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I wasn't able to watch the game last night because of family events.  Even if I were home I still wouldn't have been able to legally watch the game even though I paid nearly $100 to watch the NBA's on-line service.  You see, League Pass Broadband had the festivities blocked out.   I live a mile from Papa Glen's house and the game wasn't even available on the radio (MSU hockey gets the nod).  I could have watched the game on an illegal European stream but that would be bad, right? 

I encourage everyone to read this article about sports TV rights deals as well as click below the fold to read an interesting on-line chat I had with League Pass customer service.   The Wolves may have finally gotten rid of Don Overbeck but the NBA still doesn't want paying customers to watch its product.  Here's a little sample of my give-and-take:

10:24:31 AgentMerlin
Well I do have one little suggestion. Now it would be hit or miss but it may help.
10:24:36 Customernatearch
yet the only way i can watch 1/2 the games is to break the law and get a stream like justin.tv
10:25:04 AgentMerlin
What you might want to do is contact your isp and see if you can either get your ip address changed or see if you can get your ip address out of a different location.
10:25:22 Customernatearch
where do i need it changed to?
10:25:29 AgentMerlin
If you did that, it might and I do mean might make a little difference between how many of the timberwolves games you would be blacked out of.
10:25:41 Customernatearch
so i'd be lying
10:26:02 Customernatearch
which would be pretty much the same as me watching live streams from europe
10:26:04 Customernatearch
for free
10:26:39 AgentMerlin
You will have to understand that a lot of the blackouts are based upon people's ip addresses.
10:26:51 Customernatearch
yes....but i still live in mankato
10:27:08 Customernatearch
you're asking me to lie about where i live to see something i paid for
10:27:24 Customernatearch
i literally live 1/2 a mile from glen taylor's house
10:27:24 AgentMerlin
No that is not what I'm asking.
10:27:42 Customernatearch
well, then what is it?
10:27:58 Customernatearch
change my ip to a euro address and watch the games i paid for?
10:28:01 AgentMerlin
See here's an example, a person can live one place, yet their ip address could be based out of a different area entirely.
10:28:14 Customernatearch
so it has nothing to do with where i live
10:28:44 AgentMerlin
I don't think that it would be possible I'm just merely trying to give you a suggestion that might help you. But as I said, if the NBA itself says its gonna be blacked out then its gonna be blacked out.
10:29:09 AgentMerlin
Your Ip address is the main thing that blackouts are based on.
10:29:15 Customernatearch
ok, say i do want to lie about my location for the sake of watching something i already paid for. i just have to call up my isp and say i want my ip changed
10:29:36 Customernatearch
how far does my fake ip address have to be from the target center for this to work?
10:30:49 AgentMerlin
No no, see first of all there can only be on ip address, and second it may not just be the ip address that is blacking you out.
10:31:04 Customernatearch
maybe if i move to omaha...would that help?

The complete chat is below the fold.  I'll have a digital rights Write Your Congressman letter available in a later post. 
Initial Question/Comment: League pass is blacked out for 1/2 of the Wolves games where I live.
10:13:33 SystemSystem
10:13:33 SystemSystem
Thank you for contacting NBA.com League Pass customer service
10:13:43 SystemSystem
Merlin has joined this session!
10:13:43 SystemSystem
Connected with Merlin
10:13:48 AgentMerlin
Thank you for contacting NBA.com my name is Merlin, how may I help you today?
10:14:14 Customernatearch
i live in rural minnesota and i am out of range of the wolves' local broadcast network
10:14:24 Customernatearch
i bought league pass yet 1/2 the games are blocked out
10:14:52 Customernatearch
i don't have cable because it's too expensive and i bought league pass to watch the games that are not on local tv here in mankato, home of the wolves' owner glen taylor
10:15:10 Customernatearch
most of their games aren't on radio either
10:15:29 Customernatearch
last year i contacted the nba and they gave me a pass that allowed league pass to show all the games
10:16:05 Customernatearch
i write a blog called www.canishoopus.com. we cover all the wolves games and I would like to be able to actually watch the games I thought I paid for
10:16:39 Customernatearch
is there any way to get my league pass broadband set up in a way where I can actually watch all the games?
