Back in February of this year, Verizon posted the following message titled “MLB Coming to FiOS, Mom and Apple Pie Rejoice!” on their Policy Blog:
Reader Phil writes to tell us that he’s not receiving all the channels he paid for when he signed up with MLB Extra Innings with his Massachusetts Comcast franchise:As of today, 4/20/07, Comcast has refused to give us the full 15 channels in my area, and I am not alone.
IN DEMAND also offered to make the Extra Innings subscription package available to other cable companies across the United States, MLB said. These operators also would be required to carry the MLB Channel once launched.
Cable and Satellite companies are in the midst of a battle to attract and retain the lucrative customers who subscribe to out-of-market sports packages. DirecTV and MLB recently came to an agreement that would allow DirecTV exclusive rights to offer the “Extra Innings” out-of-market baseball package. Cable companies are fighting the deal, even arguing their case before a couple senators. So far, DirecTV’s deal stands and Cablevision is fighting back by offering to compensate former “Extra Innings” customers with a credit towards MLB’s online service MLB.TV. A few shocked readers forwarded the email, which we’ve reproduced inside. The deal is only for customers who subscribed to “Extra Innings” last year. —MEGHANN MARCO
Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., had questions for Major League Baseball and DirecTV at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on behalf of subscribers to cable TV and EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network who are threatened by the DirecTV-only “Extra Innings” deal.
For baseball, the deal may be worth the controversy because DirecTV is throwing in a valuable sweetener — guaranteeing distribution for a TV network MLB plans to start in 2009, the Journal reported.
John Kerry has released a letter from FCC chairman Kevin Martin announcing an investigation into a proposed deal that would give DirecTV exclusive rights to broadcast “Extra Innings,” a package which currently allows out-of-market baseball fans to watch their home team via cable or satellite. DirecTV has the exclusive rights to a similar package, “NFL Sunday Ticket.” That deal is not being investigated, sadly.
Those of us who are fans of an out-of-market NFL team know the pain: Unless you have enough cash to go to a bar every Sunday for 3 hours, you pretty much have to get DirecTV and NFL Sunday Ticket. Could this monopoly be coming to Major League Baseball?