Out-of-market sports package
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In North America, an out-of-market sports package is a form of subscription television that broadcasts sporting events to areas where the events are unable to be seen by viewers on other broadcast and cable television networks due to the games not being broadcast in their local market.
Many leagues with major television contracts establish elaborate rules regarding which games are broadcast in different regions (with local teams usually getting preference). For viewers who prefer to see a game other than the one being locally broadcast in their designated market area, the out-of market package provides additional options.
Rationale for sports packages
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While such a thing may not appear necessary to the average sports fan who lives in the market of their team, many circumstances may be in place that generate the desire to view teams out of market. Some include:
- Fans moving from the market of their favorite team – while that team could be viewed nationally on broadcast or cable television, or when the team plays the local sports franchise, those opportunities are few and far between;
- Simply being a fan of an out of market team;
- Better competition – such as in the case of college football and basketball. For example, the option to watch a few of the most competitive or most interesting national games each week, in addition to one's home team's games. Except for the Southeastern Conference, for example, no conference is assured of a national game of the week at the same time slot every week;
- Additional opportunities to watch one sport – such as when a home team may not have a game to play, or creating one's own doubleheader; watching an early game, then a late game;
- Rivalries – having the desire to watch a rival team's games, or games of teams in the same athletic conference or division as one's favorite teams, which may not be regularly available in one's market;
- Living in an area without an in-market team at the highest level in a sport – this usually means availability only of nationally televised games. Though these will often show a regional game, it may be the "most interesting" regional game, resulting in many missed games even when following the geographically closest team. Leagues will often designate "secondary markets" to prevent this from happening;
- Involvement in a fantasy sports league – a sports fan who is "managing" a fantasy team may have the desire to watch the performance of players in several games that are being played simultaneously and thus has the ability to switch back and forth between games.
- Blackouts – most major sports leagues have a blackout policy that prevents viewers of a particular television channel (usually a regional sports network) from seeing games on that channel outside of a certain geographic area (specifically to direct out of town viewers to the package).
Cable and satellite
- MLB Extra Innings - Available to DirecTV and most digital cable providers.
- MLS Direct Kick - Available to DirecTV, Dish Network and most digital cable providers.
- NBA League Pass - Available to DirecTV, Dish Network and most digital cable providers.
- NFL Sunday Ticket - Exclusive to DirecTV*
- NHL Center Ice - Available to DirecTV, Dish Network and most digital cable providers.
- ESPN GamePlan - Available to DirecTV, Dish Network and most digital cable providers; available at no extra charge to ESPN3.com subscribers
- ESPN Full Court - Available to DirecTV, Dish Network and most digital cable providers; available at no extra charge to ESPN3.com subscribers
* NFL Sunday Ticket is exclusive to DirecTV in the United States, but in other countries (most notably Canada) it is available more broadly, on several cable providers.
With the exception of ESPN3, Internet sports packages are primarily marketed directly to consumers and not through cable or satellite providers. Current Internet television and radio subscription or pay-per-view services include:
- MLB.com Gameday Audio
- MLS Live
- NFL Audio Pass (NFL, radio)
- NHL Gamecenter Live
- NBA League Pass Broadband
- UFC Fight Pass
- CFL Broadband (TV)
- WatchESPN (a TV Everywhere service offering streaming of ESPN, ESPN2, and the web-exclusive service ESPN3)
Major League Baseball and the National Football League are the only professional sports leagues to black out local affiliates' internet radio feeds. Ironically, while the NFL charges money for radio feeds, it sells the Internet television rights to other networks that make those games available online for free, the opposite model of the other major sports leagues.
- Dewitt, Burton (2009-01-10). "The Trouble with Being An Out of Market Sports Fan". Rice Standard. Rice University. Retrieved 2011-02-14.