Results tagged ‘ TV/Cable coverage ’
"Cable subscribers will once again be able to watch out-of-market
Major League Baseball games, ending their fears that the Extra Innings
package would become the exclusive domain of DirecTV for the next seven
M.L.B. and InDemand — a
consortium that is owned by the cable operators Comcast, Time Warner
and Cox — agreed last night to restore Extra Innings swiftly to their
systems as a free preview through sometime next week, after which it
will cost a discounted $159 for a short period.
crucial part of the negotiations for baseball was InDemand’s agreement
to carry the MLB Channel, which is to make its debut in 2009.
Between the deals made with DirecTV and InDemand, baseball said the
channel will have 40 million subscribers when it starts. “We believe we
have a compelling product that our fans are passionate about,” Brosnan
Robert D. Jacobson, InDemand’s president, said: “We’re
very comfortable with the deal. We feel we were treated very fairly
related to DirecTV.”
The InDemand partnership received an equity
stake of a little below 20 percent in the MLB Channel, which is about
equal to DirecTV’s.
M.L.B. will receive an average of $100
million a year through 2013 for the Extra Innings rights from DirecTV
and cable operators. The size of their yearly payments will be reduced
if Dish negotiates its own deal.
Baseball will benefit further
from its majority share of the estimated $120 million in annual gross
subscriber fees that the channel will generate."
So …. is everyone happy?
1) MLB got a boatload of added revenue
2) MLB got its Baseball Channel on cable starting in ’09
3) Cable-based fans got EI back
I’m still not happy with MLB’s heavy-handedness of this whole event, but I’m thrilled to be able to watch out-of-market games when I want to on cable.
OK … I gotta give some props to MLB.TV.
This season, their between innings commercial break screen features a baseball floating around the screen. When it reaches the edge of the screen, you hear a little Pong-like "blip" and then it floats to another corner, or towards the middle, where there is a MLB.TV "bumper". If it heads towards the bottom of the screen, a "commercial break in progress" "paddle" slides over to keep the ball floating around the screen.
Its MLB.TV "Breakout" …. its cute and clever.
(amended …. it IS cute and clever … but it DOES get a bit tiresome after a few innings)
When MLB announced its DirecTV deal for "exclusive" carrying of Extra Innings, it was announced that InDemand and DISH Network had a 3-week window to match DirecTV’s carriage promises for the 2009 debut of "The Baseball Channel" if it wanted to continue to carry EI.
It was a bit of an olive branch thrown out by MLB, perhaps to appease the irate rabid fan base of EI cable subscribers, perhaps to get the FCC and Sen. Kerry and Specter off their backs. It also allowed MLB to say to their fans … "hey, we gave cable and DISH the chance to match the DirecTV offer, and they wouldn’t, so don’t scream at us."
So … now … with less than 2 weeks till Opening Day, InDemand announces that it will carry the "Baseball Channel" in ’09, and that it will be match the DirecTV EI offer. But MLB doesn’t believe InDemand met all the criteria set forth.
"IN Demand said Wednesday it will offer to match the terms of DirecTV’s $700 million, seven-year deal with Major League Baseball on behalf its owners, who are affiliates of the companies that own Time Warner, Comcast and Cox cable systems.
As part of the offer, iN Demand also said it would carry The Baseball Channel when it launches in 2009 to at least the same number of subscribers who will get the channel on DirecTV.
"As the current home for ‘Extra Innings’ for more than 200,000 cable subscribers, we have extended ourselves to do our best to be able to continue to provide this package to baseball fans and our customers," iN Demand president Robert Jacobson said. "This offer meets all the conditions set forth by MLB last week."
Bob DuPuy, baseball’s chief operating officer, issued a statement responding to the offer Wednesday.
"The offer to match the terms of the agreement reached by MLB and DirecTV remains open to iN Demand and Dish until the deadline of March 31, 2007," DuPuy said in the statement. "The communication sent to our office today by iN Demand is not responsive to that offer. In spite of their public comments, the response falls short of nearly all of the material conditions (among them requirements for carriage of The Baseball Channel and their share of the rights fees for Extra Innings) set forth in the Major League Baseball offer made to them on March 9."
"Major League Baseball … I haggle for this …"
You should also contact your local cable TV provider.
"MLB and DirecTV reached a seven year agreement for DirecTV to carry
MLB Extra Innings. In addition, DirecTV will add enhancements, such as
a mosaic channel. DirecTV will also carry the Baseball Channel when it
debuts in 2009.
In Demand and Dish Network, the other incumbent carriers of Extra
Innings can still buy the package. However, they have until the end of
March, and they must pay the same rate as DirecTV, and carry the
Baseball Channel as well. If neither of these providers signs on to the
deal, DirecTV gets an exclusive and pays more money to MLB. MLB
suggests people who get Extra Innings on Dish and In Demand call their
providers to encourage them to make a deal for Extra Innings.
So there’s still hope fans won’t be shut out, but there’s not much time left."
This still reeks of anti-fan money-grubbing …. but its not a poison pill (yet).
