Well, I guess it’s all out in the open now. For several years Blue Jays fans have been able to enjoy watching the club’s games on the league’s outstanding MLB.tv streaming service. After quite a bit of trepidation among the fan base about whether this policy would survive the 2017 season intact, it is now a fully official thing! Enshrined, as it were, and as you can see in the image above, in an FAQ answer at MLB.tv’s Help Center.
This, as far as I know, is new.
For a long time the absence of the blackout was kept mostly quiet — something fans who knew didn’t make a lot of noise about because nobody was sure if it was actually supposed to be that way, and because MLB’s own fine print said it shouldn’t be that way. The blackout certainly was enforced before Paul Beeston arrived on the scene. Fortunately for us, as Minor Leaguer put it in a piece at Bluebird Banter a year ago, “Beeston was a big proponent of allowing fans to stream the Jays within Canada, striking a separate deal with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, an entity he helped to found in his tenure as president of Major League Baseball.” (I’ve noted several times this winter that I’ve heard the story — perhaps apocryphal — that Beeston was mad he couldn’t watch games on his iPad at the cottage and insisted on the change because of that.)
In that same year-old piece, after noting some confusion on the matter that came about in a Twitter exchange with the Jays’ former VP of business, Stephen Brooks, Minor Leaguer explained:
If you read the fine print terms and conditions, you would’ve noticed that MLB.TV had always noted that it blacks out live streaming in certain local television markets. In the Blue Jays’ case, all of Canada is considered to be their local television area, so by the letter of the policy, all their home and away games should be blacked out in this country. However, MLB.TV had not been enforcing the blackout policy as Canadian fans have been able to stream Jays games using that service since it stopped being exclusively available through Rogers on Demand.
The new page in MLB.tv’s Help Center changes that and brings it all out in the open. “Subscribers to MLB.TV accessing their subscription from Canada are able to watch live regular season Toronto Blue Jays games.” (There is a small exception: “Certain U.S. Clubs are subject to live game blackouts in parts of Canada, based on their home television territory as determined by Major League Baseball.”)
Still, for the most part we can say it: there are no blackout restrictions on Blue Jays games for Canadians. At least for now.
And surely this means it will continue to be the case at least for the entire 2017 season.
Where it goes in the future, it’s too soon to tell, but this is still great news.
Now, Rogers, if you are thinking about changing this policy next year, 1) fucking don’t (MLB.tv is worlds ahead of any other streaming service and works seamlessly on many platforms Sportsnet Nah doesn’t), and 2) if you really, really, absolutely, seriously fucking must still don’t. But at least do your loyal fans a solid and give them a goddamned heads up about it. We can do that now since we’re allowed to talk about this for real, right?
(Crotch grab in the direction of @patmccaw for the Help Center link!)