TV blackouts of major pro sports leave Hawaii consumers at a loss

·2 min read

May 16—It's still a buyer beware world when it comes to live sports telecast blackouts.

Some Hawaii cable viewers have been frustrated this season when blackouts have prevented them from viewing national telecasts of live games on ESPN and TNT.

For instance, in the past week, the Lakers vs. Blazers game (May 7 on ESPN ), the Clippers vs. Knicks (Sunday on ESPN ) and the Lakers vs. Knicks (Tuesday on TNT ) were blacked out in Hawaii.

The reason is because the regional broadcast rights holders for the Los Angeles NBA teams have territorial rights in Hawaii (so do those for the Sacramento Kings ). So, to watch those games in Hawaii the viewer would have to subscribe to a package that includes the regional broadcasts.

For Lakers games, that means Spectrum SportsNet.

Major League Baseball fans of all five California teams—the Angels, Athletics, Giants, Dodgers and Padres—have a similar situation, as Hawaii is considered blackout territory for them.

The way some Hawaii customers see it is that they are paying for a service that includes ESPN and TNT and they should be allowed to watch all of those networks' programming.

That holds true for David Loui, even though he does subscribe to Spectrum SportsNet. His package includes ESPN and TNT, but when they show Lakers games he is limited to the regional telecast.

"I'd like to get the perspective of the national analysts, like Jeff Van Gundy on ESPN and Reggie Miller on TNT, " Loui said. "I pay for Spectrum SportsNet, so I can watch the Lakers. Because of that, I get penalized from watching the TNT and, recently, ESPN broadcasts. It's not right, but they have people like me over a barrel."

For NBA fans who don't subscribe to services for specific teams their frustration is compounded when games are blacked out and there are no other games in that time slot to watch. (This is especially true when compared to the NFL ; when it has blackouts it usually shows another game.)

Representatives from Hawaii cable providers Spectrum and Hawaiian Telcom said they have no control over blackouts. They are regulated by the NBA and negotiations between the franchises and networks, people close to the situation said.

"Blackouts are implemented to protect the primary rights holder, as defined by the professional and college sports leagues or teams in a given market, " Ann Nishida of Hawaiian Telcom said. "If you are receiving blackout messaging on ESPN, check your local listings to find the television network carrying the event."

Representatives from Spectrum and ESPN did not want to be quoted.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting