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Yankee Panky Takes on Opening Day...Sort Of
2007-04-03 09:46
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

By Will Weiss
Bronx Banter Correspondent

Since watching the Yankees is no longer my job, I, like many of you, resorted to DVRing the game and watching a three-hour telecast in 12 minutes. However, I did watch all the Geico caveman commercials. They kill me. (Non sequitur alert: I read where ABC is planning a pilot based on the Geico Cavemen. Can cavemen hurdle sharks?)

Back to the point of this bonus entry…What do we make of the Opening Day coverage? As of this writing, the papers hadn't updated their Web sites to reflect postgame coverage, save for the AP recaps, and Opening Day blogs from Newsday and the Star-Ledger.

My commentary here is a brief scan of the highlights and lowlights of the Opening Day TV, and cyberspace.

TV * YES' telecast started well enough, until the question "How do you follow the Yankees from Iraq" was asked to some soldiers in attendance. As for the Cory Lidle factor, it would have been easy to overplay the emotions of the first-pitch ceremony, with Lidle's wife, Melanie, and son Christopher, throwing out the first pitch. The subtle route was the way to go. The look on Jason Giambi's face conveyed everything.

* I don't have the broadcaster lineup taped above my desk anymore, but I'd guess the trio of Kay, Singleton and Girardi will be a common and formidable one throughout the season. Bobby Murcer's third-inning appearance was a welcome sight. And he sounds as healthy as ever.

* Expect more gems from Joe Girardi like this postgame nugget: "Pavano needs to make adjustments the third time through the order, because the Devil Ray hitters adjusted to him."

* New feature: Text messaging for the player of the game.

* Oops: YES misspelled Carl Crawford's last name as he strode to the plate for his at-bat in the top of the seventh. It's Opening Day for everyone. The Yankees got away with three errors, right?

* I'd have more on ESPN, but I couldn't stay up for the 1 a.m. Baseball Tonight. Florida's win dominated Sportscenter for the last hour.

CYBERSPACE

* Sticking with YES, YESNetwork.com produced four written pieces on the game plus a preview column from Jonah Keri and the patented season-introducing blog from Steven Goldman. But where the site could become a staple for Yankee fans is on the multimedia side. PostGame Plus featured Bob Lorenz reviewing the highlights and introducing interviews with Joe Torre and Carl Pavano in a concise, 3-5 minute package. In addition, two separate game highlights, the postgame podcast, and the Opening Day player introductions were made available.

* Yankees.com mirrored YES' coverage in terms of story angles (Bernie Williams calling Joe Torre, A-Rod's day), but due to their rightsholders' status, was able to show a greater variety of highlights.

* Larry Mahnken's hilarious game blog is worth a read at replacementlevel.com. If you're interested in the ESPN analysis, check out his barbs.

* Newsday's Opening Day blog was long but well constructed, with stories about fans in attendance woven into the game fabric. The Star Ledger's bloggers, on the other hand, seemed to make their entry more about them than the game, making it come off like a poor imitation of a Bill Simmons diary.
For example … "1:37: Michael Bloomberg, Donald Trump, and Rudy Giuliani are at this game. The world's business has stopped.

"1:37: No, seriously, are there even any businesses still open in New York with those three at the game?

"1:37: Kazmir finally escapes this inning (35 pitches total) when Posada pops out. 2-0 Yanks.

1:42: Um, Joe? Coach Torre? This is your favorite resident bloggers. Just one question: didi you work on defense in spring training at all? Simple ground ball to shortstop, and the Captain throws it past Josh Phelps. Kruk is blaming it on Phelps, but that was a really bad throw. Rays have a runner at second with one out and former Yankee prospect Dioner Navarro at the plate.
I'll leave the comments about the 1:42 entry to you guys." (Never mind the spelling and grammar. "Coach" Torre?)

* A strong inning-by-inning account from the boys at Bronx Block, plus observations from Bronx Cheer. The last bullet point (re: Giambi's postgame interview with Kim Jones) is the most intriguing.

AROUND THE PAPERS (PREGAME STORIES WORTH MENTIONING)

* Credit the Journal News for two unique stories: 1) Peter Abraham's take on this season possibly being the true beginning of the end for the Yankees. 2) Brian Heyman's notes on Andy Pettitte serving as a mentor to Carl Pavano.

* Joel Sherman's open letter to A-Rod, imploring him to enjoy himself this year. Based on Monday's outing, I give it two weeks or less before a column appears somewhere describing Doug Mientkiewicz's effect on A-Rod's psyche, and how their friendship, which goes back to their days as high school football teammates, is inspiring confidence in A-Rod.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I kind of started like a moron there." – the inimitable A-Rod, commenting on his first-inning error, which he atoned for with his game-icing two-run home run.

Overall Opening Day Media Grade: B (I guess the papers can't release stories online before the final editions go to press.)

The rest of this space is all yours. Until next Monday...

Comments (74)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-04-03 09:58:55
1.   mehmattski
So. Much. Awesome. Content. Can't. Type. More. Than. One. Word. Setences.

Bronx. Banter. Is. Amazing.

2007-04-03 10:06:29
2.   Alex Belth
Thanks, man. Believe me, Cliff and I are just as pleased as you are.
2007-04-03 10:13:06
3.   JasonO
Everywhere I go,
there's always something to remind me,
of another place in time...
2007-04-03 10:13:21
4.   Bob Timmermann
How does anyone keep track of which combo of YES announcer is being used for any one game? I tried to determine a pattern one year, but I eventually had to send my info over to the boys at the NSA to decipher it.

Then I started pasting all the combos over the walls of my apartment and I started seeing patterns like Russell Crowe did in "A Beautiful Mind."

Then Jennifer Connelly walked in...

Then I woke up.

2007-04-03 10:14:54
5.   Shaun P
2 Thanks to you and Cliff both, Alex - a photo essay, Cliff's classic recap, Emma and now Will - what more could a fan ask for on a day off?
2007-04-03 10:28:32
6.   weeping for brunnhilde
Just gotta say, I really, really like Girardi up there. He brings a whole lot to the broadcast.

Did you hear him talking about catching a pop-up from the catcher's position? It was so nice and illustrative, talking about how the catcher has to do a dance to re-orient himself.

Good stuff, I love when they remind you just how hard this game actually is to play and explain the mechanics of it all.

Girardi described how the practice sessions for those pop-ups went, and about how easy it is to look foolish.

And one other thing: Mo was freaking satanic on the mound yesterday.

2007-04-03 10:41:55
7.   Sliced Bread
Great job, Will.

When you get a chance: What did you think about the opening day coverage in today's papers?

I think The NY Daily News got it right putting the Yanks on the front (Giambi with the Lidles) and backpage (A-Rod follow through).

The NY Post inexplicably went big with the Fla. Gators on the backpage, and squeezed A-Rod's curtain call onto the front page.

Newsday (city edition) also got it right: Yanks on front and back page, plus 12 page pullout (which I plan to read at lunch) PLUS an A-Rod centerfold poster.

Actually, NY Newsday out-tabloided the other rags. The cover of the 12 page insert shows Pavano hurling a pitch toward us. The headline: "No Harm Done: Pavano doesn't hurt self or Yanks as offense gets him off hook." Snarky but accurate. Nicely done if you ask me.

