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Monday, January 22, 2007

MLB Appears Ready to Further Screw its Fan Base

As reported by The Biz of Baseball and Maury Brown at Baseball Prospectus, Major League Baseball and Direct TV appear close to signing an agreement valued at somewhere near $700 million over seven years, with said agreement making Direct TV the exclusive home for the MLB Extra Innings package and eventually (in 2009) the 24-hour MLB channel. This would result in all cable or Dish Network subscribers being left out of the market for the MLB EI package, a move that unquestionably cements baseball's reputation as money-hungry sport that is repeatedly willing to ditch its fans in search of another dollar.

As Brown writes and as I, a consistent MLB EI subscriber, can personally attest, the MLB EI package already has a significant flaw in that its blackout rules prevent a MLB EI subscriber from watching games involving those teams which are geographically local to his registered address. This ridiculous rule prevents me from being able to watch any games included in the MLB EI package that involve the Astros or the Rangers. Now it appears that as a Dish Network subscriber, I am likely going to get the knife twisted just a little bit deeper starting this season, as I am simply going to be disqualified from the potential subscriber base for the MLB EI package since I am not a Direct TV subscriber. This is just the latest example of why Richard Justice is an idiot. Bud Selig is obviously a popular commissioner in the eyes of his fellow owners and the players, who are both stuffing bills in their pants like a ten-armed Sandy Berger, but the ever-loyal fans of America's Pasttime continue to get taken out behind the woodshed and beaten relentlessly. Justice fails to understand that the success of a sport like baseball must be measured in a much broader context than simple gross revenue flow; in the eyes of its fans, the sport is dying a painful death, and unless a commissioner is brought in who is a pure, true fan of the sport itself rather than the money that flows from it, it may be too late to hope for a successful ressucitation.

UPDATE: Deadspin has now got a post on this story as well.

5 Comments:

Blogger Bouj said...

Richard Justice is an idiot? No way.

I'm a cable subscriber (can't wait for our new Comcast overlords!), and I've at least mulled the idea of dish before. My question about the MLB EI blackouts: are Astros and Rangers games are blacked-out only if they are on a national broadcast (like FOX Saturday)? I mean, I can watch every Astros game right now just from FSN, ESPN, and FOX because I live in Houston, and I couldn't even pretend to give a crap about the Rangers. Or does that black-out rule mean I can ONLY watch the local teams on the FOX Saturday broadcasts? Would I be hosed if I wanted to watch one of the other FOX Saturday games?

Tue Jan 23, 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Infotech said...

TWC makes me mad, especially when it comes to HD content. Last night a Dallas Mavericks game on FSN HD was blacked out, and wasn’t shown on any other channel in standard definition. What is the point of that? Nobody wins. The cable company gets pissed off customers, the advertisers of the game lose, and the NBA looks like a bunch of jack asses. Last year the same thing happened with Texas Ranger and Astros games on the same channel. A couple of Astro's games that were on ESPN HD were also blacked out and only shown on FSN standard def. It's too the point that if I hadn't spent so much on an HDTV last year I'd be canceling cable.

I don't understand that BS at all. If a game is on in HD they should be showing it HD seeing that you pay a premium price for those channels.

Wed Jan 24, 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Bouj, I'm a bit confused by your question, but the major blackout issue is that any games on MLB EI that would be involving either the Rangers or the Astros are blacked out on the MLB EI. You can still watch them on FSN if they're being broadcast there. As for Saturdays, the slate of games is always much, much less on MLB EI on Saturdays, which I understand to be attributed to Fox's agreement with MLB.

Wed Jan 24, 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger Bouj said...

It was poorly worded on my part. I understand the whole thing with Astros games during the week. The second question I asked, does the territorial blackout rule mean I can only watch the Astros/Rangers games on FOX Saturday Baseball instead of any other game, is more to what I wanted to know.

Since FOX doesn't really bother to show much baseball before August/September, I want to know if the Twins and Tigers have a big match-up at Comerica opposite the Astros and a dead-in-the-water Cubs team, would MLB EI blackout the Twins/Tigers game since FOX 26 is going to be showing the Astros?

Thu Jan 25, 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Since FOX doesn't really bother to show much baseball before August/September, I want to know if the Twins and Tigers have a big match-up at Comerica opposite the Astros and a dead-in-the-water Cubs team, would MLB EI blackout the Twins/Tigers game since FOX 26 is going to be showing the Astros?

I believe the answer to this question is "No". In my experience, only the local teams are 'blacked-out'. It's just that Saturday's seem to include less games on the MLB EI package, which I've read correlates, at least indirectly, to Fox's national coverage.

Thu Feb 01, 02:49:00 PM  

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