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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?

Comments (11)

I switched to direct TV las... (Below threshold)

I switched to direct TV last summer, kept my cable modem; it is truly the best thing I ever did. I pay less for TV and have more choices. Besides, direct TV also runs XM satelite radio channels for music lovers.

You haven't watched football until you get Sunday Ticket Super Fan. Fantasy footballers dream.

Cable TV Sux.

Little Boy: Grandpa, how di... (Below threshold)

Little Boy: Grandpa, how did the big war start?

Grandpa: Well, a ball bearing the size of a marble from a Chinese ASAT test knocked out America's access to baseball games on TV. We attacked them twenty minutes later.

Hmm, baseball games are cal... (Below threshold)

Hmm, baseball games are called due to weather.

Clouds in the sky tend to cause problems with satellite reception.

Yeah, the move makes sense.

I'll stick with my cable TV. At least my HD converter isn't several hundred dollars.

I used to be an avid baseba... (Below threshold)

I used to be an avid baseball fan. Cable TV exposed me to the Cubs on WGN and the Braves on WTBS. I always had a game on. For me, MLB on cable was affordable.

But after the 1994 strike, I swore off baseball. I have not worn a Braves or Rangers cap since. My only reason to watch baseball now is to hate the Yankees. But I will not get DirectTV just to hate the Yankess.

MLB taking the big money and moving away from Cable is just another example of how little they think of the fans. Good riddens as far as I am concerned.

I smell another NHL-Sportsc... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

I smell another NHL-Sportschannel deal here.

Complain:The Offic... (Below threshold)


The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10167
Phone: (212) 931-7800

and your cable company.

....but can you really f... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

....but can you really fault MLB for taking 10 times the money that InDemand was offering?

Nope, can't say I blame them at all. My wishful thinking though is that some of that revenue would go toward smaller market teams like the Twins, Royals, Reds, etc. to help them compete against the likes of the Yanks, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, etc. in the free agent market. Won't happen, but it's a nice-to-have-happen. Considering each of the 30 teams is "only" receiving roughly $3.3mil each year from the contract, it really won't help any team one way or the other.

This deal pales in comparison to the DirecTV/NFL deal which pays the $700mil annually. No wonder the NFL is the most financially sound league among the major sports. (That, and a salary cap help. Hear that, Bud Selig?)

Thank God they can't take away ESPN's Baseball Tonight or I'd shoot myself.

Spring training is just 3 weeks away, kids. :-)

Actually, I CAN fault them ... (Below threshold)

Actually, I CAN fault them as they are having problems enough generating new fans. Nothing like alienating them further.

My wishful thinking thou... (Below threshold)

My wishful thinking though is that some of that revenue would go toward smaller market teams like the Twins, Royals, Reds, etc. to help them compete against the likes of the Yanks, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers...

1. The Twins have won their division 4 out of the last 5 years despite being in the same division as a team from Chicago.

2. Last Year's World Series featured teams from the 15th and 23rd ranked Media Markets with MLB teams.

The problem isn't that the Yankes & Red Sox are spending the money they earn. The problem is that the Royals and Pirates aren't spending the money they earn.

It seems to me that MLB is ... (Below threshold)
Craig Schmidt:

It seems to me that MLB is taking the short term fee increase from DirectTV versus sacrificing their fans. (Keep in mind DirectTV will only pay the higher fee if they can use it to force consumers onto their system).

My reasoning is this. Extra Innings Cable service allows me to stay in contact with my home team. This contract results in me paying a visit to home town and seeing three to four games a year. Without this contact my interest in the home team wanes and the visit cease.

These four games generally result in revenue of about $500 or higher (four seats for the four games, plus beverage, food and gifts).

Subscriptions to Extra Innings are about 750,000. One-fifth are tied to DirectTV. This leaves 600,000 irritated fans.

Assume half of the those fans cancel the four games. $500*300,000 fans = $150 million rev.

Difference between DirectTV fees less Cable Fees
$700,000,000 less $70,000,000 = $630 milllion in fees. Divided by seven years = $90 million.

Ultimately I gotta believe at some point you value your fans and allow the business to grow organically. Or you can go the MLB route, take the short money and constantly screw the fans. If baseball wants to the family game, they should take a more productive view of their consumers.

This could possibly be the ... (Below threshold)
Chris Wojo:

This could possibly be the worst thing the MLB could ever do. Why piss off all of these fans by doing this? I was really looking forward to this season, but if this happens... I might as well become a NASCAR fan.






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