SBD/March 11, 2014/Media

Crew Negotiated Regional TV Blackouts, Clarifying MLS Did Not Mandate The Decision

Crew execs asked for no blackout, then compromised on a 75-mile radius
The MLS Crew said that a regional blackout of Crew games is "here to stay, but the club still is looking for ways to increase its viewership on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel," according to Adam Jardy of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. An MLS spokesperson said that there is "no league-wide blackout policy preventing fans from watching their local teams on either" Direct Kick or MLS Live, adding that blackout rules are "set by the individual clubs and their local broadcast partners." Crew President & GM Mark McCullers said, "If I said it was league-mandated, that was a mistake. We have a 75-mile commercial radius that impacts our commercial-rights territory, but the local and regional television rights and blackout ranges, those are part of negotiations, so they do vary." He added that FS Ohio, the Crew's former local TV partner, "had a statewide blackout policy, but that was not felt as strongly because more fans got that channel than do TWC Sports Channel." McCullers also said that the Crew "began this round of negotiations asking for no blackout and compromised with the 75-mile radius." McCullers: "In order to get the things that we wanted and felt were important, and that Time Warner wanted to do in terms of investing in our television property, they were looking of protection in a certain coverage area." Crew Chair Anthony Precourt "defended the decision on Twitter." Precourt wrote the situation is "not optimal, but our best alternative." McCullers said that the Crew "will spend more than $500,000 to broadcast its games, lower than what it paid in its previous deal" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 3/11).
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