New iPhones Have Streaming (Blacked Out) Baseball Games

Local games will still be blacked out

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009  |  Updated 12:15 PM CDT
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Upset that your loved one can't stop texting, tweeting or otherwise using a mobile device to ignore you? If they're a baseball fan, you may just have to take up knitting because there's a pretty good chance you won't be seeing them again until October's over.

The iPhone 3.0 operating system, launching on Wednesday, will feature live streaming games previously only available on televisions and computers. Earlier this year MLB.com launched their At Bat service with audio broadcasts and video highlights of the games, but tomorrow the service will expand to include the whole magillah. The cost is $9.99 for the rest of the season, according to Maury Brown at the Biz of Baseball.

What a boon to the work-bound baseball fan eager to keep up with his or her favorite team's action, right? Not so fast, my friends. Thanks to technology developed by MLB.com, the phones will follow the same blackout restrictions familiar to MLB Extra Innings subscribers.

Those blackout rules are arcane. They black out Iowans from watching the Cubs, White Sox, Royals, Cardinals, Twins and Brewers, for example, even though few Iowa homes receive the broadcasts of all six of those games on a regular basis. Purchasers of MLB's cable TV package or internet broadcasts are therefore unable to watch the games of the very teams they bought the service for in the first place.

That's maddening, but it makes even less sense on the phone application. The whole idea of having baseball games on your phone is so you can watch games when you aren't away from home, a bar or wherever you normally consume your baseball. How many people who could otherwise be watching a game on television is going to choose to watch it on their phone instead? Instead of protecting local television contracts and ratings, MLB is just assuring that people aren't going to watch the games at all.

It's also a bit disconcerting that Bud Selig will have the ability to locate you with a few clicks of a keyboard. The Orwellian fright of Big Brother knowing your move has nothing on Bud.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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