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Cable and Dish Given till end of Month to Match Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 08 March 2007 09:04

Extra InningsAn update from the press conference...

As reported, the deal is 7-years, and $700 million by DirecTV, but there's a twist.

MLB has given cable (InDemand) and EchoStar (DISH Network) till the end of the month to match the offer to place the upcoming 24-hour baseball-only channel on the basic tier. If the sides agree to placing the The MLB Channel on the basic tier, the exclusivity of the DirecTV deal will be removed.

So it's not an exclusive deal...yet. It appears as if MLB possibly caved to fan and government pressure by ensuring that the other operators could carry it at the same terms, if they so decide. By doing so, MLB would be viewed as giving the competing carriers the option, and if they back out of placing the channel on the basic tier, MLB can place that decision at the carrier's feet, as opposed to making the move exclusively to DirecTV unilateral.

A statement from Senator Kerry will be forthcoming. 

Below is the press release from DirecTV

Read more...
 
DirecTV Deal Announced TODAY at 4:15pm EST Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 08 March 2007 06:54

Extra InningsThe deal to make Extra Innings exclusively available on DirecTV will be announced today. Below is the press release on the matter:

Major League Baseball and DIRECTV will make a major joint announcement on a 4:15 P.M. (EST) conference call this afternoon. Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Major League Baseball President & Chief Operating Officer Bob DuPuy, MLB Executive Vice President for Business Tim Brosnan and DIRECTV President & Chief Executive Officer Chase Carey will be among the representatives who will be available on the call. 

 
Selig: Controversy over DirecTV Deal "Ridiculous" Print
Written by The Staff   
Monday, 05 March 2007 04:25
SeligSpeaking to reporters before Saturday's Cubs-A's game, Commissioner Selig was asked about the controversy surrounding the pending deal to make Extra Innings exclusively available on DirecTV. Selig’s response was that it was "ridiculous". As reported by the Chicago Tribune:

"I've heard for years we have too much product out there," Selig said.

"Everywhere I've gone . . . there's no market that has less than 350 to 400 [televised] games, and some [like Chicago] have quite a bit more than that. We have an enormous amount of product out there.

"As for this deal, what fascinates me is I have spent a lot of time going over it and trying to find out who can't get [DirecTV].

"We're down now to such small numbers, that I'm really wondering [about the fuss].

Selig then went on to say that "… In a year or two, when people understand the significance of this deal . . . everybody will understand it."

 
DirecTV Pres. Acknowledges Deal for Extra Innings Print
Written by The Staff   
Friday, 02 March 2007 14:00

DirecTVIn a seven-page letter from DirectTV president Chase Carey to the FCC, Chase acknowledged that the satcaster and MLB have reached an agreement to make Extra Innings only available on DirecTV, saying "DirecTV's agreement".  However, a company spokesman for DirecTV later stated that Carey's response was incorrect.

"The letter should have said proposed agreement. There is no agreement as yet," spokesman Robert Mercer said later.

As reported by Ronald Blum of the AP:

Carey said in his letter that an estimated 5,000 subscribers to the Extra Innings package would not have access to DirecTV, and he said there were 230,000 subscribers to the package last year outside of DirecTV. He also said DirecTV would make The Baseball Channel available when the network launches in 2009.

"Congress did not prohibit all exclusive arrangements," Carey wrote. "It only restricted exclusive arrangements that were the product of market power abuses -- those between dominant cable operators and cable-owned programmers."

Adding to the story, Richard Sandomir of the NY Times reports:

Robert Jacobsen, the president of In Demand, which is owned by Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Advance/Newhouse, said in a statement that cable operators had offered M.L.B. a “nonexclusive deal” with “better overall terms than the DirecTV offer,” which would have permitted Extra Innings to be available to at least as many cable and satellite subscribers as it is now.

“It’s hard to believe that M.L.B. would have so little respect for its fans,” Jacobsen said. A cable industry executive who was not authorized to speak publicly said that In Demand had matched DirecTV’s financial offer and that it would make the Baseball Channel, which is to start in 2009, available to slightly more than the 15 million subscribers promised by DirecTV.

Baseball hopes to announce the deal next week, but yesterday its lead negotiator, Tim Brosnan, an executive vice president, declined to comment.

