TV Answer Man, in 2020 the cable and satellite companies gave a refund on regional sports fees because Covid cancelled so many games. Will they do the same now that Major League Baseball has cancelled part of this season because of the player lockout? — Terry, Pontiac, Michigan. 

Terry, you’re right. Pay TV operators (and MLB TV) provided refunds on their regional sports fees after Major League Baseball was forced to play a 60-game season in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The refunds ranged from $8 to $25 in most cases with some services offering multiple returns.

So what about 2022 after Major League Baseball just cancelled the first two series of this season because of the labor dispute between the owners and players? Will the cable and satellite companies begin issuing more refunds?

Not quite for two reasons.

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1. Despite cancelling the two series, MLB executives say it’s still possible that a full 162-game season could be played. The season could be started later than scheduled to allow time for a four-week spring training and all 162 regular season games. That is, if the owners and players can settle their differences in the next few days.

2. Ken Rosenthal, the veteran baseball writer and analyst at The Athletic, writes that the rebate process doesn’t trigger until approximately 25 games are canceled.

“April is typically a month of low attendance and revenue for many clubs, particularly those in colder climates. Local television contracts generally do not require clubs to issue rebates to their networks until about 25 games are missed, according to a source with knowledge of such deals,” Rosenthal writes.

That would suggest that the teams, and the regional sports channels, would not be forced to begin returning money to the pay TV services until roughly a full month of games are cancelled. And the pay TV services wouldn’t provide the refunds until they get their money back from the regional sports channels which won’t do that until they get their money back from the teams.

Complicated? Yes, but that’s how it works.

Terry, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann