January 21, 2007

Selig Is Spitting On You

After reading posts at SoSH about MLB's nearly-completed deal to give exclusive broadcast rights of its Extra Innings package to DirecTV -- and knowing that DirecTV isn't available in Canada -- I am livid.

Once again, MLB looks only at its own bottom line while knowingly and gladly fucking over hundreds of thousands of fans (most of whom are die-hard/obsessive followers of the sport).

As my Red Sox-watching partner puts it:
And people call the players greedy!

Major League Baseball is a business and exists to make money ... I don't have a problem with [that]. But a move like this demonstrates MLB's utter contempt for their fans. Instead of negotiating contracts that bring baseball to the greatest number of people possible, they assign exclusive rights, putting the interests of a television provider ahead of the interests of millions of fans.
My question: Will this take effect for the 2007 season? There is no mention of that in the Times article I linked to below.

In 2005, Extra Innings had an estimated 280,000 subscribers (according to this; the Times puts the number at 750,000), while MLB.tv had about 1.3 million subscribers. Selig et al. must be confident that former EI subscribers who have no access to DirecTV will simply switch to MLB's inferior product because they gotta see the games. Or they don't give a shit. ... I wonder if we'll see a corresponding increase in the price of MLB.tv ($80 last year)?

SoSHer geoduck no quahog:
It's not about service. It's about bait-and-switch. ...

When a monopoly subsequently decides to limit the availability of its service, that leaves subscribers with redundant services, or forces them to switch providers (how many times...). It's identical to the baseball monopoly arbitrarily deciding to switch to Sirius - making all XM receivers superfluous to the intense baseball fan. It's not free enterprise. There is no competetive option available to the consumer. Baseball broadcasting rights cannot be competed against by others who may try to provide a better service. Baseball has the authority to blackout (blockout) competitors.
gnq also points out that MLB.tv can only be watched live (or the next day after the games are archived). So fans working 9-5 on the west coast will be out of luck -- even with MLB.tv -- since east coast games will begin when they are still at work. They will not be able to TiVo the games and begin watching when they get home.

So after I make my phone calls tomorrow morning, then what?

A SoSHer mentioned hooking your computer to your TV and getting the MLB.tv feed on the TV. Even if that was possible, I don't know how feasible that would be for us (or other people whose computer may not be anywhere near their TV). And it is still the computer feed on the bigger screen.

Another poster -- in nearby Guelph, Ontario -- said that even though the NFL package is a DirecTV exclusive, it is part of Rogers cable's sports package. I have no idea of the history of that arrangement, but it offers a glimmer of hope.

Call Bud:

(212) 931-7800

17 comments:

L-girl said...

Selig et al. must be confident that former EI subscribers who have no access to DirecTV will simply switch to MLB's inferior product because they gotta see the games.

And thus be closer to all the crappy merchandise sold on their website.

I'm livid, too.

I realize it may not change anything, but please folks, keep the pressure on.

Danie said...

They already did this in the Boston Area. Not changing stations, but taking every flippin' game except for the FOX national ones off the free airways.

I don't have Cable (or Sat.) so, WEEI it is for me... Last year at this time I was saying something along the lines of what you're saying. "What, the desperately need that money that comes from one friggin' game every week??"

It's all about the money, it's always about the money. I hate to say it, but that's why I like the football coverage better. If it's on ESPN, they get to show it on ABC in the home Market. Smart cookies, don't piss off your base... like the Red Sox did. So, the MLB isn't the only ones to make boneheaded decisions for the money.

Woti-woti said...

I posted this earlier over on WMTC but my 2 cents worth of bug-free Canadian coins:

Don't you just love it when the freedom-loving, free market-loving capitalists spend all their time trying to build monopolies and extinguish competition? MLB has to be fully aware of the huge difference in cable vs dish households--their strategy has to be to get people to turn to MLB-TV so that they're one click away from the 'SHOP' tab. In addition to the current disparity, there are real obstacles that prevent people from getting dishes, while cable is almost universally available throughout both the US and Canada. Everything points to the greedy bastards just wanting you to 'buy the gear'.

Not sure whether it's going to start this season, also unclear how it affects Canada. My understanding is that Bell and Star Choice split the dish market here, DirectTV is not allowed. Rogers and Cogeco both offer 'NFL Sunday Ticket', which is a dish exclusive in the States (I think). To be honest, I was surprised when Rogers started offering MLB-EI, since it allowed Canadian baseball fans to avoid his Jays and watch their own favourite for less than a buck a day (so I always figured it was one of those too-good-to-be-true deals). I guess those days are numbered. My apartment faces due north--so a dish is out--even if I wanted one. Looks like it's back to MLB-audio (another monopoly). I've snacked occasionally on MLB-TV just to look-see--the picture quality is pathetic. No thanks.

L-girl said...

They already did this in the Boston Area. Not changing stations, but taking every flippin' game except for the FOX national ones off the free airways.

They've done that in many areas. It sucks.

But this is different. This is people who already pay for cable in order to get their out-of-town team.

Of course it's all about the money - it's a business, it's supposed to be all about money! But why not make more money from more people subscribing to more providers? They are so short-sighted, it's ridiculous.

L-girl said...

bug-free Canadian coins

:-)

L-girl said...

