Per espn.com, and a MLB press release, MLB and DirectTV have signed a deal to carry Extra Innings.  Contrary to prior reports and/or the deal as originally struck, this is not an exclusive deal.  Incumbent carriers, In Demand (cable) and the Dish Network have the right to match DirectTV’s deal.  In MLB’s language, “at consistent rates and carriage requirements with a deal to be concluded before the baseball season begins.”  They’d also have to carry the MLB Channel when it starts in 2009, “proportionally equivalent to DIRECTV’s commitment” (which is rumored to be on the “basic” tier, a hangup for some cable operators).

DirectTV also promised that by next year, most of the games will be in HD.

This sounds like a good, fair deal.  DirectTV’s product is likely to be superior to cable’s, with all the HD games, but fans won’t be coerced into switching, or left out in the cold if satellite’s not an option.  It lets the cable companies compete on an equal footing – if they’re not willing to pay the freight, they don’t have to carry the games.

The interesting thing will be what they’ll do, now that they can’t just point the blame at MLB.  We’ll find out how significant the subscriber base really is for Extra Innings, if Comcast, et al, are willing to use a basic cable channel on the Baseball Channel.

Join the conversation! 21 Comments

  1. I don’t think this is really all that fair. Many of these new channels popping up are not one’s that cable wants in their ‘basic’ service because they then have to either jack up the price or pass it on to their customers. A 24-hour MLB channel is not of general interest; it is a specialty.

    So they’ve now come up with a nice way to make it look like it is cable’s fault if extra innings isn’t available outside of Direct TV. Pretty clever.

    In my book, they can point the blame at MLB. MLB is extending their hand because they care about their hardcore baseball fans. They are just trying to make it so they don’t look like they don’t care. This is extortion and nothing fair about it.

  2. Oh there’s little chance the cable companies are gonna pony up that kind of payola. And if they do, it’s coming right out of the customers’ pockets. Big time.

    Remember how the NFL package leaped from $175 to $315 with HD in one season? That’s the kind of uptick we’d be talking about with Extra Innings.

    I’ve said it many times before: If you have high-speed Internet, MLB.TV is a helluva bargain. Every out of market game on TV and radio for $90. For the season.

  3. Well, the claim was that they had offered to match the price. As for MLB.tv, I just can’t bring myself to watch 162 games on my laptop. I keep hearing the picture quality is supposed to improve, but I don’t think it’s there yet.

  4. I just looked at the demo again – is the only way to view it 2 x 3 inches?

  5. [#3]. No you can make it full screen. I know I have in the past. I think by right clicking on the screen itself and choosing full screen. Let me check if you can do that with the demo.

  6. [#3] Go to the 700K demo link (right below the video on the main page). When you are playing that one, right click on the screen and then choose “zoom”. Then choose full screen.

  7. Point the blame at MLB? It’s their product. There’s no “blame.”

    Extortion? You can watch games locally on cable and free TV. You can watch games nationally on cable and free TV. You can watch games of your choice on satellite and the Internet.

    Just because you’re not getting exactly what you want, when you want, how you want is really your problem, not MLBs. They’ve given you options. You choose not to use any of them.

    This kind of complaint is akin to those who bitch about the weather forecast that’s not targeted to his own backyard. It’s all about me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me . . . .

  8. Obviously Mr. Redlegs is not affected by the deal.

    Baseball is not just a product. It is part of a national conscience, a part of America. There are just some corporations – like Major League Baseball – who have a greater responsibility to uphold and protect something greater than a simple product that exists solely to make money.

    It’s not about me, me, me at all. It’s about America. The only me, me, me involved are those who get rich off of screwing the common American.

  9. Chris, doesn’t your laptop have an s-jack so you can plug it in to your television? All you need is a standard RCA cable if it does.

  10. Daedalus, actually I am affected by the deal. I have an enormous birch tree in my neighbor’s backyard that blocks my sightline for DirecTV. So I buy the product on MLB.TV while infesting that tree with woodpeckers. They should be done with the job by 2013.

    And I’m sorry, why is MLB’s “responsibility” greater than the NFL, or Microsoft, or AT&T, or the utility companies or pharmaceutical firms, etc, etc.?

    It’s not. For the most part, you have options with these businesses, and you have viewing options with MLB.

