It's Mets For Me: Off-Beat, Tangentially Relevant Mets Ruminations

Off Base Since 2005! Mets commentary from the counter-intuitive to the unintuitive and all the intuitives in between. ** "Through the use of humor and gross inaccuracy...a certain truth can be gained." Rob Perri ** (pester me at:itsmetsforme@gmail.com or follow me @itsmetsforme on twitter)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

MLB HOW COULD YOU?

If this morning 's report in the New York Times is correct, then there are dark days ahead for out-of-town Mets fans, not to mention all baseball lovers. Richard Sandomir is reporting that MLB is on the cusp of signing over exclusive rights to the lifeblood of baseball, the "Extra-Innings" package to Direct TV, a satellite dish provider, for $700 million for 7 years. This means that those of us without dishes are screwed. That would be me--my apartment complex will not allow me to install a dish so I can only get cable. It also means that the only way for dishless to see out of market games is to pony up for MLB's spotty mlb.tv service--those without broadband are totally screwed. That would be me again.

I don't have to explain how devastating this news is. No Mets for me.

If the numbers in the report are correct, I don't understand MLB's long range planning here. I only see that it is heartless and shortsighted. Direct TV is available to 15 million subscribers while in the past 75 million cable subscribers had access, in addition to the dish people. This is a major betrayal to a lot of people, particularly those who aren't just casual fans, but who are rabid enough to follow and inconveniently located team, and to enjoy access to all the other games too.

If this goes through, the brand is dead to me. It effectively "NHL's" the MLB.

Along with outrageous ticket and parking prices, this move adds to the exclusivity of the MLB experience. Beware the sage Yogi Berra who (paraphrased) warned that MLB could become a place that "Nobody goes anymore because it's too exclusive."

MLB's customer service number is 866-800-1275. If it is even in service, I urge all fans to give it a call and register their disappointment.

Below I reprint the details of the article:

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.

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