Oddly the editors at The NY Times and NY Sun both chose to run photos of cotton candy vendors on their respective front pages. Odd headlines accompanying the pink stuff, too. NY Times: "On and Off the Field, the Pitching Begins." NY Sun: "Yankees Turn Clouds Into Cotton Candy."

The NY Times headline atop "Sports Tuesday" inside the paper is very much not my style:
"Yanks First Remember Lidle, Then, Gradually, How To Win."

My headline for that headline: "Times First Forgets How To Sell Papers, Then, Gradually, Makes Fingers Turn Black"

NY Post reports Swindal was not at the game while NY Times spots and quotes Swindal outside the stadium "appearing confident"

-----------------------------
"It's business as usual," Swindal said. "I am here."

Swindal said theat he continued to talk to Steinbrenner from "time to time."

-------------------------
Right.

In other news:
As Paul Simon sang "I can gather all the news I need on the weather report" -- and the weather does not look good for tomorrow.
Weather.com predicts 90% chance of showers at noon tomorrow in the Bronx, continuing throughout the day. Thunder as well. Damn. Sounds like a warsh out is brewing.

2007-04-03 11:13:19
8.   Sliced Bread
Dig Steve Goldman's "Hollywood In The Bronx" piece from the front page of today's NY Sun (under the photo of the cotton candy guy):

http://www.nysun.com/article/51697

2007-04-03 12:43:52
9.   Andre
To reiterate a (slightly) dead topic, how are the other out of market fans dealing with the loss of Extra Innings? Have you switched to DTV? I personally don't think I will (cost is MUCH too high for the same services I get today under cable). That's a shame - I'm one of those guys that DVR's and watches every Yanks game on EI (for the past 4 years). MLB.tv is crap for me - I get home from work at 7pm & play with my kids for 2 hours before they go to bed. I can't record MLB.tv games, and even if I could, I wouldn't sit in front of my computer for 2 hours at night to watch a game, especially when I have a nice 88" HD projector screen sitting in the next room (that I used to watch HD games on). Sux to be me, I guess. My kids will probably grow up Red Sox fans now since they won't be able to watch the Yanks on a regular basis. Sour grapes, yes, but I'm flat out bummed. I guess there's still a little hope that the cable co's will work something out but I'm not holding my breath.
2007-04-03 13:00:38
10.   Bama Yankee
9 I feel your pain Andre. I have thought about switching to DTV, but the cost is a lot higher (due to the fact that I get my broadband from cable).

The irony for me is that my wife has really started getting interested in watching the Yankee games with me. She even watched the game yesterday on ESPN while I was at work (she said she even tuned in on XM while she was going to pick up our son).

My point is that she became a fan because she got to watch the Yanks on EI for the last three years. The same thing would happen with my son (he's only three). Baseball is making a tremendously shortsited decision if they go exclusively with DTV. It makes more sense to put their product out there for more people to see and reap the benefits that come from an increased fan base. But who am I to second guess Bud Selig and his brilliant marketing machine that has put baseball in the number one position of all major sports. Oh, wait...

2007-04-03 13:09:45
11.   pistolpete
10 ...And I keep hearing the same stupid argument out of Selig in every interview: "My people have told me that we actually have TOO much product out there".

Ummm....what?

2007-04-03 13:15:34
12.   standuptriple
11 Sounds like Bud needs some new people. The owners, whom have Bud in their pocket, are obviously pulling the strings on this and even The Mighty Stein can't battle the other 29 clubs.
2007-04-03 13:15:36
13.   Bama Yankee
11 Yeah, that happened to a little company started by Bill Gates and he was never heard from again...
2007-04-03 13:16:20
14.   Knuckles
11 No ish. 320 games of the Orioles and Nats may be a lot, but it is not too much product- rather it's irrelevant product for me.

I coughed up $20 for MLB.tv Premium for April, and will see how it goes. No way in hell am I switching to DTV. Hoping to move back to NJ before too long anyway, so hopefully it'll be a moot point by the ASB.

Supposably my cable provider (Comcast) will be helping former EI subscribers offset their new MLB.tv charges with a $50 credit, but I ain't seen the letter yet.

It does suck to go from a HDTV to my computer monitor...at least it's a widescreen Mac, but still.

2007-04-03 13:25:46
15.   dianagramr
Bud Selig made almost 45% more than Carl Pavano last year ...

(shudder)

2007-04-03 13:42:56
16.   C2Coke
15 The unique skill that enables one to earn big bucks by doing nothing. They both have it, but Bud Selig is obviously at a much higher level.

11 Are those "people" from Earth?

2007-04-03 13:56:47
17.   weeping for brunnhilde
Hey Will, I have a question about the direction of cameras for the games.

I really love the view from behind the catcher and from high above home plate, where you can see the whole field.

Do you know who directs these shots and what their method is?

Because they use the batter's-eye view so rarely, and so randomly.

They should really think more about how to incorporate that perspective into the game as something more than just a random change of pace.

For instance, why not just pick a batter at random and show the whole at bat from that perspective?

Same with the other angle, from above: why don't they go to that angle the second a fly ball is hit?

That would seem to make sense because in the standard angles, you really have no idea how good or bad the outfielders are because you can't see the jump they get or the route they take to the ball.

So in short, my question is, why do they have these great camera angles if they're not going to use them in a thoughtful way, to enhance the viewer's experience of the game?

2007-04-03 14:02:57
18.   Andre
I also considered a Slingbox as an alternative to DTV (parking it at my parents' home in NJ) but I'd be stuck with the computer thing again - no real output to the tv and no recording mech.
2007-04-03 17:32:04
19.   vockins
I don't mean to steal the thunder of the adequate writers here at Bronx Banter, but if you're looking for truly insightful Yankees Opening Day analysis, be sure to check out my quote in the Unfiltered section of Baseball Prospectus.

http://baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=306

2007-04-04 04:26:43
20.   nemecizer
I see I am not the only one to call out Wallace Matthews on his crappy column. BB's very own Mike Plugh in the hizzle.

http://tinyurl.com/38nw6c

What a crappy article from a true hack writer.

2007-04-04 05:06:09
21.   OldYanksFan
9 14 This is indeed an important issue. From what I read, DTV WILL BE selling rights to games (seasons) to other providers, with the caveat that the other providers pay the same rate (expensive) that DTV paid.

Over the next year or 2, we will need to see how that plays out.

I saw a (demo) game on MLB.TV's (new) Hi-Res mozaic version. The picture quality was much improved, to the point that double-size was TV quality, and full screen, while not quite TV quality was pretty close. Mind you, that's not 88" HDTV quality, but at least very watchable.

If other providers do NO pich up the package from DTV, look for MLB.TV to see a potential huge audience and continue to upgrade/enhance their product. I'm not a techno buff, but if you can record digital programs from a TV, doing so on a computer should be easy. I look for that product (if it doesn't already exist) to be available soon.

Since I won't do DTV and I already pay $15/month for MLB.TV, I will bite the bullet on another $5/month and get the vastly better picture quality of the mozaic package. While MLB.TV is overpriced, that particular $5/month is money well spent.

I might even take an old computer, get a 21" flat screen monitor (pretty cheap these days) and set it up in the living room.

