I’m trying to recall a baseball related topic recently that has raised blood pressure levels higher than the one involving the proposed deal to make DirecTV the sole outlet for watching MLB Extra Innings. Not even the issue steroids has created such venom, it seems. Maybe it’s the proposed deal when tied to the arcane black out policy. Maybe it’s the idea that some won’t have access to DirecTV (if you live in Canada, apparently this is the case). Maybe it’s the idea of forcing customers into a technology as opposed to offering it up as an option. What ever the case may be, people are angry.
Doing a wholly unscientific polling of the topic, I’m finding that the vast majority of fans are either A) Angry, or B) So angry that they want to give MLB a piece of their mind. Few seem to be rolling with it.
The deal, when completed, will start in 2007. That’s right, this coming season.
There is still some confusion over what cable offered in response to the DirecTV deal. The figure “$70 million” has been reported, but it’s not clear if that was an annual figure, and it’s still unknown what the number of years being offered in the deal, etc.
The second point listed has implications as to why MLB might go down this road. If cable didn’t offer up many years, and/or far less money, you might see the reasoning (emphasis on MIGHT).
While having an exclusive agreement for MLB Extra Innings to only be on DirecTV, and therefore disenfranchising a large part of the possible viewing market is something that will raise the ire of some in Congress, I don’t know if it’s enough to get them actively engaged in anti-trust discussions of any seriousness. For one, there is the option of MLB.TV, so fans can at least watch online. While this is hardly an exceptional alternate solution, it is, none the less, a solution.
Joe Sheehan touched on this matter as well last week, and his take is decidedly more in-favor of the deal than I. And that, folks, is the way it should be here at BP: differing opinions.