January 27, 2007

Around The Horn: The MLB/DirecTV Deal

A few media reports on MLB's proposed deal to give DirecTV excusive rights to its Extra Innings package:

Dan Wetzel, Yahoo!:
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 [for] an average of a million bucks per year, per team ... That's how much baseball owners value their best costumers? A bad middle reliever? ...

How MLB, which isn't talking about the proposed deal, could consider severely limiting the availability of its product a good idea at that pathetic price is stunning. ...

While some fans will undoubtedly make the change, it probably never dawned on baseball owners who live in gated mansions that not everyone can get DirecTV. Many apartment complexes and condominium developments prohibit satellite installation. Some lack the required clear view of the southern sky. ...

The reasons hardly matter. The question is: Why make it more difficult for customers to buy the product?
Joe Sheehan, Baseball Prospectus:
MLB is going to tick off a subset of ... 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 MLB.tv, 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. ...

I don't mean to dismiss the concerns of the disenfranchised. [This is a fairly fan-hostile decision.] Remember, the frustration that's being expressed is largely among those people who will not even have the opportunity to purchase the package at any price. ...

When you break it down, this decision is clearly the right one for MLB. They make more money up front. The people it affects negatively have a series of options, albeit aggravating or inferior ones, and their pursuit of those options is likely to create additional revenue. The far-left-end users who will be hurt by DirecTV's exclusivity are going to be the most vocal about their unhappiness, but at the same time, they are the ones least likely to be completely turned off of baseball.
Tim Lemke, Washington Times:
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.

Now, MLB officials know people want their baseball. A Red Sox fan in Cleveland who's been catching their team's games on Extra Innings will NOT give up watching Sox games altogether just because baseball officials are greedy jerks.

MLB officials know that if fans don't currently get DirecTV, they'll switch to it. Or, if those fans can't get DirecTV, they'll sign up for MLB.TV. So baseball wins no matter what. ...

Some people have argued they don't want the MLB.TV service because they don't want to watch baseball on their computer screens. This is a valid point, but if they were hardcore enough fans to spend close to $200 for the Extra Innings Package, they'll embrace the Internet if it's the only option.

And besides, I'm willing to bet that by the time this deal with DirecTV ends, the quality of Internet broadcasting will be close to the quality of high-definition TV, making these satellite packages no longer necessary.
If you have not called MLB to complain:

(212) 931-7800

1 comment:

L-girl said...

Great stuff from Dan Wetzel. I really appreciate that.

I hope everyone has called MLB or will call on Monday. It takes 5 minutes.

We have no control over the situation, but don't use that as an excuse. They should hear from us.