TV/Media: Surprise! We're in the Cubs' television market
By Marc Katz
Dayton Daily News
So my boss calls me Wednesday afternoon and wants to know why the Reds aren't on ESPN as advertised. I'm working, of course, and didn't notice.
At first, I'm relieved. It's not The Boss, who wants me to go to the grocery again and clean up my mess. It's the guy at work, who doesn't want to get caught goofing off at Great American Ball Park, so he turns on his desktop television and gets ESPN News.
(He's probably still goofing off, but he's made a phone call to me, so it's like work.)
No problem. I'll make one call, get an explanation of blackout situations and be done with it.
Two days and about 25 phone calls later, I've got a better idea of what happened, but it's still not as crystal clear as one of those allergy medication commercials.
Hold on to your ballcaps. We're in Cubs territory.
OK, OK. I know we're not. We're not even close, although you may have noticed all the Cubs fans at Reds games over the years. Must be they can't get tickets to Wrigley Field, and playing the Reds is usually good luck.
It turns out Major League Baseball draws up territorial rights, and Mercer County, Van Wert and Paulding along the western edge of the state, have been deemed Cubs territory.
That's the part I'm not clear about. I'm awaiting a few more call-backs.
Since Mercer County (think Celina) is serviced by Time Warner Cable, which also services the greater Dayton area, the game was blacked out here.
Teams sometimes black out road games, I'm told, because other stations hold the rights, even if ESPN has a package that includes some of their games. The local station can black out the games in its area. No other Cincinnati station held the rights to Wednesday's game, so ESPN showed the game to viewers in the Queen City. (EDIT-I thought it WAS blacked out in Cincinnati
In Chicago, another station — Comcast — did have the rights, and the game was shown, but not on ESPN. That station's rights superseded ESPN's, which immediately shut down all the usual Cubs outlets, which are mostly in Illinois (just a guess) and Indiana.
We're big Cubs fans in Ohio, too, but only when we can't get the Red Sox (wink, wink).
The people at Major League Baseball assured me that Dayton would not be blacked out again, although the folks at ESPN said it might, if ESPN were televising the Cubs and Reds.
That's not the answer you're looking for, but consider the bigger — more frightening — picture. If MLB can't figure out where Cubs fans end and Reds fans begin, how are they ever going to determine whether Barry Bonds took steroids?
Contact Marc Katz at 225-2157 or firstname.lastname@example.org