One reader’s comment on another (non-MLB.com) blog kind of sums up the shadiness of this deal:
"Its good to know that MLB is using its power to help out a soon-to-be
owner in Liberty Media. One that is buying the Braves to make sure it
doesn’t have to pay any income taxes on their sale of Time Warner stock
back to Time Warner."
Major League Baseball and DIRECTV will make a major joint
announcement on a 4:15 P.M. (EST) conference call this afternoon.
Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Major League Baseball
President & Chief Operating Officer Bob DuPuy, MLB Executive Vice
President for Business Tim Brosnan and DIRECTV President & Chief
Executive Officer Chase Carey will be among the representatives who
will be available on the call.
Its all about the Benjamins boys and girls …. your opinion doesn’t count. As long as there are broadcast partners willing to shell out dollars, MLB will sell its product to the highest bidder.
Bud Selig doesn’t appear to be aware (or care) that some fans can’t follow their favorite team if they don’t happen to live in that team’s city, or that fans get upset when they pay good money to have access to something above and beyond the standard fare, and then have it swept away.
His quotes, then my comments in bold/italics ….
"I’ve heard for years we have too much product out there," Selig said.
Then why is MLB seeking to introduce its OWN 24-hour Baseball Channel. That would seem to be a LOT OF PRODUCT on top of the "too much product". Additionally, this statement, when taken in the context of the "Baseball Channel" introduction, runs counter to what his VP of Business, Tim Brosnan said in his USA Today commentary a few weeks ago:
"Brosnan: MLB has consistently sought to do the best job possible of marketing
the game to our fans. Through the ballpark experience, TV, radio,
satellite radio, broadband and the Internet, wireless, licensed
products and sponsor marketing initiatives, we look to meet the demands
of our fans in as many ways as possible for one simple reason: It’s
good business." ….. Our goal remains to provide as much MLB programming as we can to the
maximum number of viewers, and any consummated deal will reflect that. (emphasis mine)
Back to Selig’s comments:
"Everywhere I’ve gone … there’s no market that has less than 350 to 400
[televised] games, and some [like Chicago] have quite a bit more than
that. We have an enormous amount of product out there.
That may be true, but if you are a Pirates fan living in Anaheim, you are most likely never going to see the Buccos playing on ESPN or FOX. And also, the market is saturated with Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs and Braves content from the teams own sports networks, and ESPN and Fox’s infatuation with the big market teams. Once the Tigers quietly sneak into the playoffs, does anyone know their players …. does anyone care? Maybe THAT’S why playoff ratings are abysmal.
Also, it’s not like MLB couldn’t work out a non-exclusive rights deal with both DirecTV and the cable operators. The vast majority of fans have one technology or the other. They rarely have both, and cable is the predominant force here. How is "adding more product" (in this case, keeping more ways of dispensing product …. a bad thing? The answer …. MLB wants to direct lots of traffic towards MLB.TV and MLB Advanced Media in general …. because they OWN it. They don’t have to negotiate rights fees with anyone. Its why baseball teams create their own sports networks on cable …. they own the content … they reap the economic windfall.
"As for this deal, what fascinates me is I have spent a lot of time
going over it and trying to find out who can’t get [DirecTV]. We’re down now to such small numbers, that I’m really wondering [about the fuss]."
Apparently Selig doesn’t live in an apartment complex without southern exposure, doesn’t live in an building which has rules against satellite dishes, and doesn’t realize that the "such small numbers" are most likely MLB’s MOST RABID FANS …. the ones who are more than happy to spend the dollars for wall-to-wall coverage, if they are given the opportunity. MLB is being so gung-ho for their Baseball Channel to be on a cable basic tier, they are willing to forsake the cable Extra Innings viewership (though $700 million over seven years helps MLB’s suits sleep better at night)
"… In a year or two, when people understand the significance of this deal … everybody will understand it."
Ummm …. why can’t Selig explain the significance of the deal now? Is there some glorious MLB Advanced Media proprietary technology on the horizon that will render DirecTV moot? Is there a Slingbox or Tivo-type innovation that will revolutionize the information superhighway? I doubt DirecTV would sign a 7-year deal if they had even an inkling MLB was going to make their exclusive baseball coverage less than exclusive, or their satellite less desirable. The significance of the deal …. bottom line (no pun intended) is to (I think) drive business towards MLB.TV, and then take MLB Advanced Media public.
My thanks to Alex Carnevale of Baseball Prospectus for the original posting of Selig’s quotes.
Remember earlier in the week, when I mentioned that faint glimmer of hope that cable would be able to retain EI programming? Well today, DirecTV now seems even closer to signing on as the exclusive carrier of Extra Innings.
In a letter Friday to Monica Shah Desai, chief of the FCC’s Media Bureau,
DirecTV president-CEO Chase Carey said DirecTV will create a better
deal for consumers by investing to make Extra Innings a better product
than it was while on cable; he said no governmental action is called
Mr. Carey also asserted that no one will be denied access
to the great American pastime. Consumers who can switch to DirecTV from
cable will be provided free equipment and installation, and the 5,000
people in the country who have the package and cannot receive DirecTV
will have access to the games through MLB.com.
Mr. Carey added that policies set by Congress and the FCC allow for some programming to be provided on an exclusive basis.
his letter, Mr. Carey described what the Extra Innings service would
look like if the satellite TV provider completes its deal with MLB.
Most games will be provided in high-definition on satellite—something
cable operators don’t have the bandwidth for now—and the games will be
accompanied by the Strike Zone channel, which will deliver live cut-ins
of games throughout the country as well as scores and statistics.
will do for Extra Innings what we have done for other programming:
transform a service that had enjoyed limited popularity when offered by
multiple [distributors] into a fan’s dream,” Mr. Carey said.
DirecTV also is agreeing to carry MLB’s Baseball Channel, which will be available to other distributors as well.
to Mr. Carey, only 230,000 non-DirecTV subscribers purchased Extra
Innings last year. (About 270,000 DirecTV customers bought the
“The only real barriers to cable customers who want
to switch to DirecTV are imposed by cable,” Mr. Carey added. “Cable
penalizes such customers by increasing the price of Internet service if
a customer drops cable’s video service. Furthermore, if cable did not
prohibit a direct connection between the Internet and the set-top box,
MLB.com could easily be viewed on television sets.”
letter, Mr. Carey said that more than 400 games are televised in most
broadcast markets by local stations, regional sports networks, Fox, TBS
“In the end, this transaction will not reduce the
access of any baseball fan to his or her home team games or to the many
out-of-town games MLB makes available each year outside of Extra
Innings,” he said."
"DirectTV acknowledged an agreement with Major League Baseball to
become the sole television distributor of the sport’s out-of-market package in a
letter to the Federal Communications Commission, saying the deal will benefit
While the seven-page letter from DirectTV president Chase Carey to the FCC
on Friday referred in the second paragraph to "DirecTV’s agreement," company
spokesman Robert Mercer said later that the letter was incorrect.
"The letter should have said proposed agreement. There is no agreement as
yet," Mercer said.
My thanks to Bob Timmermann of The Griddle for the heads-up on the TV Week article.
It now appears there is a faint ray of hope that EI won’t be moved off of cable to an exclusive DirecTV agreement.
"The controversy comes because
DirecTV is trying to get an exclusive contract to carry the MLB
package, as it already has with the NFL. That has raised criticism and
threats of legislative action by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., along with a
statement by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin
that he is also concerned with the expected change.
Both men, as
well as an estimated 180,000 baseball fans who subscribed to Extra
Innings last year on cable and 50,000 fans who did so with the
competing satellite service from EchoStar Communications (Charts), might get their wish without a change in legislation.
source familiar with negotiations said he now believes that the Extra
Innings package will remain available to all three services.
"I’d be surprised if the DirecTV deal goes through," he said.
key isn’t likely to revolve around more money, but an agreement by the
cable operators to provide broader carriage for a Baseball Network
which MLB intends to start operating in 2009.
DirecTV had been
willing to let all 15 million of its subscribers have the new Baseball
Network right from the start, as well as helping with some of the
start-up costs, according to multiple sources. It isn’t willing to be
as helpful to MLB’s upstart network if it doesn’t gain the advantage of
an exclusive deal on Extra Innings, though.
But after initially
rebuffing the MLB demands for carriage of the Baseball Network, the
cable operators are now coming around, according to the industry source.
will be a commitment to carry the Baseball Network (on cable)," said
the industry official. "Where it will be placed, that still needs to be
Another source with the league said he was not aware
of any shift away from plans to go with an exclusive deal for DirecTV.
But talks have lingered for months without an official announcement
even as baseball’s opening day draws near.
A non-exclusive deal
would not only reduce the risk of any interference from Washington. It
will also allow baseball to not anger more than 200,000 of its most
loyal customers who would have to shift television services to keep
following their teams.
The motivation for the exclusive deal has
been reported — incorrectly — as baseball’s desire to get the top
rights fee for the Extra Innings package.
The big cable
companies, which collectively own a service called In Demand that airs
the Extra Innings games, were reportedly willing to pay $70 million a
year for a non-exclusive deal.
And while DirecTV won’t offer $100
million for a non-exclusive deal, it seems safe to say that it and the
Dish Network, along with the telephone companies that are making their
own push to provide television service, would easily pay more than $30
million combined for non-exclusive deals.
Plus, it’s not as if
DirecTV is likely to take a big financial hit if it doesn’t get an
exclusive MLB contract. Sources familiar with subscription numbers say
that DirecTV already has 270,000 Extra Innings customers…more than
the cable companies. Assuming DirecTV can hold onto all these
customers, that works out to $50 million in subscriber fees.
hasn’t been as much heat over DirecTV’s exclusive contract with NFL’s
Sunday Ticket, but that’s because that has always been an exclusive
deal. But that doesn’t mean the cable operators have given up hope
getting into that deal as well."