Padres TV Blackout Survival Guide

Last year, when the Padres games weren’t shown on Time Warner Cable, I was ill-prepared. I didn’t expect the blackout to last all season, and I wasted a lot of time and energy bitching about the situation rather than doing anything constructive. I tried watching a game at a sports bar, but that didn’t work for me.

Fortunately, I learned a few things along the way that might help those of you who also cannot watch the Padres in the comfort of your own home. This could come in handy since Time Warner doesn’t appear to be interested in changing its position regardless of what local politicians may desire.

Yes, Fox Sports San Diego has expanded its reach for the 2013 season, but maybe you’re a stubborn Taurus like me. It is difficult, but not impossible, to survive having no Padres live on television in your home all year. Here are some tips:

  • Pretend you are somewhere else – Try an exotic locale, where you know it would be impossible to watch the Padres on TV. Let’s say you’re in Sri Lanka, but with the benefit of being able to hop in your car and be at Petco Park in 30 minutes if you want to watch the game in person.
  • Ditch cable – This seems hard until you do it. You think you’ll miss Mantracker and Millionaire Matchmaker but you won’t. You won’t miss commercials or the extra $75 being sucked from your bank account each month. You’ll miss live TV, but not that much. To do this, you’ll need five things:
    • An Internet connection
    • A Roku box – Allows you to stream video over the Internet
    • Netflix – Has a huge selection of streaming movies and TV shows for one monthly price
    • Amazon Prime – Covers most of what Netflix doesn’t; there will be overlap, but it’s still way cheaper than cable
    • MLB.tv – Watch every game of the 2013 season live (except those involving the Padres if you’re in San Diego; those you can watch approximately 90 minutes after the final out, so you’ll want to stay off Facebook and Twitter if you care about spoilers) and rewatch any of them at any time
  • Do other things – While the games are taking place, maybe say hi to the wife and kids or read a good book. Learn a new skill, like playing the guitar or cooking. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish when you’re not distracted by live baseball on television (to say nothing of Millionaire Matchmaker).

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be mad at the situation. You should, because it is stupid, pointless, and annoying. But being mad only gets you so far in life. Eventually, you need to focus on solutions other than shouting and shaking your fists.

To recap: Pretend you are in Sri Lanka (or some other place that suits your fancy), ditch cable, and do other things. Not only will you survive another season without Padres baseball in your living room, you will thrive!

The team you follow should be so lucky.

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What are your Padres TV blackout survival tips? Leave a comment, send an email (geoff@sonofaduck.com), or hit me up on Twitter (@ducksnorts).

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  • So, Geoff. What do you currently have at your house for a set-up and what is the monthly cost?

    • Geoff Young

      I forget the exact cost, but our setup is exactly as described in the article and we are saving $75 per month versus what we paid with cable.

      We also have a PS3 but haven’t tried streaming with it (another option, as David points out), preferring to use a dedicated device for that purpose.

      • Axion

        PS3’s biggest disadvantage for TV/movies is that it has a fan. The older it gets, the louder it is.

      • VM David

        On top of that, I could swear the streaming services lag on PS3 compared to the other options in the house.

      • I have an early model XBOX360 and a Sony Blu-ray player that – between the two – play Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, ESPN3, as well as MLB.tv. I cut the cord on cable and upgraded to 24Mbps down. No lag, enough internal options on those devices (although I might get a Roku later), and I can always hook up my laptop through HDMI if necessary.

        I have U-verse and, like Geoff, I save over $75 a month. Totally worth it for me, even if I can’t watch the Padres live. There’s always the option of spoofing a location to watch live if you’re desperate, although then we’re debating the legality of your actions.

  • VM David

    Another option, if you ditch cable: Take the money you’re saving on your cable bill, and buy a nice, new television. You know you want one. And if you do your homework, you’ll find one with wi-fi built in along with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and most of the services built into a Roku box.

    If you have a PS3 or Xbox 360, you can stream most of these services (and ESPN3 on Xbox) through those.

  • My advice to people who do look at purchasing MLB.tv, is make sure you check out MiLB.tv as well. That, and watch the A’s. That was fun last year.

  • SDPads1

    Wow. All that stuff kind of sounds like a “hassle” to me GY 🙂

    • Geoff Young

      IT IS NOT A HASSLE!!! Well, okay… maybe a little. 😉

  • Axion

    Cable cutter here. Hulu Plus is great for staying up to date with the major network shows the day after airing, so you get that “live TV but DVR’d” experience. They still show ads, tho.

