MLS Blackout Rules

Over the years, Major League Soccer’s blackout policy has mystified fans looking for games on Direct Kick and through the MLS website.  Most fans understand that nationally televised games are only available on the MLS partner station, but locating local telecasts on the various platforms can sometimes prove challenging.  MLS has improved this access, and after some problems earlier this year, most problems have been resolved.

However, sitting in Hartford, we’ve noticed that Red Bulls games are blacked out on Direct Kick  (despite no television access to the game on cable) and had fans from all over the country complain that their games aren’t accessible despite the absence of any logical reason to blackout the game.  We asked MLS about these issues and about the success of the Direct Kick and MatchDay Live program, and this was the response we got from the League:
MLS has worked with its television partners and upgraded its online video player with the intention of allowing fans to see every one of their team’s games live. Nationally-televised games are blacked out on DirectKick and MatchDay Live as part of the rights agreements. DirectKick and MatchDay Live are essentially out-of-market pay-per-view games that are purchased in bulk at a flat rate.

Markets are determined by the zip codes to which the regional carrier is distributed.   The Red Bull games should be available live in the Hartford area online via MatchDay Live. If the game is not available online, then we need to know the zip code of those who are blacked out from the game, so that we can address the issue with the local carrier.

We have noticed an overall increase in interest in both MatchDay Live and Direct Kick, and we will continue to offer both packages going forward.

One Response

  1. In regards to the blackout rules for Hartford:

    (I’m an MLS fan from CT, who used to buy Direct Kick and Matchday Live, but no more.

    The broadcast rights to Red Bulls matches are handled by Madison Square Garden Network (MSG). The country is divided up by ZIP codes (as they state above), and CT is included in the greater New York market, and not the greater New England market as one might think. As of the time of this writing, you can get Red Bulls games on cable through MSG. If you buy DirecTV’s Sports Pack, (as I do, you are granted access rights to both Red Bulls and Revolution matches as well as any other matched not blacked out by their local owners and/or MLS). As an example, I was able to freely get and watch the Chivas USA vs. Sporting KC match this past weekend through Prime Ticket, a California regional sports network that is loosely affiliated with Fox Sports. As for other games, your mileage may vary.

    Long story short: If you want all of the games, buy Direct Kick. You’ll get access to the vast majority of matches with English-language announcers, and this will supplement your national coverage, and know your regional sports network and check its schedule for airtimes and dates in your area.

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