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MLB Nears Controversial Deal With DirecTV

Old 03-04-07, 07:24 PM
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MLB Nears Controversial Deal With DirecTV

Interesting.
MLB Nears Controversial Deal With DirecTV
By ADAM THOMPSON
March 4, 2007 6:35 p.m.

Major League Baseball is nearing completion of a controversial $700 million deal with satellite purveyor DirecTV Group Inc. to exclusively air its out-of-market package of games for the next seven years. For baseball, the deal may be worth the controversy, because DirecTV is throwing in a valuable sweetener -- it is guaranteeing distribution for a TV network that MLB plans to start in 2009.

The proposed deal has upset fans and aroused opposition in Washington because it will disenfranchise an estimated 230,000 fans who previously watched the out-of-market games package -- known as Extra Innings -- on either DirecTV's satellite rival EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish network or on cable services. People use Extra Innings to watch teams in markets other than their own. If the deal goes through, fans will have to either switch to DirecTV or pay a fee to watch on MLB's Web site.

Though small, the opposition group is vocal. In Washington, Sen. John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat -- perhaps catering to members of the Red Sox Nation fan base who live outside New England -- has called for hearings. At his prompting, the Federal Communications Commission has said it will look at the deal. In a telephone interview, Sen. Kerry warns: "If they're going to rush ahead here without being sensitive to the FCC review process, that would certainly invite a number of us here to have a number of concerns."

DirecTV has nearly 16 million subscribers. The satellite firm is offering to increase significantly the money MLB now earns for Extra Innings. But more important than the money is DirecTV's willingness to guarantee broadcast of baseball's planned new TV channel to all homes it serves.

That distribution is crucial to the new network's prospects, since many cable operators have taken a hard-line position on carrying new channels. That's why baseball executives aren't concerned that the furor over the current deal will hurt their chances of getting cable operators to carry the new channel, says a person familiar with the situation. Indeed, while cable operators sent a late counteroffer to MLB on Feb. 22, their prospects for success look dim, said people familiar with the situation. As of late last week, the cable group was still waiting to hear back from baseball.

The deal highlights the changing competitive dynamics of the television industry. After years of taking customers from cable, satellite firms' growth has slowed as cable operators have begun marketing video services packaged with telephone and high-speed Internet services -- something satellite can't match. DirecTV's response has been to amass sports programs that can't be seen elsewhere. It has long had exclusive packages of National Football League games and other sports.

"Unique and compelling content presented in an attractive package will help DirecTV compete against cable bundling," wrote DirecTV CEO Chase Carey in a letter to the FCC on Friday. DirecTV is partly owned by News Corp., although the media company has agreed to sell its stake to Liberty Media Corp.

The deal has implications for other players in the sports world. The NFL likely isn't thrilled that the deal is putting the spotlight on exclusive sports arrangements, says Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett, adding that the political risk is "astronomical."

Some constituencies could benefit. Baseball owners with underperforming teams may see a bump in audiences for their teams, as viewers who might have watched a better out-of-market game switch to the local team. That same dynamic could help the regional sports cable networks which carry many local team games.

Write to Adam Thompson at [email protected]
Old 03-04-07, 07:29 PM
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These sorts of arrangements are bullshit. I hate them for the NFL and I will for MLB. It's not good for the game or consumers.
Old 03-04-07, 07:32 PM
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An MLB channel? Sounds good.
Old 03-04-07, 09:03 PM
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Supposedly other cable carriers (Comcast, Cox) are promising to carry the MLB channel as well to try to break up this deal. I doubt either could plunk down the kind of money DirecTV is to make it exclusive, though.
Old 03-04-07, 11:04 PM
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I don't see the need for a MLB channel since if you had Extra Innings you would never watch that channel anyways.The NFL Network is a total waste since ESPN overkills the NFL enough as it is.Having exculsive rights will cut down fan interest and then they will turn to other things for entertainment.Thats all baseball needs after having the lowest rated World Series ever.
Old 03-05-07, 05:10 PM
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OK, Bud's said/done some stupid things in the past, but my God:

"I've heard for years we have too much product out there," Selig said.

"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.
Sooooo, Bud........if you think you have too much product out there already, what makes you think that ANYONE would want to order Extra Innings? I mean, why even make it available in the first place?
Old 03-05-07, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Deftones
Supposedly other cable carriers (Comcast, Cox) are promising to carry the MLB channel as well to try to break up this deal. I doubt either could plunk down the kind of money DirecTV is to make it exclusive, though.
why so comcast can just drop the channel after a year or add it to its 'premium' service, fuck that!
Old 03-05-07, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Jobronie
OK, Bud's said/done some stupid things in the past, but my God:

Sooooo, Bud........if you think you have too much product out there already, what makes you think that ANYONE would want to order Extra Innings? I mean, why even make it available in the first place?

Bud is an idiot. He also said in another interview that 5,000 people would be effected. There were about a quarter-million cable subscribers last year. I guess he assumes that 245,000 of those subscribers can easily get DTV. Here is a guy who must have never set foot in a densely populated urban area.
Old 03-05-07, 05:31 PM
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No market that has less than 400 - 500 televised games? Huh? I know I get almost all my market's games, and the ones on WGN, ESPN, TBS (although I think the Braves are done on there) and Fox saturday baseball. I'd say that's maybe 250 - 300, not 400 - 500.

I think the EI thing is beneficial for those that follow teamst that aren't in their market. Plus you get more HD content. I'm on the fence now that my RSN carries games in HD as does one of the local channels.

Originally Posted by Bell65
why so comcast can just drop the channel after a year or add it to its 'premium' service, fuck that!
Rumors are that is one of the negotiating points for MLB. Put it on a basic service, not a premium sports pack like some cable carriers do with NFL Network.
Old 03-05-07, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Jobronie
OK, Bud's said/done some stupid things in the past, but my God:

Sooooo, Bud........if you think you have too much product out there already, what makes you think that ANYONE would want to order Extra Innings? I mean, why even make it available in the first place?
The problem is not many people order EI. And, as much I do not agree with Selig, there IS plenty of BB on TV.

What I do not understand is limiting your audience. But then again, like I said, 200,000 is not really that much of an audience to argue about - what I hate is the FOX contract.
Old 03-05-07, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Flashback
The problem is not many people order EI. And, as much I do not agree with Selig, there IS plenty of BB on TV.

What I do not understand is limiting your audience. But then again, like I said, 200,000 is not really that much of an audience to argue about - what I hate is the FOX contract.

Yeah, but does MLB really want to alienate their most loyal fans? I don't think it makes good long term sense to do so.

It is not the like the NFL, which could kick their fans in the nads and they would still keep coming back.
Old 03-05-07, 05:39 PM
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I have to say a MLB channel makes more sense to me then NFL Network.
Old 03-05-07, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Spicollidriver1
I have to say a MLB channel makes more sense to me then NFL Network.

Now this I agree with assuming they carry a significant number of games.
Old 03-05-07, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
Yeah, but does MLB really want to alienate their most loyal fans? I don't think it makes good long term sense to do so.
Honestly - they don't care. - does it make sense to me? No. But it is a business and they are doing what 'they' think is correct. Maybe it is - I don't know.

But can you, and I am thinking we are near the same age, have enjoyed the game with just locals? And moving forward with TBS and WGN? I remember Sat. game of the week of ANY team. Now it's your local team. Well, I see them almost everyday of the week - grrrr - that was how I learned, or saw, other players.

How about when the Yankees said screw you to all their fans and did not broadcast their games for a year on Cablevision?

Still - I think it is fckd up for people who would pay for it and cannot. However, there is plenty of baseball available on TV. The majority are not losing out on this deal.

Last edited by Flashback; 03-05-07 at 05:53 PM.
Old 03-05-07, 05:57 PM
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Oh I agree they don't care. They are going for the short term cash by going with DTV. Long term, I think this is a very bad idea.

Assuming I really cared (since I am an Orioles fan there is no point), then I would be fine living in DC with MASN - in fact, in this area, we'll get far more games than anyone else does locally. Frankly, I felt well-served with local O's games, ESPN and NBC/FOX in the 80-90s.

