Earlier this week, we talked about what the future of baseball's national TV contracts might look like. Here's a glance at their past.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
Earlier this week, Maury Brownexamined the future of baseball's national TV contracts. For a look at its past, revisit the piece reproduced below, which was originally published as a "The Imbalance Sheet" column on September 28, 2000.
Will MLB.tv ever make your home team's games available for web viewing?
Living in the future has its advantages. Back when I was a kid, in the late Pleistocene, catching a ballgame remotely meant either watching your local teams on TV or, if you were away from your living room, listening on the radio; maybe if you were very lucky and it was late at night and the ionosphere was aligned just right, you might be able to just barely tune in something that might possibly be Ernie Harwell on an out-of-town broadcast. Today, anyone with $99.99 burning a hole in their credit card ($119.99 if you want DVR-style gewgaws like fast-forward and rewind) can sign up for MLB.tv and watch any game, whether spring training, regular season, or postseason, on their computer, iPad, smartphone, or PlayStation 3—I'm sure that right this moment someone somewhere at MLB Advanced Media is working on an app that will stream hi-def baseball video live to the dashboard display of your flying car, just as soon as those are invented.
Any game, that is, unless it's one involving your local team. In that case, you're still stuck with 20th-century technology, and either tethered to your TV or forced to stick with audio. Any attempt to do otherwise will result in that dreaded message familiar to MLB.tv users: "We're sorry. Due to your current location you are blacked out of watching the game you have selected...."
A conversation with the journeyman about the minors, indie ball, the business of baseball, and more.
Jon Searles is unique. Originally an eighth-round pick by Pittsburgh in 1999, Searles attended Penn while pitching in the Pirates, Expos, and Cubs organizations, earning a finance degree from the Wharton School of Business when he wasn't on the mound. Now, after his fourth consecutive season in Double-A, his career is at a crossroads. David talked to Searles about where his career has been, where he sees it going, and how he views the game on both a personal and a business level.
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Will it feed fan passions, or will a business decision cool their jets?
I bring all of this up now because for the better part of a month I have been immersed in research and correspondence with those who will be impacted by MLB's decision to make Extra Innings available only on DirecTV, and also discussing MLB's move with those that work in sports business or cover it from an analysis perspective. With the exception of three emails received, the fans that contacted me are flaming mad with the deal, and wish to still get out-of-market games through the existing carriers like cable and Echo Star's Dish Network, which will be dropped in America when the new deal is announced. (I will get to Canada shortly.)
The Orioles forget to look at the sell-by date, the Blue Jays lock up their franchise player, the Devil Rays move stealthily along at the bottom, and those two other teams bring Japanese players to America for Christmas.
Maury sorts through what has spurred on an already-wild winter market.
At the end of a particularly difficult college philosophy course, a professor warned the students of the difficult final that would be approaching them. "It will count greatly toward your grade," he noted. As the day of the test arrived, a tense air filled the classroom as the test was passed amongst the students. "You have the entire class to answer the final. Now, turn over your paper and begin." When the paper was turned over, there was simply one question… Why?
The second column of MLB's financial disclosures sets forth each club's
purported revenues from local television, radio, and cable contracts. As the
table below shows, media revenues are heavily affected by the size of a
club's local market. For example, the Mets and Diamondbacks have identical
media contracts on a per capita basis, but because the New York metropolitan
area is so much larger, the Mets gross $32 million more.