What about PC to TV converters/boxes? If you are getting a digital feed to the computer, what's it take to 'funnel' it to the TV in the living room?

As PCs and TVs begin to merge, is there now, or will there be soon, a decent way to bring MLB.TV into the living room?

(or a least an easy chair into the computer room)?

2007-04-04 05:06:59
22.   rbj
No dish for me. I am no lapdog for Bud, jumping every time he holds out a treat, and rolling over and playing dead. Selig certainly has his @ss way up his head on this one. I did get mlb.tv, only because the cable company is reimbursing me for the whole thing.

Hey, did anyone else see that two games into the season and the Astros have two blown saves already? Yousure you want to turn your six innings of work over to that crew< Roger? Or to Mo?
Didn't think it was a tough decision. Look for the Rocket in pinstripes in June.

2007-04-04 05:25:47
23.   williamnyy23
According to Maury Brown (Biz of Baseball), Face-to-face meetings are still occurring with the parties as of late Tuesday regarding a deal to keep MLB Extra Innings on cable and DISH Networks.

"We were hoping and expecting that there could be a deal done the last couple of days. Both sides are involved, and they're continuing to talk," In Demand spokeswoman Ellen Cooper said.

*

Personally, I applaud MLB for sticking to its guns. There is no reason why it shouldn't make the deal that is in its best economic interest. With all due respect to some of the members here, MLB shouldn't forgo a great business deal because a handful of fans want to be able to watch their games on a projector or value their cable broadband feed over a satellite dish. Just as consumers are free to make that choice, MLB should be free to partner with whomever they choose. In 2-3 years when MLB has a thriving MLB.TV service to go along with a successful 24-hour cable channel, the outcry over this deal will look silly.

2007-04-04 06:57:42
24.   Andre
Williamnyy23 - with all due respect, you really don't know what you're talking about.

Cable Co's have offered to match the DTV deal, with the exception that they only want to guarantee that the new baseball package will be available to a portion of their subscribers (proportionate to the total number of DTV subscribers). I think the ratio works out to about 80% of cable subscribers getting the new channel.

MLB would get paid by both Cable & DTV - they'd either get the same amount, or slightly more money with that deal.

HOW is that a bad deal for MLB?

On the other hand, it is a VERY bad deal for consumers, and will likely lead to the loss of MLB's anti-trust exemption (which will end up being a bad deal for MLB).

If DTV gets the exclusive, I either have to suffer degraded quality and purchase MLB.tv, or I have to incur tremendously higher startup and ongoing costs to buy the dish. Neither is a good situation for me.

Many more people are moving around the country these days. They telecommute, they move away for school, they move for better jobs, etc. MLB is making it difficult for those people to be fans of their original home team.

If they've already been guaranteed the same or better deal by opening this up to cable co's, explain to me how this move is good for baseball? Seems like it's no better for baseball, but MUCH worse for a segment of baseball fans.

2007-04-04 07:41:30
25.   Bama Yankee
23 How is taking your product away from 200,000 of your most loyal customers in the best economic interest of MLB? Sure, some of us could switch to DTV or MLB.TV (making the later more valuable for MLB). But, being forced to switch has certainly left a bad taste in the mouth of many. It seems to me that if you alienate your core customer base for a short term gain you could lose in the long term (as those fans choose other forms of entertainment). Plus, with cable willing to match the DTV offer, it seems that the economics are at least similar.

If it were only a "handful of fans" as you say, then I doubt there would have been a congressional hearing over the matter. Also, it is easy for those who have DTV to dismiss this issue. For those of us who are directly affected it is no small matter. MLB apparently thinks that my family could just huddle around my laptop as easy as we watch my 60" Sony widescreen TV.

As I have stated in the past, I would pay twice what I currently pay if I could just get the YES Network (and every Yankee game) in my living room. So, if MLB wanted to make more money they certainly could from people like me.

Lastly, it's ironic that you say "a successful 24-hour cable channel". It's hard for a channel to successful on cable if it is shown exclusively on DirecTV. Not to mention that the latest hangup in the deal is over the fact that DTV has a 20% stake in the channel and MLB wants cable to carry the channel on their basic tier but have been unwilling to give cable a similar stake in the channel.

2007-04-04 08:25:30
26.   Start Spreading the News
Additionally, it looks like MLB.tv decides blackout games for you based on where you are watching. My sister lives in San Fran and pays for the mlb.tv package. But when she visits new york, she can' watch the Yanks or Mets. Needless to say she is annoyed about that since our family doesn't have DTV.
2007-04-04 08:27:21
27.   Shaun P
25 To add on to your point, Bama - the NFL is vastly more popular than MLB (sad but true). However, the NFL Network - which is NFL 24/7/365 - has pretty crappy ratings. I don't think a 24-hour MLB channel is guaranteed to be a success at all. Particularly if its as poorly run as some other MLB enterprises have been.
2007-04-04 08:34:55
28.   Start Spreading the News
25 Bama says: "It seems to me that if you alienate your core customer base for a short term gain you could lose in the long term (as those fans choose other forms of entertainment)."

Bama, I agree with sentiment of your post. But I don't think that baseball is in anyway in danger of losing the core customer base. These are the people you can most afford to screw, if you are baseball. Because they are baseball addicts. They are willing to pay $$$ to watch their favorite team from faraway. If they can't get to do that, they will resort to radio, newspapers or the web to follow the team. But it is highly unlikely that they will stop following the team altogether. A few might. But the most will not.

These are the fans that stayed with baseball post-strike years and didn't leave baseball during the steroid scandals. These are the diehards.

For example, the Red Sox fans I know living here in NYC: They are either going to get DTV or the MLB.tv package. But if they don't do either, they aren't going to stop following the Sox.

2007-04-04 08:36:11
29.   Start Spreading the News
26 It should read that she cannot watch yanks or mets when in NY. Rapid typing, left out the 't' in can't
2007-04-04 08:38:00
30.   OldYanksFan
Today's game rained out.
CR*P!
I feel like a junkie.
A rainout after an off-day, one day into the season is karmacally unfair.
My day is blown.
I am in a cold sweat with the idea that tomorrow could be cancelled too.

I though teams in the Northeast started the season on the road (in areas with a milder climate). I guess I was wrong.

2007-04-04 08:52:16
31.   Bama Yankee
28 I guess my point about the long term loss was this: Even though I (being a devout Yankee fan) will continue to follow my team as best I can (probably on my laptop), others in my family will not. This is evidenced by my post above 10. Casual fans such as my wife and son will not turn into diehard baseball fans unless they have easy access to the product. Expecting to grow your base of core fans by alienating that same group while at the same time making it harder for the casual fan to get your product seems like a long term disaster for MLB. If a World Series game is played and no one tunes in to watch, does Tim McCarver still make a sound?
2007-04-04 09:05:30
32.   williamnyy23
24 Andre – inDemand (a consortium owned by Cable companies) HAS NOT matched the deal. The exception you mentioned is the MOST IMPORTANT part of the deal. Guaranteeing basic distribution of the MLB channel is the backbone of the deal with DirectTV. What MLB wants is for the cable companies to guarantee 80% of their digital customers will receive the MLB channel on basic. The cable companies have NOT yet agreed to do this. Once they do, Extra Innings will be available to them. If DirectTV can agree to MLB's terms, so too can cable. That's the beauty of the free market.

What's more, the deal isn't bad for consumers. DirectTV has pledged to invest more money in the package if it is granted exclusivity. Being that most EI subs are DirectTV customers, that means a better product for over 200K consumers.

Also, the successful development of a 24-hr channel would be another positive development for consumers. It would be very silly for MLB to allow the gripes of a small minority to prevent the development of a product that will benefit the majority (something it likely wouldn't be able to do if cable doesn't guarantee basic distribution).

As for losing the anti-trust exemption, that is hogwash. John Kerry can grandstand all he wants, but Congress has never threatened baseball's anti-trust privileges despite decades of saber rattling.

25 First off, 180K fans do not constitute a core anything for baseball. Rather, such a small segment is but a tiny fraction of baseball's market. Like it or not, businesses do not make decisions based on such small populations.

Here's the bottom line…if you want the luxury of out of market baseball games (a level of access that is far from a birth right), then you have to be flexible. According to a study done by MLB, only 5,000 current Extra Innings subscribers can't get DirectTV. Those 5,000 people are the only ones with legitimate gripes. Quite frankly, the fan who is worried about not getting to watch his 60" screen or doesn't want to switch from cable to DSL doesn't elicit much sympathy from me…nor should they be given much consideration from baseball.

26 I don't think the NFL is vastly more popular; it gets better ratings on per game basis, but that's because MLB has 162 games per team, which dilute per game ratings. Also, with the burgeoning of internet distribution, MLB's greater source of content could very well vault it past the NFL in terms of media revenue over the next 10-20 years. That's why many have speculated that MLBAM could go IPO for several billion dollars right now.

Secondly, the NFL channel gets low ratings because it is only carried on DirectTV. Baseball is trying to avoid that fate by using the leverage it has in negotiating the Extra Innings deal.

As I've stated before, the only argument that detractors of the deal provide is it makes things less convenient for them. Well, that isn't a very compelling argument beyond your household.

Apparently, cable understands this and is only now trying to legitimately match DirectTV's offer. If the parties can come to an agreement on ownership stake, a compromise very well could be reach. If that happens, however, it will only be because MLB refused to cave into the pressure of a vocal few and lobbying power of the cable companies.

2007-04-04 09:08:59
33.   williamnyy23
31 So how did so many MLB fans come to be? I have a feeling that full access to local teams as well as games on FOX, ESPN and TNT/TBS will provide more than enough outlets for fans to view the game. I think it is rather naive to suggest that Extra Innings customers on cable hold the key to the sport's future growth.
2007-04-04 09:19:22
34.   rbj
32"Quite frankly, the fan who is worried about not getting to watch his 60" screen or doesn't want to switch from cable to DSL doesn't elicit much sympathy from me…nor should they be given much consideration from baseball."
Wow, that is breathtakingly arrogant. I am not Bud Selig's puppet, having to jump each time he pulls the strings. Baseball only makes money because there are people willing to watch it. You make it harder for me to watch, I'll watch less -- ratings will go down, advertising revenues go down.

Why in hell should I have to switch, take time off from work, have an ugly dish on my house, and pay higher on broadband? I hope MLB does lose its antitrust exemption over this.

2007-04-04 09:31:38
35.   williamnyy23
34 You don't have to rbj...but why should MLB make a decision based on your individual needs? To me, that is breathtakingly arrogant.

Something tells me that MLB's business plan is strong enough to overcome the handful of disgruntled fans who have turned the luxury of out of market games into a Constitutional right. As MLB continues to take advantage of the new media landscape, I have a feeling those who decide to not watch will be easily replaced.

2007-04-04 09:44:28
36.   rbj
35 "but why should MLB make a decision based on your individual needs? To me, that is breathtakingly arrogant"

Um, because I'm the consumer? I'm the one who forks over money to MLB, and am the eyeballs that the advertisers want. I am waving dollar bills at MLB, and they are saying "no, we don't want your money unless you jump when we tell you to. And it is not just one individual. No, I am not turning it into a constitutional right -- just that IMO it is a long term bad decision by Bud Selig & his people. And I want out of market games becuase I am a Yankee fan and like a lot of Yankee fans I have met around the country, we do not live in the Metropolitan area.

2007-04-04 09:46:43
37.   Knuckles
I get the feeling this guy is some kind of shill for MLB. Maybe an intern, hired by Bud's cronies to sniff out what's going on out there in the wild wild west of the blogosphere.
For someone who doesn't seem to have much reason to care, he's spent an awfully lot of time all over the Toaster praising this deal to the high heavens.
Must be nice to smugly sit there and tell everyone what they should be thinking about the deal...
2007-04-04 10:35:08
38.   williamnyy23
36 You are 1 consumer...MLB has millions of "consumers". Like any business, MLB needs to do what is in the best interest of its larger market base.

I can appreciate that you want to watch Yankee games, but if you feel that strongly, you have the option to switch to DirectTV or the Internet. If you choose not to for whatever reason, that's your right...just don't make it MLB's obligation to ensure that you do not.

It seems as if you think that MLB's long-term business plan should be based on selling as much product as possible to its smallest customer base. MLB, on the other hand, is pursuing a strategy of exposing itself to the broadest market. Now, at first glance, it might seem as if the opposite is true, but you need to look more deeply.

If MLB's man concern is accommodating diehard fans who currently have EI and will refuse to switch, they'd be focusing on about 100K fans. If, however, they pursue a strategy to increase the distribution of a 24-hr channel to basic customers (approx. 70 million in the US) as well as use increased revenue from MLB.TV to enhance it's internet product (1bn worldwide users), I think you can see where the bigger numbers are.

37 Last time we had this discussion, I was a DirectTV schill. At least now, I am working for MLB. Of course, that's a ridiculous suggestion. As you have resorted to attacking me instead of debating my argument, I'll assume you don't really have much to offer on the topic. The irony, of course, is that I am a DirectTV subscriber precisely because Cablevision refused to carry Yankees games (in their local market) for over a year. Instead of whine and complain, I simply switched to DirectTV. It couldn't have been an easier process.

2007-04-04 10:46:17
39.   Bama Yankee
33 "So how did so many MLB fans come to be?"
I can't speak for anyone but myself. I became a Yankee fan as a kid back in the late 70's as a result of watching them play in the World Series (some of those games were actually played during the day so I got to watch the entire game). I followed the team as best I could down here in Alabama (Monday Night Baseball and Saturday Game of the Week). I also collected baseball cards before they became such a big business and tried to follow the Yankees in my local paper (what a joke). I even read the book Bronx Zoo.

Until the advent of the internet and EI, it was difficult for me to get the kind of information about my team that I wanted. However, during this period one thing was always there willing to meet my need: the Braves on TBS. I could watch the Braves every night if I wanted, but my team was the Yankees. This glut of Braves games coupled with a winning team increased Atlanta's fan base and made tons of money for Ted Turner. Imagine what might have happened to the Yankee fan base during the late 90's if YES would have been as prevalant as TBS.

Increasing fans outside of the home team market seems to make sense economically for baseball. Having more people watching your sport should bring in more revenue, right? Sharing this revenue with the small market teams should offset any problems that this might cause.

Sadly, I had to wait 25 years to follow my favorite team from the comfort of my living room. One wonders how many other baseball fans gave up during the process (as evidenced by the sharp decline in WS ratings over the last few decades).