However, had I been a die-hard fan (living where I live now and where I have lived recently) of some team besides the O's or Nats and were relying on EI on cable, I would be extremely pissed off right now. Then you have real die-hards who will watch multiple games in an evening (like I do with college hoops).

Basically Selig is telling these folks: a) move or b) sign up for our internet service with significantly inferior quality.

Last edited by Red Dog; 03-05-07 at 06:00 PM.
Old 03-06-07, 05:59 PM
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Some industry mag called Dealerscope says:

The exclusive deal had been rumored for months but was officially acknowledged for the first time by both parties on Monday.
I haven't seen a single report (WSJ, bizofbaseball, ESPN, etc.) that says MLB has confirmed the deal, so I wonder where they got their acknowledgment........

link

EDIT: reading thru the piece again, it never states that MLB confirmed a done-deal. Good possibility they are reporting on MLB confirming that they are IN TALKS with Directv for an exclusive deal, which MLB has indeed done.

Last edited by Jobronie; 03-06-07 at 06:32 PM.
Old 03-06-07, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Jobronie
Some industry mag called Dealerscope says:

I haven't seen a single report (WSJ, bizofbaseball, ESPN, etc.) that says MLB has confirmed the deal, so I wonder where they got their acknowledgment........

link
Well, as I said business is business, but I hate the fact that if I had cable I would be very angry about this. Especially if I was a previous subscriber. I still think (which is much more popular) that the Sunday Ticket , on DTV for football, should be available to anyone that wants it. I just don't understand.
Old 03-07-07, 10:03 PM
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All I care about is NBA League Pass and ESPN Center Court. Since both of these can be had on Dish Network, I'm a happy camper/consumer.
Old 03-08-07, 09:06 AM
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Baseball deal with DirecTV 'imminent'
Despite recent counteroffers, satellite provider is about to gain exclusivity to Extra Innings package.
By Larry Stewart, Times Staff Writer March 8, 2007

A proposed deal by Major League Baseball that would give its Extra Innings pay package exclusively to DirecTV "is imminent," according to two sources close to the negotiations, and could be announced as soon as today.

The deal, in which DirecTV would pay MLB $100 million a year over seven years, has been mired in controversy since it was first reported in January. But with opening day only a few weeks away, there is a growing sense of urgency.

Meanwhile, another source close to the negotiations said 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."
Link


Nothing official but this is the latest I have seen re: this. What is 'funny' is that it seems that ID and/or E* matched DTV's offer but were still turned down.
Old 03-08-07, 09:34 AM
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I don't believe this for a second:

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.
Especially because of the way it was buried in the article.....

Last edited by Jobronie; 03-08-07 at 09:46 AM.
Old 03-08-07, 09:46 AM
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What does EI cost?
Old 03-08-07, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by SonOfAStu
What does EI cost?
Last year, it ran anywhere from $129-199, but most folks paid in the $149-179 range. Another consideration is you have to upgrade to digital cable, which is at least another $10/month plus STB rentals.

There has been NO info what it'll run this year....
Old 03-08-07, 10:57 AM
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Hm, I would have been interested if it was less than MLB.tv but I guess it's not. I would rather have the convenience of being able to watch all the games, even when I'm at work.
Old 03-08-07, 02:06 PM
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Presser called for 4:15 today.

skyreport.com:

BREAKING NEWS: DIRECTV/MLB Announcement Today
DIRECTV and Major League Baseball plan on making a "major joint announcement" today at 4:15 p.m. ET. Although not specified, it is widely believed that the two groups will confirm their much-hyped agreement giving DIRECTV exclusive carriage rights to the league's out-of-market programming package, MLB Extra Innings.

Among those scheduled to make the announcement are MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, MLB President Bob DuPuy, MLB EVP for business Tim Brosnan and DIRECTV's Carey.
Old 03-08-07, 05:30 PM
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Deal is non-exclusive. From reading is, as long as Dish or Cable providers provide as much content as DirecTV, it will remain non-exclusive.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/press_releas...=.jsp&c_id=mlb

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix....143&highlight=

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