 
EchoStar Takes Aim at Extra Innings / DirecTV Deal Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 01 March 2007 10:53

DISH NetworkEchoStar Communications Corporation, who provides satellite television service through DISH Network, today fired salvos at MLB’s proposed deal to make Extra Innings exclusive on DirecTV, a deal that many expect to still occur next week.

As reported by John Ourand and Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal, on Sports Business Daily, EchoStar President & Vice Chair Carl Vogel took shots at the proposed deal:

"We bid, but our bid included sub-distribution rights. We think this is anti-consumer when exclusives are cut after broad distribution on multiple platforms."

He added, "If a customer on any platform has enjoyed that product, it shouldn't be taken away from them. We like a world where content is available to as many sources as possible." Vogel said DirecTV's exclusive hold on the "NFL Sunday Ticket" package is not comparable since it never has appeared on any other system.

 
Could Exclusive Deal For Extra Innings & DirecTV Be Dead? Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 27 February 2007 06:38

Extra InningsCould the deal between MLB and DirecTV to make Extra Innings exclusively available be falling apart? Chris Isidore of CNN/Money hints that that may be the case: As reported:

One source familiar with negotiations said he now believes that the Extra Innings package will remain available to all three services.

"I'd be surprised if the DirecTV deal goes through," he said.

As Isidore correctly reports, this isn’t about gaining more rights fees, but rather how The Baseball Channel is placed in the programming tiers.

Isidore further reports:

"There will be a commitment to carry the Baseball Network (on cable)," said the industry official. "Where it will be placed, that still needs to be sorted out."

Another source with the league said he was not aware of any shift away from plans to go with an exclusive deal for DirecTV. But talks have lingered for months without an official announcement even as baseball's opening day draws near.

A non-exclusive deal would not only reduce the risk of any interference from Washington. It will also allow baseball to not anger more than 200,000 of its most loyal customers who would have to shift television services to keep following their teams.

Stay tuned. As we reported last week, MLB was reportedly on the verge of announcing the deal when John Kerry and the FCC jumped into the fray. One wonders if the deal gets scuttled due to external forces (fan discontent, pressure from members of Congress and the FCC), as well as internal grumblings (several markets will be impacted by the deal).

 
McLane: "Baseball is being held to a different standard." Print
Written by The Staff   
Monday, 26 February 2007 01:42

Drayton McLaneWhile fans and some clubs are expressing concerns about the deal to make Extra Innings exclusively available on DirecTV, at least one owner feels that MLB is getting unduly scrutinized for the proposed deal. As the Houston Chronicle reports:

More than 4,900 have signed a petition at www.petitiononline.com in opposition to the seven-year, $700 million deal with DirecTV (sample opinion: "This is more monopoly than Parker Brothers"), and even some MLB club executives have expressed concern about the proposal.

But not Astros owner Drayton McLane, who instead expressed concern Friday about "our good senator (Kerry), who wants to get an investigation. The NFL has done this with (DirecTV) and the NBA has done it, and all of a sudden baseball is the bad guy. ... Baseball is being held to a different standard."

Recall that in the instances mentioned, deals of exclusivity were done at the outset. MLB's deal places exclusivity around the deal after being made available on cable through InDemand, and on EchoStar's DishNetwork.

 
Questions of Exclusivity Surround DirecTV Deal Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 23 February 2007 13:31

Extra InningsAfter traveling to Indianapolis for the Sports Management Worldwide Conference today, The Biz of Baseball is back on track with the following news...

The news of a pending announcement of MLB coming to an agreement with DirecTV to show Extra Innings exclusively was supposed to be announced today. Then word arrived late yesterday that the FCC has shown a keen interest in whether customers will have access to the MLB package for out-of-market games.

Friday, Richard Sandomir of the NY Times shed some more light on the deal, and why it had yet to be announced. As touched on yesterday, there is word that MLB may be willing to relax the window of exclusivity on DirecTV, from 7 years to 3 years, to coincide with the launch of MLB's proposed 24-hour baseball-only channel. That may not be the case, or at least at the time of inking the deal. As reported on the NY Times:

Letting the exclusivity lapse after the 2009 season might have eased a bit of the outrage. And, potentially, it might have softened the guaranteed fulminations on Capitol Hill when baseball and DirecTV officials testify sometime soon before the Senate Commerce Committee.