So, the question is not how those fans came to be, but where did they go? My guess is that people who were fans as a kid (listening on transistor radios) may have moved "out of market" and thus cannot follow their favorite team as easily. Consequently, they found other things to do with their time and money.

MLB continues to make decisions that make it harder for fans to gain access to their product and they wonder why their ratings are down while others sports have enjoyed a surge in ratings (NFL, NASCAR, NCAA Football and Basketball).

2007-04-04 10:47:52
40.   rbj
38 It is not just me, there are others who want it, and it is for the largest base, not the smallest -- cable and satellite will be fine. You are starting to twist what I'm saying.
2007-04-04 10:54:13
41.   Bama Yankee
40 Not only is it not just you, me and a few other Banter posters. There are countless other message boards, web sites, sports writers and even US Senators who have displayed outrage over this deal. Whereas, I have heard of only a small handful of people who support the DTV exclusive deal (Chase Carey from DTV and williamnyy23 being the only two I can come up with at the moment).
2007-04-04 11:12:16
42.   Andre
I guess a basic question is, why are out of market games a luxury? Do the Red Sox really lose revenue if I watch a Yankees game instead of a Red Sox game? If I can't watch a Yankees game here in Massachusetts, I'm not interested in watching a Red Sox game. That's how baseball is different than football. Most football fans are happy to watch other teams (beyond their home teams). I would wager that most people who subscribe to Extra Innings do not watch more than a small handful of games that do not involve their home team. They have access to every teams' games, but I doubt they use a fraction of that access. Baseball is much more of a home team kind of sport.

Getting Extra Innings is not about luxury. If I'm out of market, I'm not going to baseball games (so MLB and the home team loses my revenue on attendance), I'm not watching local teams on tv (so the local team loses my revenue), I'm not watching a game on a 19 inch computer monitor (not very conducive to family viewing). If I don't have Extra Innings, I don't watch more than 20 baseball games a year (whenever I'm lucky enough for ESPN to broadcast my team. Who benefits?

TNT has had Braves games on nationwide for many years. Has that hurt baseball or the Braves? I doubt it. It probably generated a few more Braves fans who couldn't watch any other team. Why do Braves fans get preferential treatment? If I were a Braves fan, I'd be able to see every one of their games for no additional charge (beyond basic cable).

DTV has a stake in the Baseball channel. That's why they're happy to put it on every subscriber's tv. Forcing cable co's to carry another party's product for free, and not have any hope of generating revenue on it, seems kind of strong arm. Then they have the nerve to compare the DTV offer to the cable co offer. It's not an apples to apples comparison.

Bottom line, MLB could make substantially the same amount of money by allowing cable co's to carry it, and no one (except maybe DTV) would be unhappy with that. OR, they could refuse to allow the cable co's to carry it, and piss of several hundred thousand fans. Seems like a no brainer. I guess that's why Bud & co are in favor of it. Come to think of it, I really can't think of anything positive that Bud has done for baseball. During his tenure, MLB has gone from american pastime to 2nd class citizen to football.

NFL did lose some of its antitrust exemption over the DTV exclusive deal. Wanna bet congress gets tougher on both MLB and DTV if it sees a trend happening? Why should they be allowed to be exempt from antitrust regs if they're going to abuse their exclusion to the detriment of consumers. Less choice is never good for the consumer (and counting MLB.tv as a similar choice to Extra Innings is laughable). Check out the trend in people installing home theaters in their houses and buying larger and larger tv's. People want bigger, not smaller (computer) tv.

2007-04-04 11:15:58
43.   Andre
Another question for William - if this decision doesn't affect you at all, why do you care so much? You're already a DTV subscriber, so why are you bothering to argue the point? You're arguing that my concerns (and the concerns of others on this board) are not valid because you made the switch. That's great for you but it doesn't do anything to resolve my problem.
2007-04-04 11:18:31
44.   Sliced Bread
I'm not among the screwed, but I've moved around the country enough to feel the pain of those who are getting the MLB shaft.

What's worse, watch how fast MLB enlists stars like Jeter and A-Rod, for example, to promote the Extra Innings deal.

Kenny Rogers would be perfect for such an infuriating ad campaign.

2007-04-04 11:25:24
45.   Start Spreading the News
32 You really can't take MLB's studies at face value. Their study that says only 5000 people EI subscribers can't get DTV?

I would very much disagree with that. If you live in NYC with many tall buildings and no view of the sky, how are you getting DTV? There might be 5K people in NYC alone that are EI subscribers that cant do DTV.

2007-04-04 11:27:31
46.   Shaun P
38 "If, however, they [MLB] pursue a strategy to increase the distribution of a 24-hr channel to basic customers (approx. 70 million in the US) . . ."

If cable companies put the BC on basic cable, MLB gets a set fee based on each cable subscriber, say its $2/household/year. $2/household/year*70M households = $140M/year.

If cable companies put the BC on a pay tier, only those who want the channels pay for it, and cable passes on that money to MLB. Let's say that's just 10M households. $2/household/year*10M households = $20M/year.

Difference = $120M/year.

That is what this fight is over. When you think about it this way from a consumer's perspective - and from a capitalist perspective - its an even worse deal. If the BC goes on basic cable, either cable companies cut fees they pay to other channels to pay MLB (not bloodly likely), or they raise their basic rates (ding ding ding!) Meanwhile, something like say 60M households have to pay more money for yet another channel they don't want and won't watch. All to line MLB's pockets.

Honestly, even if it were on basic cable and DirecTV and DISH, without actual live games, how many viewers will the BC ever have? Will they ever pass 10M viewers for a single show? My guess is no . . . unless they broadcast the playoffs/World Serious/All-Star games, but those are on FOX/TBS/ESPN through 2013. So MLB isn't counting much on advertising revenue here. They want the huge subscriber fees.

So, MLB is risking alienating some of its core customers, and if they don't do that, they are certainly going to alienate a whole bunch of potential new customers. (Can you imagine the reaction of the Average-Joe-who's-ambivalent-about-baseball, finding out his basic cable rates are going up AGAIN because of a 24-hour BASEBALL channel? Bet that makes him real likely to take his kids to see a ballgame, or buy baseball paraphernalia.)

This makes perfect financial sense to MLB in the short term, because of the amount of money being talked about. But in the long term, its a crappy business move.

2007-04-04 11:40:13
47.   williamnyy23
39

"Imagine what might have happened to the Yankee fan base during the late 90's if YES would have been as prevalant as TBS."

X-YES couldn't be as prevalent as TBS because one is a RSN and the other was a super station. Local cable companies would never carry an out of market RSN because it would be irrelevant to their market. Only a national distributor such as DirectTV would (and does).

*

"Increasing fans outside of the home team market seems to make sense economically for baseball. Having more people watching your sport should bring in more revenue, right? Sharing this revenue with the small market teams should offset any problems that this might cause."

X-Why should MLB care whether a fan in Alabama roots for the Yankees or the Braves? That might be of interest to the Yankees, but the sport as a whole would benefit one way or the other. Even with exclusive distribution of EI, just about every market as one team whose local games will be broadcast on cable (not to mention the hundred of games on FOX, ESPN and TNT). Your suggestion that baseball is going to lose fans due to underexposure just doesn't hold water. The typical 10-year old today has more access to baseball than at anytime. The tiny number of total EI subscribers is a drop in the bucket.

*

"Sadly, I had to wait 25 years to follow my favorite team from the comfort of my living room. One wonders how many other baseball fans gave up during the process (as evidenced by the sharp decline in WS ratings over the last few decades)."

X-Not many in my estimation, judging from the record breaking minor and major league attendance, through the roof revenues and the collective TV/radio ratings of all regular season games. To suggest that WS rating reflects a decline in MLB's popularity is just plain wrong. What is really at that heart of the decline is the proliferation of media outlets. Today's consumer has 100's of channels in addition to the Internet and satellite radio. This isn't 1975 when being home in October meant you could watch the local news, PBS, some reruns on an affiliate or the World Series.

*

"So, the question is not how those fans came to be, but where did they go? My guess is that people who were fans as a kid (listening on transistor radios) may have moved "out of market" and thus cannot follow their favorite team as easily. Consequently, they found other things to do with their time and money."

X-They haven't gone anywhere…just look in the stands or at all the local RSNs popping up. There has never been more MLB on TV (with or without Extra Innings). Now, with the development of a 24-hr channel as well as enhanced internet services, MLB's distribution platform is expanding even further. I understand that those blinded by self-interest can't see the long-term opportunities, but thankfully MLB does.

*
"MLB continues to make decisions that make it harder for fans to gain access to their product and they wonder why their ratings are down while others sports have enjoyed a surge in ratings (NFL, NASCAR, NCAA Football and Basketball). "

X-This is the statement that exposes the emotional basis of your argument.
First off…the NFL, NASCAR and NCAA all have exclusive distribution deals…with DirectTV!
Secondly, ratings are down for all sports across the board for the reason I mentioned below. Just do a google search and you'll see. In the meantime, here are a few links:

1) "Through the first 22 telecasts, the 2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship tournament on CBS is averaging a 5.6 rating and 12 share, down 5 percent from the 5.9/13 it averaged last year, according to Nielsen Media Research."
http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/news/networktv/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003563636

2) In his "state of the sport" speech last week, NASCAR chairman Brian France tried to dismiss the slump in Cup television ratings last season, saying that one year could be just a hiccup in an overall trend.
The hiccup continued Sunday.
The rating for the Daytona 500 telecast on Fox was a 10.1, with a 20 share and an average audience of 17.53 million. Despite being the fifth-highest rated Daytona 500 in history, it was down from the all-time rating of 11.3 and viewership of 19.35 million last year while sandwiched between Winter Olympics coverage on NBC.
http://www.thatsracin.com/242/story/3106.html

2007-04-04 11:42:41
48.   williamnyy23
41 There have been other opinions expressed supporting the deal...the one I'd refer you to is Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus. Goldman and Neyer have also touched on the subject, both rejecting the "injustice" argument being advanced here. Clearly, if you have cable and don't want to switch, you aren't going to like the deal. As I mentioned before, that just isn't a very compelling argument.
2007-04-04 11:52:05
49.   Shaun P
Maury Brown's Biz of Baseball site is doing an unscientific survey related to all this:

http://tinyurl.com/3bn6er

2007-04-04 11:53:08
50.   Andre
1) "Through the first 22 telecasts, the 2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship tournament on CBS is averaging a 5.6 rating and 12 share, down 5 percent from the 5.9/13 it averaged last year, according to Nielsen Media Research."
http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/news/networktv/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003563636

2) In his "state of the sport" speech last week, NASCAR chairman Brian France tried to dismiss the slump in Cup television ratings last season, saying that one year could be just a hiccup in an overall trend.
The hiccup continued Sunday.
The rating for the Daytona 500 telecast on Fox was a 10.1, with a 20 share and an average audience of 17.53 million. Despite being the fifth-highest rated Daytona 500 in history, it was down from the all-time rating of 11.3 and viewership of 19.35 million last year while sandwiched between Winter Olympics coverage on NBC.
http://www.thatsracin.com/242/story/3106.html

Funny - couldn't these declines be related to the exclusive deals those sports have cultivated with DTV? There are more cable subscribers in the US than dish subscribers, and it doesn't seem like a majority of those sports' fans are jumping to DTV. If I don't watch the Yanks all season long, I'm less likely to care when the playoffs start. If I'm invested all season, then I want to be there for the finish.

Ever check to see how much decline in WS viewership there was when the Yanks/Mets were in the series? The rest of the nation didn't care, save for the pockets of displaced fans (like me). Taking the baseball channel and putting it on a second tier carrier cannot grow baseball interest. As long as DTV is more costly, more difficult (or impossible to switch to) and has weaker service (no cable modem/dsl access), it will not become the dominant carrier.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-04-04 11:56:55
51.   rbj
48 No, what isn't compelling is your arguments in favor of the DirecTv deal -- it does not enhance baseball, it takes away. The longer you keep parroting MLB's talking points, the more I feel like saying "to hell with baseball." That isn't good. Less exposure is not enhancement. MLB.TV is not a real alternative -- I only signed up for it because the cable company is reimbursing me.

As for MLB not caring whether a fan in Alabama roots for the Yankees or Braves, that shows utter cluelessness. When I moved from NY to Oregon & Washington, I didn't suddelny become a Mariners fan, when I then moved to northern Virginia I didn't become an Orioles fan, when I moved to South Carolina I wasn't a Braves fan, and now that I'm in Toledo I'm not a Tigers/Indians/Reds fan. MLB does not seem to understand that people move around the country, but still want to be able to follow their old team. This deal makes it harder to do that. And why should I have to pay more for my broadband connection if I moved to satellite -- that is no good.

2007-04-04 12:01:51
52.   williamnyy23
"I guess a basic question is, why are out of market games a luxury?"

X-They are a luxury because all entertainment is a luxury. It's one thing to rail against the drug companies for limiting the distribution of a life saving medicine and another to shout injustice at MLB for limiting the access that out of town fans have to their favorite team. Another reason it is a luxury is because so few have it. This is a forum comprised of die hard fans, so I can understand why it might seem as if the impact is greater than it is. The reality, however, is the "out-of-market" segment of the MLB fan base is very tiny, and certainly not large enough to cause MLB to forgo a strong business deal.


"Getting Extra Innings is not about luxury. If I'm out of market, I'm not going to baseball games (so MLB and the home team loses my revenue on attendance), I'm not watching local teams on tv (so the local team loses my revenue), I'm not watching a game on a 19 inch computer monitor (not very conducive to family viewing). If I don't have Extra Innings, I don't watch more than 20 baseball games a year (whenever I'm lucky enough for ESPN to broadcast my team. Who benefits?"

X-Ironically, you have an outlined an argument for why MLB should abolish EI altogether. Apparently, you are suggesting that fans can use EI to substitute for spending on local teams. Perhaps if there was no EI, that Yankee fan in Atlanta would be more likely to attend Braves games, thereby spending more money in the process? I'm not really sure what point you are trying to make.

*
"TNT has had Braves games on nationwide for many years. Has that hurt baseball or the Braves? I doubt it. It probably generated a few more Braves fans who couldn't watch any other team. Why do Braves fans get preferential treatment? If I were a Braves fan, I'd be able to see every one of their games for no additional charge (beyond basic cable)."

