For those who live in Canada and are considering purchasing the MLB.TV live game streaming service to watch the Blue Jays on your computers and devices this season, there was a bit of a scare Monday night that Blue Jays games may be blacked out across Canada this season. Stephen Brooks, the Blue Jays' senior vice-president of business operations, responded to a fan's tweet that led me, and some others on Twitter, to believe that a block may be coming.
I had interpreted that the initial tweet had meant that, "as of now, there would be no in-market streaming". However, after some fervor on Twitter, Brooks stepped back to clarify that there won't be any changes at all compared to previous arrangements, as far as he knows.
No change from py as far as I know. And yes, it is unfortunately confusing. https://t.co/4Cz98y4rmY— Stephen R Brooks (@sbrooksbaseball) March 8, 2016
Former president Paul Beeston was a big proponent of allowing fans to stream the Jays within Canada, striking a separate deal with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, an entity he helped to found in his tenure as president of Major League Baseball. Beeston recognized the importance of digital streaming to building a younger fanbase.
However, if you read the fine print terms and conditions, you would've noticed that MLB.TV had always noted that it blacks out live streaming in certain local television markets. In the Blue Jays' case, all of Canada is considered to be their local television area, so by the letter of the policy, all their home and away games should be blacked out in this country. However, MLB.TV had not been enforcing the blackout policy as Canadian fans have been able to stream Jays games using that service since it stopped being exclusively available through Rogers on Demand.
Sportsnet, who conveniently shares the same owners as the Blue Jays, owns the television broadcasting rights to team so one would assume that they also have a lot of say in whether the games get blacked out or not.
So, would MLB.tv subscribers be able to stream Blue Jays games in Canada? As Brooks stated, it is confusing but I am betting with my money (specifically $109.99 USD) that the answer is "yes", but like all the years previous, there is a risk that the policy could be enforced.
This piece was edited for clarity. A previous version may have been interpreted that Brooks had implied that a change to the policy may have occurred.