I had the good fortune to work closely with Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer for a column he ran yesterday on the Extra Innings deal. Within in it I mention how The Baseball Channel is a large part of MLB's long-term strategy, but beyond that, Narducci wrote:
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."
Mutichannel News also is backing Narducci's article by reporting:
Down to their last out, Major League Baseball and In Demand Friday were still trying to hammer out a last-minute deal for cable to distribute the league’s “MLB Extra Innings” out-of-market game package.
As further reported by Multichannel:
Meanwhile, DirecTV last week began a national marketing campaign surrounding its Extra Innings package despite uncertainty over the package’s exclusivity. The satellite company ran a full page ad in USA Today touting the package as well as a 20% discount if purchased before April 7. It was unclear at press time what other national publications the ad was scheduled to run.
As I've reported before, the deal was setup with a poison pill provision for iN Demand. The fact that iN Demand members Time Warner and Cox refused to put The NFL Network on the basic tier sets up a no-win situation for the cable consortium. How can iN Demand work a deal for Extra Innings without raising the hair on the neck of the 800-pound gorilla in the corner, the NFL?
Would it make good business sense for cable and DISH to be on-board? Absolutely.
LATE UPDATE: Word is coming via a source close to the situation that the midnight deadline seems flexible and that the sides are still talking. Stay tuned.
Maury Brown is the founder and president of The Biz of Baseball and an author for Baseball Prospectus. He can be contacted here.