DirecTV Throws Baseball Fans A Curve

If you’re a big fan of MLB’s Extra Innings offerings – 60 out of market baseball games per week on a subscription basis – you’re going to have a harder time finding that package next season. According to The New York Times, just like the monopoly they’ve already got with the NFL Sunday Ticket package, DirecTV will have an exclusive next year for the MLB package.

Major League Baseball is close to announcing a deal that will place its Extra Innings package of out-of-market games exclusively on DirecTV, which will also become the only carrier of a long-planned 24-hour baseball channel.

Extra Innings has been available to 75 million cable households and the two satellite services, DirecTV and the Dish Network. But the new agreement will take it off cable and Dish because DirecTV has agreed to pay $700 million over seven years, according to three executives briefed on the details of the contract but not authorized to speak about them publicly.

InDemand, which has distributed Extra Innings to the cable television industry since 2002, made an estimated $70 million bid to renew its rights, more than triple what it has been paying. Part of its offer included the right to carry the new baseball channel, but not exclusively.

Of course the natural reaction, at least for non-DirecTV customers, is to bemoan the lack of choice, but can you really fault MLB for taking 10 times the money that InDemand was offering?

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