TV Answer Man, I like your column because you write about stuff that other people don’t write about. So I got one for you. Why on earth does MLB TV black out the Giants and Oakland A’s in Guam? My God, Guam is hundreds of miles away. No one there can go to the Giants game or watch it anywhere any other way. Can you please explain this to me? — Jim, Easton, Maryland.
Jim, you’re right. MLB.TV, the online package of out-of-market regular-season games, does not allow subscribers in Guam to watch the San Francisco Giants or Oakland Athletics games. They are blacked out there.
That may sound impossible. After all, Guam is 5,798 miles away from the San Francisco/Oakland area. And as you note, NBC Sports Bay Area, which has the local rights to most Giants games, and NBC Sports California, which has the A’s games, are not available in Guam. So there’s no way for a MLB TV subscriber in Guam to watch the two teams without MLB TV. Except MLB TV doesn’t allow it!
“All live San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics games will be blacked out in the U.S. territory of Guam,” states the MLB.TV site.
MLB TV’s odd blackout rules, which also require six teams to be unavailable for viewing in the Des Moines, Iowa market, have been under fire for some time. Even the league’s commissioner doesn’t seem to always understand them, although they are supposedly set up to protect the regional sports networks.
But the Guam blackout may be the oddest blackout of all. So I asked MLB’s PR team for an explanation.
And I asked them again. And asked them again. And asked them again. And asked them again. Yes, five times.
They only responded once with a ‘we’ll get back to you.’ But after two weeks of inquiries, they have yet to get back to me.
So I did my own research and discovered that, over the years, Guam’s local TV stations have sometimes piped in network programming from San Francisco stations. Not the Giants or A’s, of course, but shows that normally air in primetime in CBS, ABC, Fox and NBC. Since Guam is so far away from the mainland — and 17 hours ahead of California time — it’s often been the only way that the local cable operators could provide the network’s shows to their subscribers.
Based on this, I have to conclude that MLB TV has concluded that Guam is part of the San Francisco/Oakland market and therefore can’t have access to Giants and A’s games the same as if their residents lived in The Castro District or Pacific Heights.
Okay, that may sound crazy, but until MLB’s PR team gets back to me, it’s the most plausible answer I can find.
Jim, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann