I'm probably not very popular with MLB today. It's ironic in the sense that I've recently received a couple of emails in which there were claims that Selig must be my "hero". OK, for the most part I've been happy with MLB. Labor peace can make a man crazy, and so, cart me off to the asylum, I'm guilty of seeing the glass more than half full with the National Pastime, it's almost full to the brim.
While I'm mostly happy with MLB, the restrictive nature of how MLB chooses to show out-of-market games has me scratching my head, and worse for those at 245 Park, it's made many fans angry: scratch that, outraged.
Today brought a sea of emails to my in-box over my latest Baseball Prospectus article (The Ledger Domain: The Monopolizing of MLB's Extra Innings Package). Here's the crib notes version: MLB is in advanced discussions with DirecTV to make them the exclusive carrier of MLB Extra Innings. In more detail, I write:
Last summer, I wrote in Blackout Blues how MLB’s arcane territorial television broadcast system restricts consumer options for those that wish to see MLB games out-of-market through MLB.com or MLB Extra Innings. Now, MLB may be creating even more restraints on consumers.
John Orerand and Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal have reported that MLB is in advanced talks with DirecTV to make the satellite television company the exclusive provider of MLB Extra Innings. While Extra Innings was initially only offered on DirecTV in 1996, the package has been available on cable since 2001, and on Dish Network since 2004.
I then close by saying:
If you've been watching Extra Innings on cable, you'll need to hold off until you see whether this deal goes the DirecTV route. You may have to start finding a nice place to mount that dish on your house.
As a great many of those who wrote me asked: Why didn't you cover all of us that can't get DirecTV due to dish installation restrictions in our apartments, townhouses, and urban locations? Fair enough... What about that?
Some may claim that there should not be government restrictions on how products are delivered. As one reader mentioned, "If a company that makes golf clubs doesn't wish to sell its product in a big-box retailer, they're within their rights." True, but then we're not talking golf clubs, we're talking about a product delivered to homes. I can always get golf clubs. Many will be unable to get DirecTV at their homes, and be totally blacked out.
One reader suggested that it was a strategy to get people to use MLB.TV and Mosaic. Maybe. Still, by the level of anger within the scores of emails that I've received on MLB's black out policy and now this possible twist, many are going to tune off... period.
OTHER EXTRA INNINGS ONLY ON DIRECTV ARTICLES ON BIZ OF BASEBALL (from oldest to newest)
Maury Brown is the founder of The Biz of Baseball and an author for Baseball Prospectus. He can be contacted here.