10:16:48 AgentMerlin
I can understand how that can be frustrating. There are some factors that could explain why you would be blacked out from half the timberwolves games.
10:17:28 AgentMerlin
One factor could be that you are part of the timberwolves market and thus you would be blacked out.
10:17:47 Customernatearch
i actually am not interested in why. I just want to watch the games. can I or can I not get my league pass adjusted to allow for me to watch these games like I was able to do so last year?
10:18:20 AgentMerlin
Another factor could be that if the game is available to watch on tv, even though you do not have cable and it may not be shown on the local stations, cable companies such as directv or comcast.
10:18:33 AgentMerlin
May have the rights to broadcast that game for the evening and thus you would be blacked out that way.
10:18:56 Customernatearch
again, can I get this changed? i was able to do so last year.
10:19:34 Customernatearch
i bought this service because we don't have cable and because i'm 90 miles away from the arena
10:19:40 AgentMerlin
Well the fact of the matter is, NBA itself and the FCC make the decree who gets blacked out and who dosen't so if they say you are going to be blacked out then I'm afraid there is nothing that we can do to lift that.
10:19:58 AgentMerlin
I wish that we could do that but if they say its blacked out then its going to be blacked out.
10:20:02 Customernatearch
and because the local radio affilaite would rather broadcast high school football and hockey instead of the wolves
10:20:32 AgentMerlin
There may be a way to help though but it would depend solely on your ip address.
10:20:42 Customernatearch
so how did I get it changed last year? did the nba break the law?
10:21:08 AgentMerlin
They didn't break anything as the policies and some rules regarding blackouts were changed from last year.
10:21:40 Customernatearch
here's my ip address: (blocked out)
10:21:46 AgentMerlin
I unfortunately cannot explain why the changes happened but as for now that's where it stands.
10:21:52 AgentMerlin
Well here's what I wanted to try
10:22:21 Customernatearch
so the policies have changed to make it harder for me to pay to watch a team that hardly anyone wants to watch?
10:22:39 AgentMerlin
I'm going to push you a link to click on which is called ip2location. What I'd like for you to do is tell me what the home address is that the ip address is coming from.
10:22:54 AgentMerlin
Merlin pushes page, http://www.ip2location.com/
10:23:19 Customernatearch
mankato minnesota
10:23:22 AgentMerlin
I don't think it was changed to make it harder for people to watch it online though to some customers it may seem that way.
10:23:35 Customernatearch
well, it certainly doesn't seem that way
10:23:47 Customernatearch
last year the wolves had a game where 1700 people watched
10:23:58 Customernatearch
i go to 15-20 games a year
10:24:03 Customernatearch
i pay money for league pass
10:24:18 Customernatearch
i watch the games, write about them, and encourage other people to go
10:24:31 AgentMerlin
Well I do have one little suggestion. Now it would be hit or miss but it may help.
10:24:36 Customernatearch
yet the only way i can watch 1/2 the games is to break the law and get a stream like justin.tv
10:25:04 AgentMerlin
What you might want to do is contact your isp and see if you can either get your ip address changed or see if you can get your ip address out of a different location.
10:25:22 Customernatearch
where do i need it changed to?
10:25:29 AgentMerlin
If you did that, it might and I do mean might make a little difference between how many of the timberwolves games you would be blacked out of.
10:25:41 Customernatearch
so i'd be lying
10:26:02 Customernatearch
which would be pretty much the same as me watching live streams from europe
10:26:04 Customernatearch
for free
10:26:39 AgentMerlin
You will have to understand that a lot of the blackouts are based upon people's ip addresses.
10:26:51 Customernatearch
yes....but i still live in mankato
10:27:08 Customernatearch
you're asking me to lie about where i live to see something i paid for
10:27:24 Customernatearch
i literally live 1/2 a mile from glen taylor's house
10:27:24 AgentMerlin
No that is not what I'm asking.
10:27:42 Customernatearch
well, then what is it?
10:27:58 Customernatearch
change my ip to a euro address and watch the games i paid for?
10:28:01 AgentMerlin
See here's an example, a person can live one place, yet their ip address could be based out of a different area entirely.
