March 9, 2007

MLB, DirecTV Finalize Deal

MLB and DirecTV have finalized their seven-year, $700 million agreement, but it will not be exclusive. Not literally, anyway.

Other cable providers can carry the "Extra Innings" package if they
enter into an agreement with MLB based on the terms agreed to by DirecTV, which would include the same rates and carriage requirements.

According to the Associated Press, however, the president of iN Demand, Robert Jacobson, said the agreement would be impossible for his company, calling it a "de facto exclusive deal."
Bud Selig -- displaying those superlative people skills for which he is reknown -- was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying the controversy over the deal is "ridiculous".

Ridiculous. There are thousands of Red Sox fans outside of New England that, for whatever reason, cannot get DirecTV. They will not be able to watch their team this summer. And the commissioner of baseball thinks their concern about that is "ridiculous".

The Times also reported that
a recent counteroffer by In Demand — the cable pay package provider that shared the rights to Extra Innings for the last five seasons — plus one by satellite provider EchoStar, which owns Dish Network, "came too late in the game." ...

According to a company spokesperson, the In Demand offer matched or exceeded DirecTV's offer, including financial terms of the deal as well as distribution of the new Baseball Channel, scheduled to be launched in 2009. Distribution of this channel is believed to be the crux of the issue for MLB.

Robert Jacobson, president and chief executive of In Demand, said the proposed MLB deal "is stunning in its disregard for baseball fans."
We have MLB saying two things: any matching offers must be received by the end of March and a matching offer from early March came in "too late".

Again, I have to ask: What is the REAL reason MLB is turning down more money while limiting the number of fans that can watch games?

Call: 212-931-7800

Just got off the phone with MLB. The person listening to complaints confirmed that other cable companies do indeed have until the end of the month to match DirecTV's offer, but was "unaware" of the LA Times story mentioning the In Demand offer that was rejected as "too late".

Updated: Richard Sandomir's article in the New York Times mentions MLB is giving cable operators and Dish Network until March 31 to match the deal.
Baseball is trying to put [InDemand and Dish] on the defensive, telling them they can choose to be good guys or bad guys depending on their decisions. Baseball wants to shed the image that it was guilty of making Extra Innings less available to its fans, so it is bringing InDemand and Dish back for a final lightning round.

And it wants Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, off its back, and the F.C.C., which is looking into the deal, to go away quickly.

This, quite clearly, is not over.
I believe the deal also has to be approved by the owners, so pressure could be put on them as well.


Jere said...

I'm so confused. So InDemand did make a matching offer? But yet they still won't be involved in the deal? I just don't get it. I do know this, about Selig's comment: I think rich people are on such a different level from that of the common person. They have everything they want; they have all the latest technology and just assume everyone's got access to everything like they do. "Oh, I have to do this to get this, fine, here's the money." But we can't all do that. We have landlords who don't let us get dishes. Or, we have kids to feed and medical bills and the rent to pay even if we are allowed to get their product. A maximum wage in this country would fix all of this.

L-girl said...

Pressure, pressure, pressure. Keep it up, boys and girls.

Woti-woti said...

Buried in all this is MLB's assertion that fans can always access the games on MLB-TV, as if it were comparable to television. It's far from it.
I sprung for a March rental just to watch the available Sox' spring games, and the product is pathetic. Apart from picture quality, the freqent stutters and occasional freeze-ups drive you nuts. Plus, when the season gets rolling, I defy anyone to try between-innings samples of other games. They're not just a remote click away. If your cable monopoly gave you this quality of reception, you'd scream for a refund. If it was your TV's fault, you'd throw the damn thing out.

L-girl said...

And, as Redsock always reminds us, MLB-TV can't be taped or Tivo'd. So as pathetic as it is, it can only be used by fans living in the same time zone as the team. Unless they're unemployed, in which case they probably can't afford it.

Devine said...

Well, I believe MLB games are archived soon (a few hours) after they are aired on MLB.TV and can be watched start to finish by subscribers even days or months later. No way does that justify what MLB's doing (it's hurting me as much as anyone), I'm just saying. It's NOT like you can watch it as soon as the game's over, and you'd probably have to wait till next morning in most cases.

I do not think a maximum wage would solve these problems...but I'd be happy to take another 5-10% out of the extremely rich people's salaries (say anyone making over $800k/year), though, and fund several things that way (I'll be happy to comply if I ever enter this tax bracket). Universal health care, for instance. Oh wait, the extremely rich fund politicians and their policy. Guess not.

redsock said...


the new improved picture quality will be when the regular season starts -- according to a rep i spoke with.

i am curious to see the difference since i'll be watching up to 3 games a week at work.