).
There are two basic things wrong with this situation, as I see it. First, and most obviously, I can’t get the games that I pay a lot of money for. Second, no one has yet given me a rational explanation as to why I can’t get the games in question. DirecTV’s explanation (nothing on the website) was a mishmash of “MLB makes us” and “regional market restrictions,” but the fact is that networks like TBS and WGN broadcast the Braves and Cubs respectively all over the country without blackout restrictions, unless they’re playing the local team.
I pay good money to see my team; why won’t DirecTV let me do that without gaming the system with false billing addresses? That is, after all, what they advertise. For the MLB bloggers out there, if you have any further information on how the blackouts work, it’d be surely apppreciated by me and a sizable group of other Sox fans. It’d be one thing if there were technical restrictions involved, but to know that the feed is there and is simply being blacked out for reasons that no one can explain, well, that’s just infuriating. You’re dropping the ball here, DirecTV.