But according to executives familiar with the agreement who were not authorized to speak about it, the exclusivity will not be relaxed, at least not when the deal is announced. If it is eventually eased, DirecTV would surely reduce its payments; a savvy strategy if it believes it has converted a significant number of new customers and reached a ceiling of Extra Innings buyers.

As to how cable and InDemand, the service that provides Extra Innings on cable, and EchoStar, DishNetwork's parent company are reacting, Sandomir further reports:

EchoStar, Dish’s parent, issued a tart statement Wednesday that railed against exclusive sports deals and called the proposed DirecTV-M.L.B. agreement a “dangerous step backward to an anti-competitive world.”

Three EchoStar publicists declined comment on whether Dish sought its own exclusive deal. A DirecTV spokesman said: “We view this as sour grapes coming from EchoStar and ironic considering that it too had opportunities and negotiations to secure the optimal deal for its own business interests.”

As mentioned within the article, the deal must be approved by the owners before fully implementing the deal. Many markets will be in a lurch due to agreements with cable operators such as Time Warner and Comcast. The Mets, White Sox, Padres and Phillies are cited as examples as clubs that would be impacted by the agreement.

As noted, MLB should have been able to ink this deal some time ago. Whether the FCC's sudden interest is part of the equation, or ownership discontent has any bearing on why the deal was not announced today, none of the principles in the deal would speak on record.

 

 
FCC Investigating Extra Innings / DirecTV Deal Print
Written by The Staff   
Thursday, 22 February 2007 14:00

DirecTVWith the pending announcement of the deal to make Extra Innings exclusively available only on DirecTV as soon as tomorrow, word comes late this evening that the FCC is investigating the proposed deal through a statement released by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).

The promise for the investigation came from FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, in a letter to Kerry that was received today.

The letter (see a scan of the complete letter here – PDF) reads in part:

"I share your concerns regarding this proposed deal."

"I am concerned whenever consumers cannot purchase the programming they want or are forced to purchase programming they don't want," Martin wrote.

The letter then goes on to read:

“As you requested, we have contacted the parties and requested additional information about their proposed agreement. Once we have this information, we will report to you on the deal’s implications for consumers and any recommended changes to the law to ameliorate and harms to consumers.”

“This is great news and I appreciate the quick response from Chairman Martin," Kerry said today. "It's good to know that he also has concerns about a deal that has the potential to deny choice to so many consumers - all apparently in the interest of a short-term profit for Major League Baseball. I look forward to hearing a full response from the league and from DirectTV, and I remain open to working with them and other colleagues on any and all plans that further options for consumers and make it easier for all of us to enjoy our national pastime."

 
DirecTV / Extra Innings Deal: "Within 24 Hours" Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 22 February 2007 09:08

MLB Extra InningsThe deal to place Extra Innings exclusively on DirecTV could be signed as early as today, with an announcement arriving "within 24 hours," according to John Ourand & Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal. MLB executives, however, say no announcement is planned for either today or tomorrow.

A new wrinkle in the deal may be the length of exclusivity on the satcaster. As reported by Ourand and Fisher on today’s Closing Bell of the Sports Business Daily:

[I]ndustry sources said DirecTV's exclusive hold on the package will only last the first three of the seven years of the deal, potentially opening up an opportunity for other carriers to get Extra Innings starting in the 2010 season…. could ease angry fan sentiment surrounding the DirecTV-MLB marriage.

As further mentioned, the move to shorten the window would coincide with MLB’s planned launch of a 24-hour baseball-only channel slated to launch in 2009. “The belief is that MLB would be able to get cable distribution for its channel if it also offers cable operators Extra Innings.”

 
Extra Innings / DirecTV Deal As Early as Next Week Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 16 February 2007 06:39

DirecTVThe announcement of the deal to make MLB Extra Innings available only on DirecTV may be announced as early as next week, as a last-ditch effort by the cable industry to match DirecTV's offer has been rebuffed.

As reported by Eric Fisher and John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal on today's Sports Business Daily:

Sources familiar with the negotiations said cable reps went back to MLB about a week ago and offered to match the financials of DirecTV’s bid but without the requirement of exclusivity. The cable lobby also agreed to guarantee the same amount of distribution for MLB’s planned channel, which is scheduled to launch as soon as ’09.

As Fisher and Ourland outline, however, the counter-bid did not address a key want by MLB in terms of the 24-hour baseball-only channel; the ability to place the channel on the basic tier. The Basic tier is available to all subscribers. As reported, "As a result, the most recent talks with cable officials failed to gain any significant traction, industry sources said."

