In broadcasting, blackout occurs when certain programming, mostly sports cannot be televised in a certain media market. Literally, the purpose behind blackouts is to make more money by obliging certain actions from fans either by making them buy tickets or watch other games on TV.
As a result of contractual agreements between professional sports leagues and broadcasters, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) may sometimes require to blackout some games of sports teams. The sports blackout rule is only applied if a local TV broadcast is not carrying the local sporting event. Therefore, if a local TV broadcast station does not have permission to carry the local game then no other broadcaster’s signal displaying the game can be shown in the protected local blackout zone. All sports packages through every satellite TV providers are subject to blackouts without exceptions. Blackout restrictions are designed to protect the television rights holders in the competing teams’ respective home markets. DirecTV satellite service does not arbitrarily institute blackouts but follows the restrictions set forth by different sports leagues or their right holders such as ESPN, TNT and so on. DirecTV follows blackout rules to honor their agreements with the leagues and other owners of the broadcast rights.
Subscribers may fail to watch different games due to blackouts. Below is given a short explanation of different games that get affected by blackouts in DirecTV:
MLB Extra Innings Blackout :
Some weekend games of MLB Extra Innings have been blacked out of the package. MLB Extra Inning package generally deliver out-of-market baseball games on channels 722-749 of DirecTV. For teams in subscribers’ home market, the games will be shown on their respective Regional Sports Network or a local channel. ESPN has undergone an agreement with Major League Baseball due to which ESPN has been given exclusive rights to broadcast MLB games that begin after 5pm ET on Sundays. Due to the agreement these games will not be available on MLB Extra Innings channels. Similarly, MLB has undergone agreement with Fox Television Network. As per the agreement on Saturdays in the regular season Fox Television Network will have the exclusive rights to broadcast MLB games until 7pm ET. As a result subscribers cannot access these games on the MLB Extra Innings package channels. But they can watch these games in Fox Television Network. For this, subscribers need to check with the Fox Network local schedule.
MLB has also undergone agreements with the YES Network. YES does not have the rights to deliver certain MLB-licensed programming to subscribers who live outside the YES network’s home market. This programming includes New York Yankees Encore games, Yankeeography, Yankees Classics, Yankees Magazine and This Week in Baseball, among others.
ESPN Full Court Blackout:
For ESPN Full Court, blackout restrictions primarily apply to select games from Atlantic Coast Conference in southeastern regions of the United States including Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. People living in any of these areas access the blackout games on their local regional sports network or over-the air network.
There are certain game availability rules set up by NFL, CBS and Fox. In general subscribers can watch all games of NFL on channels 704-718 unless the local Fox and CBS station shows the games in which case subscribers need to tune to local channel to watch them. Also in DirecTV, as per regulations imposed by NFL, a regular season Sunday afternoon game will not be televised anywhere in a home team’s territory if the game does not sell out at least 72 hours prior to kickoff. The blackout games can be watched by tuning into local Fox and CBS station. DirecTV requires to enforce these blackout rules since they first started providing NFL Sunday Ticket.
ESPN Gameplan Blackout:
ESPN Gameplan is subject to blackouts for the games that are televised in local designated areas. For instance the local ABC sports broadcasts several games to different regions of the country. Subscribers can watch one game every week on their local ABC station. But the game shown on local ABC affiliate will be blackout from subscribers’ ESPN Gameplan Subscription.
Sports Pack Blackout:
Blackout rules do affect some of the games included in the Sports Pack of DirecTV. As per the rules subscribers will not receive professional games outside their market on Sports Pack channels. Out-of-market games are sold separately via professional sports subscription package.
NCAA Mega March Madness Blackout:
Subscribers cannot watch the games delivered by their CBS affiliate with NCAA Mega March Madness package of DirecTV. Subscribers must check their local listings to check availability of those game in their local CBS broadcasts.
NHL Center Ice:
Blackout restrictions apply to all games on NHL Center Ice. These blackouts are determined by the leagues. Mainly they are designed to protect the television rights holders in the competing teams’ respective home markets.
MLS Direct Kick Blackout:
No games of MLS Direct Kick are subject to blackout rules.
NBA League Pass Blackout:
All games of NBA League Pass are subjected to NBA blackout rules. Which game would be blacked out will be determined by NBA.
Sports blackouts and game availability are controlled by the leagues, sports associations, and networks that purchase the rights to broadcast individual games. To protect their rights, DirecTV must enforce the blackouts and availability mandated by them.
Blackout rules are different for different local media market. For detailed inquiry subscribers can visit directv.com/blackouts.