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MLB Network / MLB Extra Innings
Exclusive DirecTV Deal for EI Starts to Get More Coverage Print
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 24 January 2007 04:27

Slowly, a stream of articles on the DirecTV deal is starting to occur within the mainstream media and elsewhere. Here’s some other details, as I now have heard them…

  • The 7-year deal will start this year (2007) and run to 2013.
  • There is still some confusion over what cable offered in response to the DirecTV deal. The figure “$70 million” has been reported, but it’s not clear if that was an annual figure, and it’s still unknown what the number of years being offered in the deal, etc.

As for the reporting on the matter, I start off today on with Extra Innings Move Could Challenge Sunday Ticket:

A week until the Colts and Bears square off and you’re going through withdrawals. “Next year will be different,” you say. “Next year I’m getting hooked up for as many out-of-market games as I can by getting Sunday Ticket.” Ahh… football bliss, right? That depends.

There’s a steady shift going on with how out-of-market games are being delivered to your home. It’s the NFL now, but MLB, NASCAR, and possibly the NHL have come into play. What’s the shift? DirecTV being the exclusive provider for such packages as Sunday Ticket, and — as became public this week — MLB Extra Innings. DirecTV is bidding $100 million over seven years to be the exclusive provider of the Extra Innings package, $30 million more than current provider InDemand. It will cut access to Extra Innings from roughly 75 million households to roughly 15 million households.

Many football fans have criticized the NFL for not making Sunday Ticket available anywhere but DirecTV. But there’s a chance that an exclusive with MLB for Extra Innings might elevate the monopoly aspect of DirecTV to get members of Congress into the mix, more than they already have.

Tim Lemke of the Washington Times reports on his Sports Business Blog, A shrewd deal for MLB:

Not exactly the most "pro-fan" move by Major League Baseball. In fact, it's kind of evil. But when you analyze it, the deal is pure genius, and here's why:

There is another way to see out-of-market baseball games. It's called MLB.TV Internet service, which the league owns and operates.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports lays into MLB heavily with MLB TV deal gets fuzzy reception:

So here comes Major League Baseball in a quick, shortsighted money grab (again), selling out its core fans (again) and telling everyone (again) how the sport ought to be consumed.

Here comes MLB, as arrogant and detached as ever, ready to limit its popular "MLB Extra Innings" package by giving it exclusively to DirecTV rather than a large consortium of cable and satellite providers. And for what, an average of a million bucks per year, per team?

That's the price of fan loyalty these days? That's how much baseball owners value their best costumers? A bad middle reliever?

And my esteemed colleague Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus wrote yesterday in Prospectus Today: The Deal Almost No One Likes:

MLB is going to tick off a subset of that group: EI subscribers who either have Dish Network or cable. However, they’re not going to lose that group of people as fans of MLB as a whole. Some of those people will switch to DirecTV, others will make do with, still others will not purchase a package and live without the extra games. The number of fans that MLB will lose because of this decision, however, could fit in my living room. You simply don’t go from being such a big fan of baseball that you would purchase 1200 games a year on satellite to a non-fan based on one decision.

This is surely just the beginning. Wait till the deal actually is consummated.

Remember to vote in our poll on this topic in the upper right of the screen, and discuss the matter or frustrations here in the Biz of Baseball forums.


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


DirecTV Only Deal for Extra Innings Nearly Here Print
User Rating: / 3
Written by The Staff   
Friday, 19 January 2007 16:00

DirecTVAs Maury Brown covered in detail on Baseball Prospectus, and followed up here on The Biz of Baseball, MLB is about to come to an agreement with DirecTV to make them the exclusive television carrier of MLB Extra Innings. Richard Sandomir of the NY Times reports more details on the deal, including a 24-hour baseball only 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.

A 24-hour baseball-only channel is slated to start in 2009, according to the report. 

Tell us what you think in the Biz of Baseball forums, and view our poll results on this topic (to vote, the poll is in the upper right).



How a DirecTV-only Deal Could Impact Extra Innings Print
User Rating: / 15
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 08 January 2007 14:34

Maury BrownI'm probably not very popular with MLB today. It's ironic in the sense that I've recently received a couple of emails in which there were claims that Selig must be my "hero". OK, for the most part I've been happy with MLB. Labor peace can make a man crazy, and so, cart me off to the asylum, I'm guilty of seeing the glass more than half full with the National Pastime, it's almost full to the brim.

While I'm mostly happy with MLB, the restrictive nature of how MLB chooses to show out-of-market games has me scratching my head, and worse for those at 245 Park, it's made many fans angry: scratch that, outraged.

Today brought a sea of emails to my in-box over my latest Baseball Prospectus article (The Ledger Domain: The Monopolizing of MLB's Extra Innings Package). Here's the crib notes version: MLB is in advanced discussions with DirecTV to make them the exclusive carrier of MLB Extra Innings. In more detail, I write:

Last summer, I wrote in Blackout Blues how MLB’s arcane territorial television broadcast system restricts consumer options for those that wish to see MLB games out-of-market through or MLB Extra Innings. Now, MLB may be creating even more restraints on consumers.

John Orerand and Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal have reported that MLB is in advanced talks with DirecTV to make the satellite television company the exclusive provider of MLB Extra Innings. While Extra Innings was initially only offered on DirecTV in 1996, the package has been available on cable since 2001, and on Dish Network since 2004.

I then close by saying:

If you've been watching Extra Innings on cable, you'll need to hold off until you see whether this deal goes the DirecTV route. You may have to start finding a nice place to mount that dish on your house.

As a great many of those who wrote me asked: Why didn't you cover all of us that can't get DirecTV due to dish installation restrictions in our apartments, townhouses, and urban locations? Fair enough... What about that?

Some may claim that there should not be government restrictions on how products are delivered. As one reader mentioned, "If a company that makes golf clubs doesn't wish to sell its product in a big-box retailer, they're within their rights." True, but then we're not talking golf clubs, we're talking about a product delivered to homes. I can always get golf clubs. Many will be unable to get DirecTV at their homes, and be totally blacked out.

One reader suggested that it was a strategy to get people to use MLB.TV and Mosaic. Maybe. Still, by the level of anger within the scores of emails that I've received on MLB's black out policy and now this possible twist, many are going to tune off... period.


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


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