Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wait. How do I follow the Astros this season?

A new season with a new league and a new manager and new everything. About the only thing that remains the same are the sportswriters who think it's funny to be ignorant about the Astros. The TV deal still isn't resolved, the radio station has changed, and the Chronicle is making you pay $10/month for online content. How are you supposed to follow the Astros this season (aside from your neighborhood Astros blog & grill)?

Video version:

I live in Houston, but I'm one of those poor bastards who can't get CSN Houston. Can I watch the Astros on MLB.tv? 

Ha ha ha. Nope! MLB.tv follows blackout restrictions, so you better hope that G-Post and Crane make a deal with every available provider so you can watch it.

Wait. I don't live in Houston, but in (some other city in Texas, Louisiana, or eastern New Mexico). Am I going to be able to watch Astros games on MLB.tv? 

Ha ha ha. Nope! Because thanks to MLB's blackout map, they seem to think that you should be able to make it down to Minute Maid Park for a 7:05pm start. Even if you live in Amarillo. Now, if you live outside of Texas, Louisiana, or eastern New Mexico, you can totally get MLB.tv and watch the Astros.

That's stupid. Is MLB actively preventing me from being able to watch the Astros, even if I want to pay them $130? 

You're right, yep, and yes.


What is my only hope?

That your television provider pick up CSN Houston.

Can I do something where I hack the location of my computer so that MLB.tv thinks I'm somewhere else? 

Probably. But that's also likely illegal, so there's no way I'm giving you tips on how to do that.

What if I give my dear auntie Rachel who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan $130 to buy MLB.tv, and I use her login information? 

You know, that might actually work. UPDATE: From some of the comments below, MLBAM checks your IP address from the device you're logging in under - so that won't work if you're in Texas. Just another way MLBAM is trying to keep you from watching Astros games.

Can't I just go to a bar? 

This is America. You can do whatever you set your heart to. But you also have to deal with everyone at Buffalo Wild Wings who yells, "Why are we watching the Astros? I want to play trivia with Dan Patrick!" 

Radio version:

What is this 790 AM thing?

740 KTRH is no longer the flagship home of the Houston Astros, and this is weird. I haven't regularly visited Houston since 2006, and 740 AM is still the #1 pre-set on my car's radio. (The Astros Radio Network station in Temple is the second pre-set, because in driving between Abilene and Houston, I could pick up Astros games in Temple.) But never mind that. How are you supposed to listen to Astros games now? You can see the 790 AM coverage map here.

Thing is, 790 AM is a Clear Channel station. So it stands to reason that Clear Channel stations in other markets will have first pass at broadcasting Astros games. 

Who is a part of the new Astros Radio Network?

Well, here is the list of stations that are a part of the Astros Radio Network (of course this is outdated - it was last updated on March 1, 2012). So I contacted all of the radio stations listed to see if they would be broadcasting Astros games in 2013.

Yes:

Austin - 1300 AM (KVET): They will broadcast Astros games when there isn't a conflict with UT athletics. The station manager said that between 90-100 games were broadcast in 2012.
Bryan/College Station - 1150 AM (KZNE)
Columbus - 98.3 FM (KULM)
Corpus Christi - 1230 AM (KSIX)
Waco - 1010 AM (KBBW)
San Antonio - 760 AM (KTKR)

No:

Minden, LA - 1240 AM (KASO)

Don't Know/They Don't Bother Returning Emails/Phone Calls:

Livingston - 1440 AM (KETX)
Lufkin - 1260 AM (KSML)
McAllen - 1240 AM (KSOX) - From what I understand, they didn't even broadcast games last season, either.
New Orleans - 1560 AM (WSLA)
Shreveport - 1300 AM (KSYB)
Victoria - 1340 AM (KVNN)

What about that IHeartRadio or TuneIn Radio thing?

Nope. MLB Advanced Media has made sure that you cannot access internet streams of live baseball games, in order to get you to buy one of their apps - either Gameday Audio or MLB.tv.

So I live in Houston, but I can't get 790 on my radio (or, I don't even own a freaking radio), will Gameday Audio be blacked out for me?

According to Gameday Audio ($19.95/season), there are no blackout restrictions. So you SHOULD be able to listen to all Astros games on Gameday Audio. The MLB At-Bat app is a little cheaper, and doesn't have the blackout restrictions, as well.

Hey, Chief. I have Sirius/XM. Won't that work?

Oh. Yes. 

18 comments:

What The Heck said...

One would think that the Astros ownership would want to encourage fans to follow the team, not make it more difficult, but alas ...

