At last week's Streaming Media East show, we had many of the largest content owners in attendance and I got to spend a little bit of time with many of them hearing more details about their business. One of the many things I learned was that MLB expects to be able to resolve the online blackout restrictions for their MLB.TV service sooner than people may imagine. While no timeline was given, MLB made it clear that they think they can resolve the issue and that there is enough money to go around to pay everyone to make it possible to get in market games through their online video offering, sooner rather then later.
Doing away with blackout restrictions is essential in order for MLBAM to take their business to the next level of growth. Right now, MLB.TV is missing a huge percentage of the market who would not get MLB.TV simply because they don't travel and don't need to follow their team outside of their viewing area. The moment MLBAM can open the service up to anyone who wants to follow their team outside of the TV set, the size of the market that MLB.TV can go after increases dramatically. While some may say that it's about time MLBAM finds a way around this, keep in mind they have been pushing for this for years. It's not as if MLBAM has been blind to the problem and Bob Bowman told me last week that of all calls to the support center for MLB.TV, not surprisingly, blackout restrictions are the number one complaint.