Major League Baseball's Blackout Policy Under Fire

Major League Baseball defends itself against accusations that its lucrative broadcast policies violate federal antitrust laws.

What's the Latest?


Major League Baseball defended its controversial television broadcasting policies earlier this week and requested a judge throw out a lawsuit brought against it by an angry group of fans. The league, in filing a motion for summary judgment, argues that the plaintiff's claims are unsound, unsupportable, and a big waste of time for everyone involved. The claims are such a waste of time, says Major League Baseball, that a trial would be inadvisable and unnecessary (if not to mention extremely troubling for a league currently swimming in Scrooge McDuckian amounts of TV cash). The wonderful Fangraphs.com, whose Wendy Thurm has written extensively on this subject, has made MLB's motion available here 

What's the Big Idea?

The plaintiffs in the case against MLB claim the league's blackout rules and policies (of which there are many, adequately listed here on Wikipedia) violate federal antitrust laws. Major League Baseball has for 92 years enjoyed an antitrust exemption that has been challenged again and again on matters ranging from the doling out of suspensions to territory disputes related to teams seeking to relocate. MLB and its All-Star team of lawyers tend to come out on these challenges fairly unscathed.

Territory rights and blackout policies are understandably frustrating to many people. The natural counter-argument in defense of MLB is that the league provides a unique, in-demand product and has the right to distribute said product in any way it sees fit. These broadcasting deals are a huge source of income for the league and contribute to its continuing growth.

Yet these clashes between broadcasters and viewers feel like the beginnings of a larger battle to be fought over the consumption of media in a rapidly changing nation growing accustomed to more choice and less hassle. How much longer will customers put up with having to buy 195 channels they don't want in order to watch the five they do? A lot depends on whether the blackout policies of Major League Baseball and the other major sports leagues are ever put on trial. With billions upon billions of dollars on the line, you can be sure the leagues and their broadcasters will step up to the plate intent on protecting their interests.

Read more at Fangraphs

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less

New alternative to Trump's wall would create jobs, renewable energy, and increase border security

A consortium of scientists and engineers have proposed that the U.S. and Mexico build a series of guarded solar, wind, natural gas and desalination facilities along the entirety of the border.

Credit: Purdue University photo/Jorge Castillo Quiñones
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The proposal was recently presented to several U.S. members of Congress.
  • The plan still calls for border security, considering all of the facilities along the border would be guarded and connected by physical barriers.
  • It's undoubtedly an expensive and complicated proposal, but the team argues that border regions are ideal spots for wind and solar energy, and that they could use the jobs and fresh water the energy park would create.
Keep reading Show less
Image source: Topical Press Agency / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Though we know today that his policies eventually ended the Great Depression, FDR's election was seen as disastrous by some.
  • A group of wealthy bankers decided to take things into their own hands; they plotted a coup against FDR, hoping to install a fascist dictator in its stead.
  • Ultimately, the coup was brought to light by General Smedley Butler and squashed before it could get off the ground.
Keep reading Show less