The Ongoing Mystery of MLS Blackouts

As I type this post, I am watching the Red Bulls self destruct on Major League Soccer’s excellent MatchDay Live service.  Yet at the same time, the game is blacked out on DirectKick, the league’s television game package.  What makes the blackout mysterious, is the unavailability of MSG Network (the RSN that carries the Red Bulls) in the Hartford area.  Common sense seems to suggest that the league would aggressively work to make its product available to as many people as possible.

I 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.

I would certainly be interested in your experiences with blackouts.  Are there games that you believe should be accessible in your area that are blacked out?  Drop a line in the comment section or at

6 Responses

  1. I’m a Sounders fan and I live about 30 minutes east of Seattle. I have season tickets and also bought MatchDay Live this season. I do not have cable, so don’t have DirectKick.

    I don’t know what the experience with MatchDay is for home games, but every Sounders away game that I’ve tried to see via MatchDay is blacked out. I’ve also tried watching the occasional Portland game, but that has also been blacked out frequently, and it seems to be all the away games. I’m watching the Portland game right now on MatchDay, which is a home game for them, and it’s available.

    So what *exactly* are the criteria for when a game will be available or not? It seems absolutely dumb that I can’t get the away games for the Sounders. I just don’t get it. If it’s a TV thing, why not just pipe the channel in through MatchDay?

    I paid $40 this year for it, and I would probably pay that again regardless. But for those games that are blacked out I end getting on a “free” feed most of the time.

    To wrap it up, I haven’t spent that much time looking into the various criteria for when a game is blacked out. I do religiously follow MLS news though, and the answers to my MatchDay Live questions haven’t fallen in my lap.either. So any light anyone wants to shed on this would be awesome. The response you received from the MLS folks doesn’t do much to explain anything.

  2. Why was the RSL-NY game blacked out in Chicago?

  3. @SoundersForever: All of the Sounders games should be blacked out on Matchday Live because you are theoretically supposed to have them available on your local cable channels. MDL is for watching all the games that are not already available on your local cable package.

    Additionally, I live in San Diego and all the Chivas games are blacked out on MDLdespite the fact that they are all on FoxSports Prime Ticket, which is only available in the LA area.

  4. Not that anyone would want to watch Chivas anyway.

  5. @Clayton: Do you know any other scenarios where games would be blacked out? I suspect that all nationally televised games would be also.

  6. This was a great way to go into the break. I still can’t believe this game. Now, the MLS is back! I am very extecid to watch my Red Bulls tomorrow versus the wizrads.Great highlights! easily the most extecid game this year so far.

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