Sunday, May 02, 2010

Play Ball! And read the fine print

The Major League Baseball season is entering its second month, so I am remiss in not posting this cautionary note earlier.

See the ad above? Major League Baseball posts this -- and others like it -- on team pages. "Watch Every Regular Season Cubs Game Online." Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Especially for folks who travel or might choose to not have cable or satellite TV.

Look at the ad again. Toward the bottom, take note: "Blackout and other restrictions apply." Those are critical words, especially when you learn -- as I did, the hard way -- just how expansive the MLB blackout zones are.

Here in Iowa, all six Midwest teams are blacked out: both Chicago teams, St. Louis, Kansas City, Milwaukee and Minnesota.

Last winter, I signed up for the service. Yes, I didn't read the fine print, figuring the blackouts were probably just when the Cubs were involved in a national game. Mistake. I even saw a couple of Cubs spring training games online. But once the regular season started, so did the blackouts.

It took a lot of effort -- and not giving up when MLB said, "Sorry, no refunds" -- before I finally got my money back.

This online service could be great if you live far -- very, very far -- from the home city of your favorite team. However, even if you are a state or two away, you could be blacked out and ripped off.

Baseball fans, beware!


Tom said...

Black outs for the Cub games would be a plus, right?

Brian Cooper said...

Funny. But, actually, that could be a plus for me some days. I watch the Cubs when I should be doing other things.