Recently Jason Collette at Baseball Prospectus wrote an article on team radio affiliations, which included a graph showing how far from a team’s stadium the game broadcast could be heard over the air. Shockingly, the winner was the Yankees, who have an affiliate in Anchorage Alaska carrying their games. And 30th on that particular graphic? Our San Diego Padres, for which ‘NO DATA AVAILABLE’ was listed.
What exactly does ‘NO DATA AVAILABLE’ mean? Apparently it means you can’t get a Padres game – for free – outside of San Diego. A quick check of the 2012 Padres media guide confirms this.* The only stations carrying Padres games are the Mighty 1090 AM, and La Poderosa AM 890 (Spanish).
It’s bad enough that the current Time Warner impasse prevents ~20% of the fan base from watching Padres games on TV. Why is it the Padres are the only Major League franchise without any kind of Radio Network?
I will admit, up front, I do not know if the same restrictions applied to TV broadcasts hold true for radio. For instance, my cable TV package includes Fox Sports West in all it’s variations, but I have yet to see a Dodger or Angel game for free on those stations. I don’t, however, believe the same restrictions apply to radio, and I believe that because I can listen to Angels games on 800AM while driving across the county on 905. If the Angels have no qualms about providing free access to their games DEEP in San Diego country, why would ownership hesitate to have an affiliated station in Orange County?
Part of the problem is MLB’s insistence on making everything part of a revenue stream. Not fifteen years ago, I had the flagship radio station website for every NL team bookmarked on my computer. MLB games were streamed over the internet for free. Ah, the good ol’ days. Today of course, one has to pay for the privilege of hearing an ‘out of market’ game, and there are a couple of ways of doing that:
- SIRIUS/XM radio. With the XM Select package, for $14.49/mo, you have access to every home team broadcast on the radio.
- MLB At Bat/MLB.tv. The MLB At Bat app will set you back $19.99, or $2.99/mo, and includes access to radio audio. With an attachment allowing your iPhone to stream through your radio, you can hear whatever game you like. If you decide to buy MLB.tv Premium, the benevolent folks at MLB will throw in the app for free. MLB.tv Premium runs $24.99/mo. Update: I forgot that Padres games are blacked out in Padre country. Silly me.
If I’m a Padres fan living in Albany NY it’s unrealistic to expect the team to have a local radio affiliate, so either option is the only way to go. But we’re not talking about the fan across the country. We don’t have the historical cache the Yankees do which would support broadcasting to places like Anchorage AK. We’re talking about those Padres fans living in El Centro*, Temecula**, El Toro. The Mighty 1090 advertises 50,000 watts, but even with that much broadcast power the signal gets pretty spotty 80 miles from Rosarito.
Is it really so expensive or difficult to have a radio affiliate out in East County, or in southern Orange County?
The Padres struggle to attract new fans and keep the ones they already have. Success on the diamond is the surest way to do both, and (fingers crossed) with the current crop of rapidly maturing prospects they will be a playoff contender before very much longer. If no one knows, what difference does it make? This team needs to get their broadcasts out to a wider local audience than just those who 1090′s signal can reach, or those opposing fans turning on MLB.tv or SIRIUSXM to listen to the Cubs as presented by Ted Leitner.
I can hear Angel games all the way to the border. I can hear Dodger games deep into North County. Why won’t the Padres return the favor?
*Note: I don’t have a copy of the 2013 media guide, although I understand it’s out. And, the Dodgers currently have an affiliate in El Centro. We’re the team of the military, right? Yet the Giants have affiliates in Hawaii.
** Another Update: Various comments below indicate Padres games can be heard as far north as Rancho Cucamonga and LA proper. Which is good news.
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