The deal has not come without at least some internal acrimony.  Padres President Sandy Alderson told the North County (CA) Times, “This deal is particularly unfortunate in San Diego. If you have satellite TV, you can’t get the Padres. Now, if you have cable, you can’t get the MLB package. And if you want both, it means adding one or the other, and it would cost quite a bit of money.”

Cox Communications offers its Channel 4 San Diego, with exclusive rights to Padres games, only to cable operators.

Statements made in advance of the pending deal by MLB vice-president Tim Brosnan went on to say, "Any deal for the Major League Baseball's Extra Innings subscription package, when concluded, will in no way affect a single fan's ability to watch games of his home club in his home market."

OTHER EXTRA INNINGS ONLY ON DIRECTV ARTICLES ON BIZ OF BASEBALL (from oldest to newest)

 
Brosnan on Extra Innings: All Home Market Games Available Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 16 February 2007 05:11

MLB Extra InningsTim Brosnan, MLB's executive vice-president of business, is providing statements on the proposed plan to make Extra Innings exclusively available on DirecTV only on USA Today . The statements can be responded to by comments, to those registered on USA Today.

Brosnan has the following to say about the proposed deal:

We offer the following assurances to our fans: Any deal for the Major League Baseball's Extra Innings subscription package, when concluded, will in no way affect a single fan's ability to watch games of his home club in his home market. Major League Baseball will continue to make available on basic cable, satellite and broadcast television more games by far than any other sport (on average, more than 400 games per year are telecast in each market); a subscription package of out-of-market games will continue to be available to a broad segment of our fan base through either MLB Extra Innings or MLB.TV, its broadband counterpart.

MLB has consistently sought to do the best job possible of marketing the game to our fans. Through the ballpark experience, TV, radio, satellite radio, broadband and the Internet, wireless, licensed products and sponsor marketing initiatives, we look to meet the demands of our fans in as many ways as possible for one simple reason: It's good business. We always act according to our belief that if we do what we think is in the fans' best interests, our business will benefit. And, guided by that principle, we have achieved record success in the past five years.

We have had fair and open negotiations with cable, satellite and telephone company distributors regarding the distribution of a new MLB dedicated channel to all our fans and the continuation of the MLB Extra Innings package. We believe that the launch of an MLB-dedicated channel as part of a basic service will be a great benefit to all of our fans, as it will provide a wide diversity of baseball programming, 24/7. Our goal remains to provide as much MLB programming as we can to the maximum number of viewers, and any consummated deal will reflect that.

OTHER EXTRA INNINGS ONLY ON DIRECTV ARTICLES ON BIZ OF BASEBALL (from oldest to newest)

 
Selig on Extra Innings, DirecTV: "Few people are affected" Print
Written by The Staff   
Thursday, 15 February 2007 10:35

SeligCommissioner Selig was on ESPN's Mike and Mike show this morning where the topic of MLB's proposed deal to make Extra Innings only available on DirecTV was discussed. Selig said, “We haven’t made a deal yet. … I’ve heard a lot of things that quite frankly aren’t true.” He then added that he expected, “people will understand that we thought all these issues out.”

“There’s no doubt in my mind that you will be quite surprised at how few people are affected,” Selig added. 

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On BP: A Deeper Look at the Extra Innings / DirecTV Deal Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 12 February 2007 07:18

Maury BrownIn tracking the upcoming MLB Extra Innings to DirecTV exclusive deal, it seems that the emotions of many of baseball’s most ardent fans has been the key focus. Today, on Baseball Prospectus, I touch on the matter of how baseball’s most loyal fans will be some of those that will be impacted the most by the deal, but work to try and peel back some of the layers to the deal to outline why MLB might be going this route given the backlash, why some of it makes sense, and why, in the end, it’s a poor decision based on other factors beyond the exclusionary nature of the deal.

