With just over 36 hours till deadline for a deal to place MLB Extra Innings exclusively on DirecTV, time is running short for the incumbents—iN Demand (cable) and EchoStar (DISH Network)—to match DirecTV’s offer. MLB has asked the two to match the terms of distribution and financial considerations.
For those that have been looking for an update as to the state of these negotiations, meetings have reportedly been taking place between officials from MLB and executives with the incumbents, but no details have been forthcoming at this time. MLB has, in the past, been known to come down to the wire in negotiations, and it is possible that this deal may be no different.
There seems little doubt that MLB will not be granting an extension in the talks. Many consumers will make a decision to jump to DirecTV by Opening Day, and thus broaching a deal with iN Demand or DISH after that point would create difficulties with DirecTV, as well as upset consumers who might have stayed with their carrier otherwise.
News is still coming out in the media about the agreement, but nothing as yet about an agreement with DISH or iN Demand. As reported today in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“In Philadelphia alone, more than 400,000 satellite subscribers are denied the ability to watch their hometown Phillies [or Flyers or 76ers] because of Comcast," testified Bob Dupuy, president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball. "That is more than twice the number of subscribers the entire iN Demand syndicate had nationally for the Extra Innings package last year."
While this may seem like an argument over carrying the Extra Innings package, the bigger component is the MLB Channel.
"The MLB Channel is a long-term vision for baseball," said Maury Brown, founder and president of BizOfBaseball.com and a sports business analyst for Baseball Prospectus. "They are placing a large amount of emphasis on it from a growth potential standpoint for Major League Baseball."
Negotiations among MLB, Dish Network and iN Demand are continuing.
"We are trying to get everybody in," said Tim Brosnan, executive vice president of business for Major League Baseball. "That is our goal."
The Biz of Baseball will report any updates as soon as they are made available between now and the March 31st deadline