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- The term Blackout refers to the inability to televise a sport event in certain areas/on certain channels.
- Blackouts are the result of FCC regulations regarding contractual agreements between professional sports leagues and broadcasters.
- Blackouts are determined by the right to broadcast a given game in a given area and are defined by sports leagues or by their rights holders, such as ESPN and TNT.
- Although blackouts typically occur within a 50-mile radius of the viewer’s location, it is not possible for any one carrier to know and track all blackouts as they are subject to private contracts and FCC rules and can change without notice.
Blackouts and National Rights
If a National Network, such as ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, ESPN2 or TNT, carries a game featured on one of the Regional Sports Networks (RSN), the National Network cannot bring its signal into the RSN territory. Likewise, the RSN is prohibited from carrying the National Network signal nationwide. The game would be seen on the National Network and blacked out on the RSN. As an example, assume ESPN is covering the Chicago Blackhawks vs. New York Rangers. The game is also scheduled to be shown on Madison Square Garden Network (MSG). In this case, the MSG broadcast can only be viewed locally and is blacked out across the rest of the nation. ESPN is blacked out in the MSG territory, but available to the rest of the nation.
Blackouts and Local Rights
If a local off–air broadcast channel (not ABC, NBC, CBS or FOX) or local cable system has rights to broadcast a game in a certain region, customers in that area are unable to receive that game through their Charter subscription(s). If a regional sports network Charter carries has local rights to broadcast a game, customers within the region can receive that game through any Charter Sports Pack subscription, which includes customers' local Regional Sports Network(s).
Sports Subject to Blackouts
The following sports are subject to blackouts:
- NFL (National Football League)
- NBA (National Basketball Association)
- NHL (National Hockey League)
- MLB (Major League Baseball)
- The College Level of each of the above sports as applicable