There’s little TV hope for Las Vegans following Calif., Ariz. MLB teams

Bruce Arnold understands the frustration Las Vegans endure when it comes to watching Major League Baseball on television.

Thanks to the harsh television restrictions the MLB divvies up across the country, no one has it worse than Las Vegas and Iowa.

Arnold, 59, resides in Des Moines, Iowa, and has a second home in Las Vegas.

Six pro baseball franchises claim Iowa as their “home” territory: Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals. Making it virtually impossible for people in Iowa to watch those six teams on television. Nearly half of the 15 games the MLB shows on a daily basis.

“It’s hit or miss whenever those teams are on TV,” Arnold said. “Even bars don’t know what team will be on any given night.”

Like Iowa, six MLB teams claim Las Vegas as their television territory: Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants.

These territories were created decades ago to prevent out-of-area teams from promoting in different areas of the country, according to Matt Bourne, the vice president for business communications for MLB. This prevented teams with rich history like the New York Yankees from prying fans away from the Baltimore Orioles or the Miami Marlins.

This ancient rule has now forced baseball fans in areas without an MLB franchise to watch out-of-market teams — the opposite reason why the territories were created.

Iowa’s blackout restrictions haven’t affected Arnold too much since he’s a Giants fan. Arnold has the option of either paying for the MLB Extra Innings television package or subscribe to MLB.TV for the online service to get access to the Giants games, unless they’re playing one of the six Iowa market teams.

Arnold plans on moving to Las Vegas with his wife, Kim, when he retires in five years. He won’t get his Giants in Vegas.

“Oh, my Lord,” said Arnold after being told about Las Vegas being claimed by the Giants. “I didn’t think about it. That’s going to be a problem.”

Las Vegas baseball fans could fork over $200 for MLB’s “Extra Innings” or pay $109.99 for the online service with MLB.TV to watch nearly 100 games per week. But buyers in Las Vegas beware.

You won’t get access to the six teams claiming Las Vegas as a territory. This also affects fans from out-of-market teams living in Las Vegas. For example, a New York Mets fan won’t get access to the Mets when they play the Giants later this month or the Dodgers next month.

Unless you’re a T-Mobile customer and took advantage of the free MLB.TV subscription special last week, it’s not worth the hassle to purchase the baseball packages living in Las Vegas or Iowa.

The MLB package and its blackouts restrictions are messy compared to the NBA and NFL packages. For the NFL’s “Sunday Ticket,” you won’t have access to primetime games or games being televised on local channels. Fair enough.

For the NBA’s “League Pass,” you could watch the exciting Golden State Warriors from the Bay Area. The only restrictions are the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, who are televised in Las Vegas on Time Warner Cable Sportsnet and Fox Sports Prime Ticket. Easy to understand.

There are ways to get around the MLB blackout restrictions if you’re willing to pay more.

DirecTV’s regional sports networks in Las Vegas allow customers to watch the Angels (Fox Sports West) and the Diamondbacks (Fox Sports Arizona). To watch the Giants, Padres and Athletics on their respective regional sports networks, it’s required to have the the sports package, which could cost up to $12.99 a month. There are similar offers with Dish TV.

There are less options with Cox Communications cable company. Cox televises the Angels on Fox Sports West, the Diamondbacks on Fox Prime Ticket and the Padres on Cox-96, but doesn’t offer the CSN Bay Area and CSN California channels, where the Giants and A’s are televised.

There aren’t many options for Dodgers fans in Sin City. With Time Warner holding the exclusive Dodgers channel hostage, the Dodgers will only be aired for nationally televised games or whenever they play the Angels, Diamondbacks or Padres, for those who have Cox.

For millennials who do all their binge watching online, the best case scenario is to watch the archive games on MLB.TV. For those who prefer live games, maybe it’s time to root for an out-of-market team to avoid the frustration.

There might be light at the end of the tunnel. A new feature on MLB.TV called “Follow Your Team” will allow you to watch in-market games if you subscribe to your local regional sports network; however, only the road broadcast will be available. That costs an extra $10.

MLB.TV hasn’t announced when this option will be available. According to an MLB.TV customer service employee, the feature could come later this month.

Kim Arnold became a Giants fan because of her husband Bruce, who was raised in Carson City before moving to Iowa.

“I probably should have been a Cubs or Cardinals fan,” said Kim Arnold, before watching the Las Vegas 51s take on the Sacramento River Cats, the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, on Thursday. “But we only got a limited amount of those games. So I decided to root for the Giants.”

Kim Arnold might have to root for a Midwest team now that she’s moving out West in a few years or pay DirecTV to watch the Giants.

“These prices are insane,” Bruce Arnold said. “I don’t want to pay for the MLB channels. Maybe I’ll just stick to minor league baseball.”

Contact Gilbert Manzano at gmanzano@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0492. Follow him on Twitter:@gmanzano24

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