X-First off, Braves games on TBS have been dwindling, migrating instead to Turner Sports South (a local RSN). As you mentioned, MLB is much more a local game than a national one, so it is in MLB's best interest to leverage its power to increase its national distribution (in this case a MLB channel on basic cable).

Being on TBS, however, is not akin to being on EI. TBS is a super station with national reach on the basic tier (exactly what MLB wants for it's new channel). Even before the deal with DirectTV, EI was a niche subscription product. They are completely different things.

*

"Bottom line, MLB could make substantially the same amount of money by allowing cable co's to carry it, and no one (except maybe DTV) would be unhappy with that. OR, they could refuse to allow the cable co's to carry it, and piss of several hundred thousand fans. Seems like a no brainer."

X-You can keep asserting that claim, but it just isn't true. MLB has tremendous leverage with EI, so it has every right to use it to its advantage. Having the MLB channel on basic has the potential to offer huge revenue potential. Even if the casualty was several 100,000 fans, they would be more than offset.

*
"During his tenure, MLB has gone from american pastime to 2nd class citizen to football.
NFL did lose some of its antitrust exemption over the DTV exclusive deal. Wanna bet congress gets tougher on both MLB and DTV if it sees a trend happening? Why should they be allowed to be exempt from antitrust regs if they're going to abuse their exclusion to the detriment of consumers. Less choice is never good for the consumer (and counting MLB.tv as a similar choice to Extra Innings is laughable). Check out the trend in people installing home theaters in their houses and buying larger and larger tv's. People want bigger, not smaller (computer) tv."

X-Lets take gambling out of the equation and see where the NFL stacks up. I am happy with baseball, thank you very much. If you prefer the NFL, you could always subscribe to DirectTV and spend your summer counting down the days to Sunday Ticket. Oh, wait… 
Also, for the record, the NFL does have an anti-trust exemption with regard to negotiating TV rights. Also, many legal scholars feel it (or any sport) wouldn't need the exemption to continue negotiating exclusive TV deals.

2007-04-04 12:08:16
53.   williamnyy23
43 I am arguing because: (1) the notion of entitlement rankles me; (2) I get tired of MLB being overly criticized for things other businesses/sports get applauded for; and (3) I was supposed to be at the Yankee game today and have nothing to do.

As I stated before, I can understand why you don't like the deal, but you simply can not project your personal frustration onto MLB's macroeconomic landscape.

Because I love MLB, I would not support the deal if I thought it could hrut the game's popularity, even if it met my own interests. Similarly, I would hate to see MLB forgo a great business opportunity that I think has the potential to truly benefit the game. Furthermore, there is no way I would let having to change TV providers stand in the way of seeing baseball, so I can't fathom how a baseball fan would see that as a major obstacle.

2007-04-04 12:08:20
54.   williamnyy23
43 I am arguing because: (1) the notion of entitlement rankles me; (2) I get tired of MLB being overly criticized for things other businesses/sports get applauded for; and (3) I was supposed to be at the Yankee game today and have nothing to do.

As I stated before, I can understand why you don't like the deal, but you simply can not project your personal frustration onto MLB's macroeconomic landscape.

Because I love MLB, I would not support the deal if I thought it could hrut the game's popularity, even if it met my own interests. Similarly, I would hate to see MLB forgo a great business opportunity that I think has the potential to truly benefit the game. Furthermore, there is no way I would let having to change TV providers stand in the way of seeing baseball, so I can't fathom how a baseball fan would see that as a major obstacle.

2007-04-04 12:10:22
55.   williamnyy23
45 "You really can't take MLB's studies at face value. Their study that says only 5000 people EI subscribers can't get DTV?

I would very much disagree with that. If you live in NYC with many tall buildings and no view of the sky, how are you getting DTV? There might be 5K people in NYC alone that are EI subscribers that cant do DTV."

*
You have completely misunderstood the study. It doesn't say only 5,000 people can't get DirectTV. It says that of the approximately 180K cable-based EI subs, only 5K can't get DirectTV.

2007-04-04 12:23:26
56.   williamnyy23
50 The only problem with your thesis is that there are ALREADY more DirectTV EI subscribers than cable-based EI subs. Any way you slice it, the number of EI subscribers being displaced by the deal represent a very tiny fraction of the MLB fan base and is not large enough to result in the impact you are suggesting.
As a former Cablevision subscriber forced to flee to DirectTV, I find the service to be both cheaper and superior. The reason satellite isn't and wont become a dominant carrier is because: (1) it doesn't own the monopoly rights of cable (an ironic fact in this argument); and (2) has developed too close to the expansion of broadband internet services, whereas cable developed in a closed teleco. environment. That's a business discussion, however, so not worth expounding upon here.

51
1) I've already detailed how the deal makes business success…do you have any substantial counterpoints, or are you just going to deny they exist because it supports your argument?
2) Let's say this one more time…only 180K people subscribe to Extra Innings. That is statistically insignificant…it might not be to you, but it is to MLB and to the millions of fans around the country, most of whom probably have never even heard of Extra Innings.
3) I have DirectTV and Verizon DSL for approximately $25 a month less than a similar package of offered by Cablevision.

2007-04-04 12:46:21
57.   williamnyy23
46 Your analysis is partly right.

First off, let me ask you this question, however...should non sports fans pay for ESPN; should those not interested in cooking pay for the Food Network; should men have to pay for WE; and should anyone have to pay for Spike?

The cable industry has decided to use the bundled approach to content distribution, so you can't blame the individual channels for being on basic. In many ways, this approach helps out the consumer too…after all, the non-sports fan may be subsidizing my ESPN, but I am also paying for several channels I never watch. A-la-carte programming very well maybe the wave of the future, but until that happens, bundled is what the cable companies (and satellite companies) give us.

In addition, not only does MLB stand to gain from increased subscriber fees, but also from higher advertising rates as a result of being available to more viewers. As you can see, the revenue potential is enormous. That is why the claims of "alienating" loyal fans is so absurd. First off, MLB wont lose a penny if all 180,000 cable subs cancel EI and don't switch to DirectTV because they are getting a rights fee (not a per user fee). Secondly, DirectTV has agreed to invest in the channel and offer it on basic, giving MLB guaranteed access to 15 million homes, something Cable has been unwilling to do.

For the last time, I'll ask…aside from your own personal situation, do you honestly think MLB should not try to secure Basic distribution for its new channel, realizing that if it fails it can still leverage DirectTV exclusivity to build out its internet offerings? If you were MLB's CEO, would you really forfeit these opportunities to appease approximately 180K fans (out of millions), many of whom can switch to DirectTV, but simply do not want to? I think if you remove your emotionally ties to the situation and think of it in logical, economic terms, you'll see why MLB is acting in its best financial interest.

2007-04-04 13:10:38
58.   Andre
180k fans leave EI because it's no longer on cable.

Some small percentage (judging from the comments on BizofBaseball and BronxBanter) convert to DTV - doesn't make up for the full 180k fans.

Also, judging from comments on BizofBaseball and here, a small percentage will switch to MLB.tv. Probably more this year than next because of the cable co's offering subsidies.