10:28:14 Customernatearch
so it has nothing to do with where i live
10:28:44 AgentMerlin
I don't think that it would be possible I'm just merely trying to give you a suggestion that might help you. But as I said, if the NBA itself says its gonna be blacked out then its gonna be blacked out.
10:29:09 AgentMerlin
Your Ip address is the main thing that blackouts are based on.
10:29:15 Customernatearch
ok, say i do want to lie about my location for the sake of watching something i already paid for. i just have to call up my isp and say i want my ip changed
10:29:36 Customernatearch
how far does my fake ip address have to be from the target center for this to work?
10:30:49 AgentMerlin
No no, see first of all there can only be on ip address, and second it may not just be the ip address that is blacking you out.
10:31:04 Customernatearch
maybe if i move to omaha...would that help?
10:31:29 AgentMerlin
Like I mentioned earlier, if a cable company aqquires the rights to broadcast that game for the evening, you would be blacked out regardless.
10:31:45 Customernatearch
so you're telling me there is no grand code that allows for an account to watch all the games
10:32:04 AgentMerlin
There isn't any codes or inside secrets no.
10:32:05 Customernatearch
and that i'd be much better off watching the games on pirated feeds
10:32:14 AgentMerlin
If they say its going to be blacked out then its going to be blacked out.
10:32:17 Customernatearch
seeing that i've already paid to watch these games
10:32:34 AgentMerlin
Furthermore we do not endorse the idea of watching games on pirating feeds.
10:32:47 Customernatearch
but the cable companies and the nba want me to pay $100/month more to watch the other 1/2 of the games
10:32:56 Customernatearch
of a team that no one really wants to watch anyway
10:33:15 Customernatearch
that's FANtastic
10:33:29 AgentMerlin
Well that is not a fact that nobody wants to watch the games.
10:33:41 Customernatearch
really? i can tell you're not a wolves fan
10:33:52 Customernatearch
you can literally hear the hum of the building at home games
10:34:14 AgentMerlin
It's not about if we're wolves fans or not. I' m just trying to help you understand how and why these blackouts happen.
10:34:36 Customernatearch
ok, you've been more than patient. i just want to watch games on line and you're telling me that, in practice, i should have never paid for this service if i actually wanted to watch the nba's product
10:34:48 Customernatearch
if i do want to watch it, i have to take a flier and change my ip address
10:34:53 Customernatearch
even though i still live in the same spot
10:35:24 AgentMerlin
Just remember this.
10:35:27 Customernatearch
i understand how blackouts happen and how the nba wants me to pay a cable company over $100/month for services i do not want or need
10:35:54 AgentMerlin
The one defining rule is, if they say its going to be blacked out then it will be blacked out and there is nothing that we or yourself can do to change that I'm afraid.
10:36:41 Customernatearch
ok, thanks for your patience.
10:37:04 AgentMerlin
Sure, with that said, is there anything else I can help you with today.
10:37:56 Customernatearch
not unless there's some sort of master code that will allow me to watch the games i paid for but that the nba/cable companies bar me from watching...even with dwindling fan interest and attendence. i'm willing to pay for the product
10:38:05 Customernatearch
i don't like piracy
10:38:13 Customernatearch
that's why i paid for this service
10:38:40 AgentMerlin
Well there certainly isnt any master code as you like to call it that allows you to watch all the games.
10:38:41 Customernatearch
i may as well balled up my money and flushed it down the toilet
10:38:45 AgentMerlin
That's not how it works here.
10:39:00 AgentMerlin
I understand if it is frustrating.
10:39:10 AgentMerlin
But as it stands, that is how and why the blackouts are what they are.
10:39:51 Customernatearch
well, this isn't directed at you personally, but if your company understood this they would find a way to make it easier for fans to actually watch their teams....a'la carte is coming one way or the other on line and i'm no longer going to pay....
10:40:02 Customernatearch
....for a product that doesn't give me what I thought i paid for
10:40:28 Customernatearch
especially one that has only won 4 games
10:40:55 AgentMerlin
We understand and with that said, is there anything else I can help you with today.
10:41:06 Customernatearch
nope, have a good weekend
10:41:15 AgentMerlin
Once again my name is Merlin thank you for contacting NBA.com and have a wonderful day.
10:41:21 Customernatearch
thanks, you too