The article entitled, A Deeper Look at the Exclusive Extra Innings to DirecTV Deal, breaks down the deal into the following: 

  • The tipping point in the deal centers around the 24-hour baseball-only channel slated to launch in 2009, which ties into MLB’s overarching and control of content—a valuable asset.
  • The exclusionary nature of the MLB deal is different from the deal that the NFL has for Sunday Ticket due to Sunday Ticket always being exclusively on DirecTV, without supplying it to cable and EchoStar carriers.
  • I touch on Ben Silverman’s article on Yahoo Finance (Making Noise: Batter Up! Is Major League Baseball Prepping for an Interactive IPO?) in which Ben writes that a possible strategy for MLB that ties with The Baseball Channel is MLB’s ability to go IPO with MLBAM, something that was looked at in late 2005.  I talk about how this action would seem best suited to when revenues fall flat or drop for MLB.
  • A key aspect of the article touches on how a decline in housing starts impacts the overall growth of the PayTV industry as a whole, and therefore impacts growth potential in the long run, beyond the lowering of consumer visibility that going exclusive with Extra Innings on DirecTV will do.
  • There are upsides to the deal, as I touch on the ability to get the 24-hour baseball only channel on the basic tier on DirecTV, more HD programming, reduced rates for those that purchase MLB.TV and Extra Innings together, as well as better streaming rates for MLB.TV going forward this year.

The final thoughts revolve around these points, as well as how baseball’s most passionate fans are impacted the most. Once again, view the article on Baseball Prospectus here.

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Maury Brown is the founder of The Biz of Baseball and an author for Baseball Prospectus. He can be contacted here.

 
More MLB Extra Innings and DirecTV deal Print
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Written by The Staff   
Wednesday, 07 February 2007 16:49

MLB Extra InningsWhile there isn't anything particularly earth-shattering in the article, the fact that USA Today currently has the proposed situation of Extra Innings going exclusively to DirecTV as the main baseball story shows that more visibility is arriving on the issue. As reported on USA Today:

Extra Innings offers up to 60 out-of-market regular-season games a week for $179 a season. It is particularly popular with transplants who can follow their favorite teams from anywhere in the country. Households with digital cable or satellite TV have been able to get Extra Innings. There are 63 million homes with digital cable or satellite TV, says Brian Dietz, spokesman for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. DirecTV now has 15.6 million homes.

The MLB-DirecTV deal is expected to include the rollout of a 24-hour baseball channel in 2009 that, combined with network and cable telecasts, could offer viewers more baseball viewing options than ever. MLB and DirecTV declined to comment on the impending deal. Past Extra Innings customers who don't have, can't get or won't get DirecTV are crying foul.

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Don't Look for Extra Innings/DirecTV Deal This Week Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 06 February 2007 06:39

Extra InningsDon't look for an announcement this week from MLB regarding placing MLB Extra Innings exclusively on DirecTV this week.

While John Kerry made some rumblings in statements to the FCC last week regarding the proposed plan to put Extra Innings exclusively on satcaster, the real reason for the delay in the announcement may be more benign: several of the MLB brass are not in New York this week, which would impact the ability to hold a press conference, should that be the preferred route by MLB.

Some news of interest...

  • As we reported last night, Extra Innings will be made available in Canada on cable, regardless of whether the DirecTV deal takes place or not. This makes sense as DirecTV is not available in Canada, and would therefore blackout the entire country for out-of-market games.
  • One aspect of the deal that has not been reported much involves DirecTV's intention to expand HDTV programming in the second half of the year. With that, the satcaster has been looking for programming to fill that need, and Extra Innings provides that.

As mentioned, don't look for the deal to be announced this week. As for next week...

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Canadians to Get MLB Extra Innings on Cable Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 05 February 2007 15:05

DirecTVIf MLB does go forward with its plans to place MLB Extra Innings only on DirecTV, at least those living in Canada will be able to continue to get the package on cable this coming season.

DirecTV is not available in Canada, and with the pending move to place Extra Innings only on the satellite network, it was possible that the entire country would not have been able to view any out-of-market games with the pending deal going forward.

Word via email from Rogers Communication today shows that for at least now, folks in Canada will be able to order Extra Innings via cable:

We are happy to tell you that we will be carrying MLB Extra Innings for this 2007 season and there are two ways that you are able to view this.  You can either purchase it for $159.99 as a one time charge for the  whole season or you can get the Rogers Super Sports Pack for $26.95 per  month and also NFL Sunday Ticket, OHL Action Pack, NHL Centre Ice, NCAA  Pack, NASCAR In-Car and NBA League Pass.

Expect more news on the proposed deal to make MLB Extra Innings exclusively on DirecTV in the next week.