  • Melvin

    Unfortunately it’s the newest versions of Project Runway that mean we have to keep cable around in my household. I have looked into streaming options since my Wii, which runs Netflix, isn’t HD.

    The OUYA looks cool gaming focused Roku alternative (http://www.ouya.tv/), that runs Android but won’t let you play games you already own without some hacking. A little further down the line a Steambox would be really nice since my entire gaming life is in Steam and I’d have a ton of games available.

    • SDPads1

      You do love you some Project Runway. “Auf Wiedersehen”

      I’m not a gamer at all but I’ve looked into Apple TV along with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, etc. I know all about MLB.tv but when it comes to games I feel like part of the enjoyment I get from watching games is watching them live with friends and discussing it as it’s happening. That’s the one thing that has kept me from dropping my $200+ a month Cox bill.

    • Axion

      ouya and steambox won’t be out for the start of the season and as generation one products, you can be sure they’re not going to be as refined, especially for video, as a Roku 3.

    • I quit Project Runway when they gave Anya the win a couple of seasons back. Watched a bit of All-stars, but that’s been it. I’m surprised at how little I’ve missed it, considering how obsessed I was with earlier seasons.

      • Melvin

        What bothers me about the show is how the “judges” just make shit up and randomly decide on a winner. There’s no criteria at all! They’re just like, “I wasn’t feeling your design, so you lose.” It’s like dealing with clients.

        And if I hear Heidi say “fasion” one more time I’m going to lose it.

  • I’ve looked into canceling our cable and relying on Netflix, Hulu, DVDs, etc. The two things keeping me from doing it: A) live television (mostly an issue with sports but we also enjoy awards shows); B) spoilers. I don’t mind waiting 8 months to see what happens on Game of Thrones or Mad Men but I will mind a great deal when I read about it on Twitter with no ability to watch it.

    I can’t rave about the MLB.tv product enough. Living outside of San Diego’s television market it’s been a life saver. And having the ability to watch every other game is great. No-hitter in the 7th in Houston? Switch over. Brewers need to win to keep Wild Card hopes alive? No problem. It’s fantastic.

    • VM David

      Game of Thrones is easy enough to avoid due to it being on a pay channel (working through season 2 now!), but Mad Men is a very specific example of why we haven’t quite ditched DirecTV all together.

    • I would guess that it’s also a nightmare of trying to avoid Breaking Bad spoilers on Facebook/twitter, as well.

      • Also very true. Mad Men, Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire. If I could avoid all spoilers from those shows I’d be one step closer to cutting cable. I will say we’ve been able to avoid spoilers on Homeland which we only watch on DVD as we don’t have Showtime. But that did require quite a bit of effort. (By “quite a bit of effort I really just mean staying off Twitter and Facebook for a few hours. So, you know, first world pains).

  • padresfuture

    Just moved to phx…. Is MLB.tv fairly cheap and does it play on the roku

    • $109.99 per year for the basic service or $129.99 per year for the premium service (free at bat app [mobile phone video and audio], PS3/XBOX360/Roku compatibility, both home and away feeds). And yes, mlb.tv is on roku (as well as a bunch of other devices)
      http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/subscriptions/index.jsp?c_id=mlb
      http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/subscriptions/index.jsp?content=products
      I think some of the western phoenix suburbs are still padres territory, you might want to put your zip code in on the bottom part of those webpages

      • padresfuture

        Thanks for the info. So, since I am a part of the Padres TV territory, even 350 miles away, how do I watch them on TV? Or do they expect me to drive 350 miles to petco?

      • Get a VPN or Proxy service.

      • your LEGAL options are to go with directv or dish and pay extra for their RSN sports packs. You’d probably still have problems though with the satellite company not realizing you are within the padres territory though. I feel your pain man. I have a similar yet different problem with Las Vegas being blacked out for 6 teams.

  • I love Mantracker. That’s my crack.

  • Gloccamorra

    Have you forgotten what people did before TV? RADIO!
    You just need to get the hang of the announcers – bring a radio to Petco, and you’ll see what the announcers are describing, and you can make your adjustments. I did that years ago, and quickly learned that with men on base, Jerry Coleman would describe “a long fly ball to left, to the wall… and caught on the warning track!”. At the stadium, it was a routine fly ball caught about fifty feet short of the warning track. Jerry liked to liven things up for the at-home listeners.

    Bottom line: if you can’t SEE it, at least HEAR the game.