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What are Blackouts?

June 1st, 2011

Blackouts refer to times when sporting events are not available on a certain channel, in a certain region or from a certain broadcaster. DISH Network’s agreements with sports broadcasters require them to fulfill all blackouts.

Blackouts can be frustrating and confusing, so we’ll take some time and explain them. Often games that are blacked out on one channel are available on another.

National Blackouts

Local channels and Regional Sport Networks (RSNETs) within a team’s territory can purchase exclusive rights to a sporting event. Their viewing areas are determined by geographical location or ZIP code, and the games they purchase are not available for viewing outside of their coverage areas.

It is unlikely, but possible, that you could have a friend in the same town or even neighborhood who is able to view a nationally blacked out game that you are not. This is not something that can be fixed by going to another television provider. Everyone has to be abide by blackout restrictions. If you do not have access to the local channel or RSNET that has purchased the rights to the game, no other television provider can change that. Local channels and RSNET viewing areas are mandated by the FCC and federal law and trying to circumvent them is illegal.

Regional Blackouts

Regional blackouts tend to be a little easier to deal with as the games are available nationally. When national networks likes ESPN, FOX, TNT CBS, etc. purchase the rights to sporting events they are not available to regional channels unless they also purchase rights.

Pay-Per-View Season Ticket Blackouts

In an effort to protect the rights holder in the teams’ territories blackout restriction apply to all games offered on DISH Network Season Ticket events. TO view these sporting events you have to purchase the event.

ESPN Game Plan

The college football games available on ESPN Game Plan can be blacked out to other channels. Blackouts are determined on a per-game basis and the information on those games is available the week preceding the game.


Boxing events may be blacked out to the markets in which the event is taking place if the fight is not sold out. If the fight is sold out, a blackout will not take place.

You can use the “Where’s My Game?” tool to view blackouts and channels sporting events are on.

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