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Hearing Testimony Hits on MLB, DirecTV Deal Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 01 February 2007 10:40

Extra InningsAs noted yesterday, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) voiced concerns about the proposed deal to make MLB Extra Innings only available on DirecTV and said he would address it during a hearing today by the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

That hearing, entitled Assessing the Communications Marketplace: A View from the FCC took place, with the following comments regarding the proposed MLB Extra Innings deal with DirecTV in John Kerry's opening statements:

I am concerned about access to television programming.  I find disheartening the increasing phenomenon of exclusive carriage deals and vertical integration in the media industry that have one result – the business firms get wealthy and consumers have fewer choices – and fewer sports fans having access to their favorite teams. 

I understand Major League Baseball will soon cut an exclusive deal with DirecTV that will eliminate out-of-market baseball packages for Dish and Cable subscribers.  I hope I am wrong, because this is audacious move.  It will mean that out-of-market baseball fans that pay for a premium package to see their team will lose access to those games. 
 
That is wrong.  Major League Baseball and DirecTV need a reality check – more eyeballs, not fewer, on your games enhances your sport, strengthens fan loyalty and serves the public.  I am interested in the Chairman’s views about this.  I want to look at this entire picture – there are other practices in the industry that are equally disturbing.  We need to take a look at the carriage system to ensure consumers are protected and independent programming is supported. 
Watch the hearing in entirety here (Real Media format)
 
John Kerry Enters the Fray on Pending DirecTV/EI Deal Print
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Written by The Staff   
Wednesday, 31 January 2007 09:33

John KerrySenator John Kerry (D-MA) has entered the fray on the proposed deal that would make MLB Extra Innings exclusively available on DirecTV. In a statement issued by Kerry he said he "intends to seek answers from the FCC."

A hearing in the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee takes place tomorrow to address the issue.

Kerry added, "I'd like to know how this serves the public - a deal which will force fans to subscribe to DirecTV in order to tune in to their favorite players. A Red Sox fan ought to be able to watch their team without having to switch to DirecTV."

If you have an opinion on the DirecTV deal, make sure and register in the Biz of Baseball forums and comment within this thread.

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DirecTV Deal Tied to New 24-Hour MLB Channel Print
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 29 January 2007 02:49

DirecTVSome more details are emerging this AM via Eric Fisher, John Ourand and the Sports Business Journal and MLB’s effort to make Extra Innings available exclusively through DirecTV. If you do not have a subscription to the Sports Business Journal, I highly recommend it.

Here are some more details on the deal, as it is now known.

  • MLB and DirecTV are in the final stages of negotiating the $700 million deal, and that a formal announcement will occur within the next 2 weeks.
  • Extra Innings as an exclusive on DirecTV would begin this year.
  • The MLB channel slated to air in 2009 and provisionally titled in the past as The Baseball Channel, will be provided on the basic tier of DirecTV
  • As reported by the SBJ, “Programming will include some regular-season games, in particular some nonexclusive Saturday night contests that were not sold last year in the national broadcast deals with Fox and Turner.”
  • Some Arizona Fall League, spring training and minor league games will be shown on the channel, as well.
  • Extra Innings would be co-marketed with MLBAM’s online out-of-market product, MLB.TV.
  • In related news, MLB.TV will see an increase in the quality of the feeds this season. As reported, “Game video will be streamed at a rate of 700 Kbps instead of the 350 Kbps to 400 Kbps rate of last year.”

As to how the press—both mainstream and alternative—have slammed the deal due to the restrictions on consumers, one executive is quoted as saying:

“There will be some people unhappy at the outset, but this is exactly what the NFL, the alleged market leader, and the NCAA have already done,” said an MLB executive, referring to their DirecTV-only deals for out-of-market game packages. “This is a chance to reinvigorate the product and, with the channel, get to some underserved areas of the sport.”

Apparently, the deal hinged on DirecTV's willingness to place Major League Baseball’s long-planned 24-hour TV network on an expanded basic tier, which InDemand was unwilling to do. Since MLB has been working toward a 24-hour baseball-only channel since 2004, this appears to be the tipping point in relationship to fan backlash due to removing Extra Innings from cable and the Dish Network.

(source: Sports Business Journal – Eric Fisher and John Ourand - DirecTV talks hinge on MLB net)

If you have an opinion on the DirecTV deal, make sure and register in the Biz of Baseball forums and comment within this thread.

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