The Cardinals have announced that they're pulling the plug on their free TV broadcasts on channel 5, taking all their games to pay TV outlet Fox Sports Midwest.
It's sad in a way because the club is certainly going to alienate some fans who don't pay for cable or satellite TV. But dividing the schedule between multiple outlets can be confusing for the fans. And it has seemed to create more than a little bit of irritation in that I hear pretty regular complaints from fans who simply don't care for channel 5 play by play man Jay Randolph's broadcasting style.
Ironically, I don't think it's cable that killed off the free television broadcasts. I think it's the internet.
I have several friends who either don't live in the St. Louis area these days or else they don't have cable television. Instead, they watch the games over their computer on mlb.com. They pay a fee at the beginning of the season, and then they not only don't have to fiddle with the split TV schedule, they can watch all of the other games, too.
The cable and dish companies are wise to push for all the games on their networks. There are very few things on television anymore that I consider to be can't miss fare. And a very prominent one of those things is Cardinals baseball. If all of the Redbirds games were on free TV, I'd probably pull the plug on my dish, especially now that you can get high quality, high definition signals over the airwaves.