Q. I want to watch as many baseball games this season as I can, particularly the Pittsburgh Pirates where I used to live. DIRECTV told me I could watch the Pirates on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh if I get the Sports Pack. Is that true? — Gene, Omaha, Nebraska. 

Gene, before I explain, a little background on DIRECTV’s Sports Pack, which costs $13.99 a month.

The add-on package includes 40 different sports channels (see list below) including CBS Sports Network, TVG, The Outdoor Channel, and the top regional sports channels such as AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, NESN, MASN, Fox Sports South, FSN San Diego, and so on.

DIRECTV’s web page for the Sports Pack suggests that you can watch each channel’s live professional games if you subscribe to the package.

“Only DIRECTV gives you access to over 40 regional and specialty sports networks, so you can scratch your sports itch, whatever the game, whatever the season. Don’t miss a minute of game time with the Sports Pack’s regional sports networks, bringing you coverage of your favorite pro and college teams from around the country,” the page states. 

If you can watch every minute of your favorite pro and college teams, that should mean you could watch the Pirates on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, the New York Yankees on the Yes Network, the Red Sox on NESN, the Washington Nationals on MASN, and so on, regardless of where you live.


Wrong. The teams that are normally blacked out on a regional sports channel are still blacked out if you subscribe to the Sports Pack. If you live in Omaha, for example, the Pirates will still be blacked out on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh. There is nothing special about this package that will allow you to skirt the normal blackout rules.

If you want to watch the Pirates in Omaha, or the Yankees in Boise, Idaho, etc., you will need to subscribe to an out-of-market package such as MLB.TV or MLB Extra Innings, both of which costs considerable more than $13.99 a month.

The DIRECTV web page is very misleading, and I can understand why some people might interpret it. And based on your question, and other e-mails I’ve received, it appears that some DIRECTV customer service reps are suggesting, or directly saying, the same thing as well.

But don’t waste $13.99 a month thinking it’s a way to get around the blackouts. It’s not, and DIRECTV needs to say that more clearly on its web page. If you scroll down to the bottom of that page, there is a Q&A section for the Sports Pack that if you click on the right question, it tells you:

“Due to contractual broadcast rights between the networks and the leagues, those who live outside of your area are not authorized to view the same games. The opposite is true in that you are unable to see pro sports on out-of-market RSNs. For example, when a network such as MSG purchases the rights from the NBA to broadcast a Knicks game, they pay a fee and broadcast it to the New York City market only. Therefore, we can only allow customers within that market to view the pro games on that channel.”

But many people looking at that Sports Pack page will never scroll to the bottom, much less click on the particular question that takes you to a different page with the real blackout information. Not good, DIRECTV.

Now, allow me to add that the 35 channels do feature some live pro and college games, but only those that are not under blackout restrictions, such as certain college football games. In addition, the channels offer pre-game and post-game shows of the blacked out contests (and other programming) on the regional sports channels.

If that appeals to you, here is a list of the 35 channels in the package:

221 CBS Sports Network
464 Univision Deportes Network
470 Spectrum Deportes
602 TVG
606 Outdoor Channel
608 FOX College Sports Alt.
608 FOX College Sports Alt.
628 NESN
630 NBC Sports Boston
631 Yankee Ent. & Sports (YES)
634 Madison Square Garden
635 MSG Plus
639 SportsNet New York
640 MASN
642 NBC Sports Washington
646 FSN South
649 Fox Sports Southeast
653 Fox Sports Sun
654 FSN Florida
659 AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh
660 FSN Ohio
661 FSN Cincinnati
662 SportsTime Ohio
663 FSN Detroit
665 NBC Sports Chicago
665 NBC Sports Chicago Plus
668 FSN North
669 FSN Wisconsin
671 FSN Midwest
674 AT&T SportsNet Southwest
675 FSN Oklahoma
676 FSN Southwest
681 Altitude Sports
683 AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
684 AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain West SD
686 FS Arizona Plus
686 FSN Arizona
687 ROOT SPORTS Northwest
691 Spectrum SportsNet
692 FSN West
693 Prime Ticket
694 FSN San Diego
696 NBC Sports Bay Area
698 NBC Sports California

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— Phillip Swann