Cockroach said...

Arkansas is also in the "local live blackout" region for MLB.tv, so that won't work here either. But I can confirm that Gameday Audio is not subject to those blackout restrictions, as that's how I've listened to every Astros game for the last several seasons.

Until this year, we were also able to watch Astros games on cable via Fox Sports Southwest, but not so now with the new CSN Houston. So I'm stuck in audio-only purgatory until they work out the TV deals...

Anonymous said...

Having someone else buy it won't work, it determines your location by your IP when you log in. So if you bought an MLB.tv account and were travelling and tried to watch a Yankees game in NY, you'd be blacked out, for example.

The way to get around it is to use a proxy that's outside what's considered the local area for the team. I don't think it's illegal, but it does violate the rules of the mlb.tv agreement

Anonymous said...

You cannot use your aunt's subscription in Chicago or anywhere outside the blackout area. They also use your IP address to confirm your location. You could use her subscription if you also use a proxy IP server (or at least this worked for me three years ago when I had a subscription, lived in NJ but had an IP address that was F'd up and saying I lived in Texas!).

Anonymous said...

You may not talk about "illegal" ways to access the Astros, but I will. www.slipstreamtv.com. Warning: there are pop-up abound on this website. DO NOT INSTALL ANYTHING!!!! Find the hidden "X" buttons to close pop-ups and make sure if it says "ad will close in 30 secs" to wait the 30 secs. MACs are less vulnerable to malware than PCs. You do not need to install a plug in. Baseball games can be found under Sports Links 3 and 5. Find the Astros game and click the link (this is when the pop-ups start). After you have successfully eliminated those, your game will start. Once you go full screen, pop-ups will stay in the background so you can enjoy the game in full screen as long a you would like. This is really a small annoyance for the access that you get. Do this at your own risk, but the payoff is worth it.

Paul said...

Wait.. I watch a ton of games last year from New Orleans on FOXSW. Is that not available this year? If not, what the heck will FOXSW be airing? And why?

ntxlfty said...

Raise your hand if you're surprised. Nobody? Sigh.

Bigbot said...

FOXSW should be airing Rangers games.

Anonymous said...

If you're using a proxy to use your mlb.tv sub to watch Astros games, you only need to log in while using the proxy. Once logged in, you can stop using it and use your normal internet connection to actually stream the game. If you try to stream the game itself through a proxy you'll likely find that it's too slow.

Anonymous said...

I am told that proxy isn't enough. MLB is also restricting based on method of payment location. In other words, if you pay by credit card it using your zip code to blackout your login.

scribe62 said...

What about the DirecTV Extra Innings package?

Anonymous said...

You can buy a slingbox, get a relative or friend outside the blacked out areas to purchase the Extra Innings Package, hook up your slingbox at that relative's or friend's home, and watch the Astros on Extra Innings thru the slingbox remotely from Houston or wherever in the blackout region you live. That'll set you back about $500 and then you have to rely on the relative or friend to make sure no one in his house changes the channel while you are watching the game and hope his home network doesn't crash when he's not around to fix it.

Mark said...

IF and this is a big IF you know how to watch streaming live TV online, go to usagoals.com they have streaming sports live from around the world and you should be able to watch the feed that way.

A tip to the inexperienced if you do this, you do not need the plugin and you need to tap out the x's on the ad's

Anonymous said...

I carry them! 1310 KEZM in Sulphur/Lake Charles, La.

Anonymous said...

Great answers. Thanks for making me laugh in the midst of this absurdly horrible mess. I've watched 100+ games a year for about 13 years, and this season I've seen 3. ALso found out they jacked up ticket prices at Minute Maid this year, and are rigidly enforcing seating sections which they used to not worry about.

eagz28 said...

do something about blackouts
http://www.change.org/petitions/congress-to-remove-baseball-s-antitrust-exemption-stop-blackouts-in-baseball

KWB said...

Thanks for helping me kick a 50 year old habit MLB, you have successfully weened a lifetime fan.

Anonymous said...

FYI - I live in Austin and of course fall under this ridiculous clusterf&ck. I have DirectTV Extra Innings package and they too blackout the game as I assume they also have a dispute. And I have realized this applies to ALL Houston sports teams not just the Astros! I can listen to the games on XM and thru MLB.com radio but they will not show the video. I will be trying a VPN connection to somewhere outside this area to see if I can fool MLB.com. Otherwise I'm screwed. You would think MLB would be all over this as a team like the Astros who are struggling to build back a fan base cannot do so if people in and around their own city can't watch the games!