"Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) intends to question Federal Communications
Commission chairman Kevin Martin about the pending $700 million deal
between the direct-broadcast satellite provider and the league that
would provide DirecTV with exclusive rights to baseball’s Extra Innings
live-game package. The deal would shut out cable subscribers from
purchasing the $179 package, which provides hundreds of live
out-of-market baseball games.
Martin will appear Thursday in front of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, of which Kerry is a member.
“I am opposed to anything that deprives people of reasonable
choices. In this day and age, consumers should have more choices, not
fewer,” Kerry said in a prepared statement. “I’d like to know how this
serves the public — a deal that 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
Forget your political affiliations for a moment, and write to Senator Kerry in support of his questioning …
A fierce competitor … blessed with an arm like no other pitcher in history.
Ryan is also a fine citizen and humanitarian, giving generously of his time and money.
Happy 60th, Nolan!
(my comments in italics)
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.”
That still doesn’t resolve the issue of non-dish-capable fans having to watch the games on their computers, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
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.
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.”
As many columnists and fans have pointed out, the NFL Sunday Ticket deal is different in that it was NEVER offer as a special package to cable viewers. So, cable viewers never had it yanked out from under them.
As for reinvigorating the product …. how does chopping 80% of your
potential fan base out of the possible viewing universe accomplish
this? To paraphrase the old question … If only 1/5th of the "EI on cable" fans are able to watch added coverage of the AFL, spring training and minor league games, does it still make a sound?
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.
As far as I am aware, the NFL Network and NBA channel aren’t on the expanded basic tier package either, so this was going to be a precedent-setting move on the part of most cable providers. (If I am in error on this point, someone please correct me).
Thanks to Bob Timmermann for the heads-up on this article …. you can read Bob’s blog here …
Cartman: So what are you gonna do with all these “Extra Innings” games that you divert to DirecTV?
Gnome: Diverting “Extra Innings” games is just phase 1. Phase 1: divert “Extra Innings” games.
Kyle: Sooo, what’s phase 2?
Gnome: [has no response. Looks around, then calls out to the other gnomes on the “Extra Innings”games mound] Hey, what’s phase 2?
Gnome 2: Phase 1: we divert “Extra Innings” games.
Gnome: Yeah yeah yeah, but. What about phase 2?
Gnome 2: [says nothing, then] Well, phase 3 is profit. Get it?
Stan: I don’t get it.
Gnome 2: [walks up to a large chart] You see,
Phase 1: Divert “Extra Innings” games. Phase 2: … Phase 3: Profit.
Cartman: Oh, I get it.
Stan: No you don’t, fatass!
Kyle: Do you guys know anything about monopolies, anti-trust exemptions and exclusive broadcast rights contracts?
Gnome: You bet we do!
Gnome 2: Us gnomes are geniuses at monopolies, anti-trust exemptions and exclusive broadcast rights contracts.
Gnomes: [three of them move a cart of diverted Extra Innings games up a track]
Time to go to work, work all night
Center Gnome: [the cart falls off the track and on down] Jesus Christ, look out! [the cart lands on a fan who used to watch Extra Innings on their cable system]
Stan: Oh my God, they killed a die-hard baseball fan.
Kyle: You ********. Listen, we have to give a huge speech tomorrow about monopolies, anti-trust exemptions and exclusive broadcast rights contracts.
Gnome: Holy sh*t! We’ve killed a die-hard baseball fan.
Stan: Yeahyeahyeah. Look. We’ve gotta know about monopolies, anti-trust exemptions and exclusive broadcast rights contracts by tomorrow or we’re screwed.
Gnome 2: Chr*st, we squished that fan like a bug.
Stan: Do you know anything about monopolies, anti-trust exemptions and exclusive broadcast rights contracts?
Gnome: Well, we can explain that to you easily.
Gnome 2: Yes, for a price.
Gnome: You know.
Stan: Forking over my money to buy a DirecTV satellite so I can continue to watch Extra Innings on a regular TV?
[In front of Cable company headquarters, daytime. Prop. 10 supporters are out in force]
Lady Member: All right. And now, before we all vote yes on Prop. 10, here to remind us why are the lovable, innocent children.
Stan: Uh. Since we are so concerned with the monopolies, anti-trust exemptions and exclusive broadcast rights contracts, we went and asked our friends, the Extra Innings gnomes, and they told us all about monopolies, anti-trust exemptions and exclusive broadcast rights contracts.
Supporter: Extra Innings gnomes?
Kyle: Monopolies, anti-trust exemptions and exclusive broadcast rights contracts are good!
Supporter 2: What’s this?
Supporter 3: Good? [the Lady Member is cross]
Kyle: Because without monopolies, anti-trust exemptions and exclusive broadcast rights contracts, we wouldn’t have things like cars and computers and canned soup.
Stan: Even Extra Innings started off as a small, little business. But because it gave us so much great baseball, and because MLB ran their business so well, they managed to grow and grow until it became the corporate powerhouse it is today. And that is why we should all let Extra Innings go to DirecTV! [the crowd is stunned]
etc etc etc
"In a radio interview Tuesday, Bobby Murcer said he’s doing "fabulous" in his battle against a malignant brain tumor and hopes to continue broadcasting Yankees games for the team’s YES network this season.