  11. The reason I think this deal is fair is that the cable companies have the opportunity to carry the package on the very same terms that DirectTV is paying. If they don’t feel that’s economically viable, and choose not to do it, why should we blame MLB?

  12. Thanks for that suggestion, Daedalus. I’ll try that out with Lost or some other online show, and see about the quality. I suspect that blowing a 3 inch screen up to 50 inches will be a disaster, but who knows.

  13. On the espn.com frontpage there are a couple of articles about the return of Josh Hamilton, I haven’t gotten around to reading them but I figured somebody would post them on here. Oh, and am I the only one that doesn’t care about Steve Phillips opinions?

  14. Agree with no. 11. InDemand, which carried the package on cable last year, has balked at the terms of the deal. InDemand is an entity owned by Comcast, Time Warner and Cox. Pretty hard to feel sorry for those guys. MLB has handled the PR poorly, but at the end of the day they’ve given cable the chance to carry Extra Innings. If cable chooses not to, then a pox on them, but not MLB.

  15. Mr. Redlegs, baseball is waaaay different than your average fortune 500 company, specifically that they have an antitrust exemption from the federal government. It’s what allows them to flaunt their power in deals like this, it’s why the Mitchell commission has no teeth, and it’s why there is no salary cap (even though all major sports have one). All 3 hurt competition.

  16. I’m not sure I agree 100%, Sultan. The anti-trust exemption is important, but as for the other stuff – the Mitchel commission is no more than something baseball put together for p.r. purposes. It lacks subpoena power because it’s a private enterprise, just like any other company’s internal investigative unit. As for the salary cap – what Fortune 500 company (or industry) has one? I don’t know that I get your point about competition. I don’t see desire for a third major league to compete with these two.

  17. Greetings from Dallas, where I had to take a cab to my connecting flight. What a barn DFW has become . . . .

    Sultan, how can you objectively stand in defense of the cable companies? Look at your taxes, your fees, your (generally) lousy service.

    After MLB’s exclusive negotiating window with DirecTV, the cable companies could have competed for the Extra Innings contract. They chose to pass, then turn into Minnie the Moochers so they could piggyback on the relative cheap for the package. MLB said no. They now have their own entity (Internet) and, honestly, don’t need the cable companies.

    The point of baseball being a public interest . . . well, that doesn’t entirely wash. This is sports, not air traffic controllers going on strike. There was nothing the federal government could do about the baseball strike of ’94, so, now that MLB has two options for viewers and even opened the door for cable companies to compete, there anti-trust argument is without merit.

    Get rid of your cable company if it refuses to address you, the customer. This happened a few years ago with some systems that dropped WGN. Cubs fans were nuts and forced Cox and Time Warner to put WGN back on the air.

    So, you have choices. Use them.

  18. MLB.TV is not always an option for people, either. Believe it or not, there are large chunks of this country that do not have high speed access. And some of us have such crappy service that the games continuously buffer, usually at the worst possible moment!!!

    I still think it’s great, but MLB.TV could and does not improve it’s product. Though they are offering a “premium package” this year for an extra $5 a month that is supposed to have much faster streaming.

  19. I have no beef whatsoever with who provides these services–could care less. The point of the antitrust exemption long ago was that baseball provided a service that was in the national interest, therefore they weren’t subject to the same rules as other business enterprises. As such, the only club the government has to wield over baseball is the threat of yanking their exemption. It’s the only thing that ever compels baseball to comply on issues they oftentimes choose to ignore. I’d like to get into it further, but I gotta go coach baseball.

  20. Sultan, quite simply–again and again–MLB has games on free TV, it has games on cable, it has games on satellite, it has games on the Internet, and, honestly, the antitrust doesn’t apply here. There’s no monopoly being enforced, there’s no one excluded from watching the product. The damn games are all over the place.

    And since MLB has said the cable companies are welcomed to add Extra Innings if they pay the same price as DirecTV, they have not excluded anyone from the rights. The ball is in your cable operator’s hands.

    The only left for MLB to do is send Bob DuPuy to your house and operate the remote just for you. Maybe even serve you beer and peanuts.

    Yeesh.

  21. What part of couldn’t care less didn’t you understand? The point I’m obviously not making clear is that baseball’s unfettered powers weaken the game for the hard core baseball fan.

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Baseball - General, Reds - General