Not changing stations

This isn't changing stations, by the way. It's changing providers. So everyone who doesn't live in the Boston area, who normally see the games on a cable package called Extra Innings, can no longer.

Just clarifying.

Jere said...

Good call by Danie. We should all remember that you have to pay anyway, just to get cable to get the games--IN NESN territory. Not everyone can afford cable TV. This and my earlier point about there being some people in New England can't get NESN no matter what, makes me realize we should take care of the locals first. And I'm a Sox fan living in NYC.

It's funny how no games being on free TV has become the norm to the point where we don't even think about protesting it anymore, when we still should be.

It's all a bunch of BS, though.

9casey said...

I'm in CT and can't get nesn or a dish(wooded area) I have been dealing with this for 5 years , calling the cable company , writing the paper, etc.....



Football is a different animal seeing the majority of there games are played one day a week, so direct tv becomes a great idea for their sport , but baseball when the schedule is varied (west coast and time zones, days off and daygames it is harder to get people to commit, also the fact that most baseball fans are regional, I am hard pressed to find , in my area, someone who is not either a red sox, yankee, or met fan.....

Even when mlb extra innings was offered through my cable syatem, I still got blacked out on all sox, yanks, and mets games......


I was at a Bruin game last night with 3 friends who still follow hockey with the dish.....I told them I was a big fan of both the celtics and the bruins back when cable was still like 40 channels.........WSBK 38 covered everything......then the discovery channel and lifetime came around and tv (for sports) went to hell and the bank...

Jackie said...

None of this is surprising, but it sucks. I was annoyed enough last year when they decided, two games into the season, that audio only (i.e., the WEEI feed) would no longer be part of the MLB.tv package. I was fairly livid when I discovered that no Saturday morning games would be shown on MLB.tv, despite the fact that very few FOX affiliates show more than one Saturday game (so the one day I really have time to kick back and enjoy the Sox game - albeit at 10am - I can't watch it).

I'm kind of hopeful that they'll improve the MLB.tv service now that more people will be migrating, but I'm not holding my breath.

We did the MLB.tv-to-actual TV thing a lot last year, and it works fine, although it's a little annoying to have to do it that way. Oh, and the picture quality is shit, too.

Zenslinger said...

Donovan writes about this on si.com:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/john_donovan/01/23/directv.extrainnings/index.html

L-girl said...

It's funny how no games being on free TV has become the norm to the point where we don't even think about protesting it anymore, when we still should be.

That is so true. When it first happened - when most games went to cable - I was so angry. We lived in Brooklyn and Brooklyn didn't even have cable at the time! Even if we had the money, which at the time we did not.

Then baseball on cable became the norm, and I stopped thinking it was wrong. But it is wrong, still.

To my mind, though, the exclusivity is what makes this so bad. Why should DirectTV's deal be more important than us? It smells very dirty. If we could follow the money trail, where would it lead?

9casey said...

Where would it lead.........That's not really a secret....Every team and owner and mlb will share in the revenues much like the NFL deal..

It ain't dirrrty it bidness and sometimes business looks real dirty and sometimes people get caught and sometimes they don't....

redsock said...

business

Of course it is.

And as I said to the guy at MLB's offices on the phone today, I want MLB to make as much $ as possible, I want the teams to make as much $ as possible and I want the players to make as much $ as possible. But MLB doesn't have to screw over the fans to make that $.

MLB holds all the cards. They have baseball -- and cable providers want to show it. So those companies should have to do whatever MLB says -- or get nothing.

Yet MLB consistently acts like it has no leverage when it comes to broadcasting. Instead of $100 million from one company, it could get $75 million each from two companies. If faced with a simple take it or leave it from MLB, I'm willing to bet the companies would take it.

9casey said...

If you had cable , in my area, last year you could get the pacakage, but nesn and sny were not available.I f I was able to get Direct TV I would have had all the games including nesn, so they did try both companies out, something must have went wrong with cable.

In short mlb extra innings was both on cable and direct tv last year and the years previous....

My opinion was cable cheapened up they always do that is why I don't have nesn...

What did the guy say from mlb?

redsock said...

The MLB guy didn't say anything. Just listened and took some notes on what I said (I could hear typing in the background).

The woman who answered when I called MLB's main number and asked to speak to someone about the proposed deal clearly had been fielding a lot of calls like this.

I made a point to say that for fans on the west coast who cannot get DirecTV, this proposed deal would mean that they would NEVER watch their team during the week since MLBtv is live and east coast games would start at 4pm PST.

He thanked me for calling and said that he could offer no comment on the ongoing negotiations. Which was both proper and exactly what I expected.

L-girl said...

Of course it's business. That's not the problem.

But you don't know if it's dirty anymore than I do. When somebody gets an exclusive deal - and on the surface it appears that they could make even more money if it were not exclusive - we should be suspicious.

L-girl said...

Where would it lead.........That's not really a secret....Every team and owner and mlb will share in the revenues much like the NFL deal..

That's not my point. Why does DirectTV get an exclusive deal? What's behind the negotiations for that? You don't know the answer, and neither do I. MLB is under no obligation to tell us.

Although, damn, I would know a lot more if I still lived in NYC. I used to work for the law firm that negotiated these contracts.