"… Murcer took questions from callers and said he feels "blessed" with all the support he has received.
"I’m just doing absolutely fabulous … I haven’t had any setbacks of any kind," Murcer said."
" …currently undergoing treatment for the tumor, said he plans on attending Yankees spring training in Tampa, Fla., if he feels well enough to do so.
"I plan on being back in the booth and spring training if all goes well," Murcer said."
Certainly puts my ranting over Extra Innings into perspective …
I’m thrilled over this news … and look forward to seeing/hearing Bobby again.
"Mr. Leli, 18, had worshiped the Mets since age 3 and was a huge fan of Mike Piazza, the catcher, even after he left the Mets a year ago for San Diego.
Mr. Leli’s other passion was celebrity-chasing. A drama student, he relied on sharp clothes, acting skills and general charm to infiltrate movie sets and film premieres, meeting the likes of Tom Cruise and Sean Combs. He would post photographs of himself with the stars on his personal page on MySpace.com.
So that August afternoon, Mr. Leli did what any overenthusiastic Piazza fan might fantasize about: He created a fake press pass that fooled Shea officials and gained access to the visiting team’s clubhouse, where Mr. Piazza was being interviewed by a scrum of reporters."
"Mr. Leli’s line of questioning — especially the request that Mr. Piazza pose for a photo with him — annoyed a Padres official, who had him ejected.
Mr. Leli tried the same trick a week later, when the Mets played the Colorado Rockies. This time, he was stopped by detectives at the press entrance and arrested."
"In court, Mr. Leli examined a reporter’s press pass and wrinkled his nose. “Not bad,” he said, “but mine was better.”
“He’s always been my hero, and I just wanted to meet him,” Mr. Leli said.
"His mother, Denise, interjected, “He had no idea he was doing anything that wrong and he just wanted to hang out with Piazza and the Mets"
Mr. Leli, for his part, complained that the video camera he had used to film Mr. Piazza had been seized as evidence and not returned. “I want that camera back,” he said. “My prom pictures are in there.”
Dear Mr. Leli …. did you not get a chance to meet Mr. Piazza at a card show or similar event during the 7 years he played at Shea? And as for your camera … "reporters" don’t need cameras … they have cameramen for that job.
Dear Mr. Leli’s mom …. you didn’t think your son’s impersonating a reporter and entering a restricted area was … at the least …. foolish?
I’ve already left my message with TPTB over there regarding the move of Extra Innings off of cable ….
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10167
Phone: (212) 931-7800
Next up …. time to call my Congress rep regarding MLB’s anti-trust exemption status
(and yes … I know MLB is a "business" … but this is a monopoly with a total disregard for fan economics)
"Major League Baseball is close to announcing a deal that will place its Extra Innings package of out-of-market games exclusively on DirecTV, which will also become the only carrier of a long-planned 24-hour baseball 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.
InDemand, which has distributed Extra Innings to the cable television industry since 2002, made an estimated $70 million bid to renew its rights, more than triple what it has been paying. Part of its offer included the right to carry the new baseball channel, but not exclusively.
The baseball channel is scheduled to start in 2009.
M.L.B., DirecTV and InDemand officials declined to comment.
DirecTV is also the exclusive outlet for the N.F.L.’s Sunday Ticket package, for which it pays $700 million annually. Sunday Ticket has about 2 million subscribers; Extra Innings about 750,000, according to The Sports Business Journal.
Extra Innings lets subscribers, for a fee, watch about 60 games a week from other local markets except their own.
The only other way that fans without DirecTV will be able to see Extra Innings will be on MLB.com’s mlb.tv service, but they must have high-speed broadband service. About 28 million homes have high-speed service, less than half the number of cable homes in the country. The picture quality of streamed games is not as good as what is available on cable or satellite.
DirecTV is available to about 15 million subscribers.
Last month, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, who was then the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cited DirecTV’s exclusivity with Sunday Ticket as a reason to strip the N.F.L. of an antitrust exemption to negotiate all TV contracts for its teams. Comcast, which has complained that it cannot carry Sunday Ticket, is a Philadelphia-based company."
So if you are like me, in that you live in a residence that doesn’t allow satellite dishes …. you are SCREWED.
MLB chases the big bucks again, and alienates its fan base … again.
MLB.TV is nice, but its no substitute for being able to enjoy watching many games on a nice big TV.
"The news on Bobby Murcer, who underwent surgery last week for a brain tumor, is grave, the Daily News has learned. The Yankees slugger, 60, is facing the fight of his life after tests revealed the tumor was malignant and, although it was completely removed, the surgery apparently was unable to contain other invasive cancer cells, according to a person close to the family."
I’m saddened to no end by this news …. any good thoughts you can give towards my very first "favorite player" would be appreciated.
"Mark McGwire elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame"
‘Big Mac’ never played a game, but just looked like a linebacker