A fraction of the 180k remain EI subscribers or MLB.tv subscribers as a result of the switch. Therefore, MLB loses over 100k fans' loyalty as a result of this deal.

Can you imagine anyone switching to DTV just for the 24 hour baseball channel? As a diehard fan, what does the 24hour baseball channel do for me? I get snippets of my home team games. Maybe an occasional full game. I pay nothing for it. I can already get that with ESPN.

If I own a restaurant, and I realize that I can make more money by jacking up prices and forcing people to wear a tuxedo to enter my establishment, does that make it a smart decision? Seems like it's great in the short term but when your attendance is down year over year, eventually you will have to close because you can't sustain your business on higher prices and exclusive practices.

I love Apple Computers but did making their product a niche brand that was more costly benefit their business? They woke up when they made the ipod compatible with Windows, and they're still facing antitrust pressure in Europe and elsewhere to open up the ipod to except competitors' tunes. They make money, but until they started selling the ipod, their user base diminished and they almost went out of business. The parallels to other failed business endeavors can be found throughout history.

MLB will likely always be around because they'll always have a strong fan base, but they're not helping themselves long term by diminishing that base (even in small amounts). This year it will be EI subscribers. What will be next?

I understand that this is a business decision and my argument is self-interest based, but this is also as pure of an antitrust argument as you can get. I am a customer and my access to their product is being greatly reduced. Offering the same service with dramatically reduced quality or features does not avoid the antitrust argument. This country has laws that greatly disfavor monopolies because consumers need to have equal choice for the free market system to succeed. If monopolistic policies like this were allowed to succeed simply because the vendor stands to make great profits, everyone loses. MLB today, pharmaceuticals and telephones tomorrow. Phones never used to be a necessity until everyone had equal access. Cable TV used to be a luxury until they abused their monopoly to lock people out with high prices and monopolistic practices.

2007-04-04 13:30:03
59.   Start Spreading the News
55 Ummm. That's what I said. I repeat my statement "Their study that says only 5000 people EI subscribers can't get DTV"

I typed fast so i repeated people and subscribers, but basically I said 5000 EI subscribers can't get DTV according to the study.

So I did understand what the study said. I am saying that for people who live in cities with no southern view from their apartment, they are plumb out of luck.

This is more than 5000. I say that based on my friends who live in Manhattan who are grousing about MLB and have inquired about DTV. Now me being a sampling size of one is a hardly a basis for extrapolation onto the greater urban population.

But at the same time you realize that it is in the best interest of MLB to release a study that shows that they are screwing the minimum number of people. So you can see where I would question the partiality of the study and thus the validity of its conclusions.

2007-04-04 13:56:21
60.   Bama Yankee
57 "If you were MLB's CEO, would you really forfeit these opportunities to appease approximately 180K fans (out of millions), many of whom can switch to DirectTV, but simply do not want to?"

If I were MLB's CEO, I would weigh my two choices:
$100M/year for a 16M subscriber base (DTV only)
vs.
$100M/year for a 60M subscriber base (DTV, cable & Dish)
That part seems to be simple if I want my product to become more popular. I take the second offer and encourage the providers to promote the EI package like crazy to help increase my fan base (which increases my long term revenue).

As for the baseball channel, I look at these two options:
16M viewers (DTV only) getting the channel
vs.
At least 32M viewers (DTV & cable + some more from Dish)
This part also seems easy. Go with the most viewers.

The hangup is that MLB has offered DTV a 20% stake in the baseball channel. DTV wants to keep this stake, of course. I, as MLB CEO, would make the call that the 20% stake in the channel be split equally among all parties who are willing to pony up the 16M viewers (this would allow Echostar to participate if they could guarantee the viewers).

My next order of business would be to eliminate the blackout restrictions that prevent some people from viewing their favorite teams in certain parts of the country. I would aggressively market teams (and baseball in general) to all areas of the country and other parts of the world.

After all of this wheeling and dealing, I would call George Stienbrenner to secure box seats for all the faithful people at Bronx Banter and push for Don Mattingly to be in the Hall of Fame. Then I would take a nap.

2007-04-04 14:04:03
61.   Start Spreading the News
60 You know that Steinbrenner has no clear candidate for the new head of the yankees.

So bama as MLB's CEO, you should push to get the Bronx Banter folks to be the new head. We have enough diversity of opinion here to make sure that the best ideas are acted upon.

Then maybe we could finally have Jeter bunt a little less this year.

2007-04-04 14:20:05
62.   Bama Yankee
61 Good point. The Yankees could use Jim Dean and williamnyy23 as a legal team that would wear down any opposing attorney.

Sliced Bread, Chyll Will and Knuckles could provide funny stuff for the newspapers to write about (instead of A-Rod drivel).

Alex and Cliff could serve as GM.

The sabermetric guys (too numerous to mention by name) could run the numbers for each player decision.

and you, well... you could Start Spreading the News about the next Yankee championship. ;-)

2007-04-04 14:32:01
63.   Start Spreading the News
61 Sure. That and I would want to hang in Jeter's entourage...
2007-04-04 14:35:04
64.   Bama Yankee
63 LOL.
Done, you're in.
2007-04-04 14:36:55
65.   Knuckles
Sure, sure, make me the clown.
There is one very important decision that I would like to have some input on, that being the return of beer to the bleachers.
That is all.
2007-04-04 15:29:59
66.   williamnyy23
58 At least yo do admit your argument revolves around self-interest. I can definitely understand that, but am glad MLB is looking at a much bigger picture. Hopefully in a few years, everyone who was dustraught over this decision will be enjoying the MLB channel on basic and raving about the quality of MLB.TV. As millions are enjoying these advancement, the temporary inconvenience caused to a small percentage of fans will appear to be the triviality that it really is.
2007-04-04 19:06:31
67.   OldYanksFan
Good triumphs over evil:
"MLB has deal to keep 'Extra Innings' on cable TV"
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2826280
2007-04-04 19:14:57
68.   williamnyy23
This is a real feather in the cap of Bud Selig. All along, the cable companies knew they could meet MLB's terms, but held out hope that MLB would wilt. Instead of caving to public pressure and the lobbying power of the cable companies, MLB exercised its leverage and did something not even the NFL could do ...get the cable companies to blink. Now, the MLB Channel will launch to 40 million homes. The revenue opportunity presented by that development cannot be understated.

I think this development is just the beginning for MLB. What baseball has that the NFL doesn't is an abundance of programming. In a network world, the NFL's limited, but high profile is king, but in an Internet/on-demand world, MLB's extensive content becomes more lucrative.

Now, had MLB caved to the hue and cry, the cable companies would have strong armed their way to another sweetheart deal. By sticking to its guns, MLB was pretty much able to achieve 100% of its objective.

2007-04-04 19:40:32
69.   Bama Yankee
Looks like they went with a plan similar to my suggestion in 60 concerning the equity in the baseball channel:

"As part of the agreement, iN Demand and DirecTV each will receive about 16 percent equity in the new network, a person familiar with the deal said, speaking on condition of anonymity because that detail wasn't announced."

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/070404/bbo_tv_package.html?.v=2

2007-04-04 19:49:38
70.   Bama Yankee
Glad to hear that the "handful" of us who were upset over the original deal were not dismissed as a "small segment" and "tiny fraction" of baseball's market. I guess sometimes businesses do make decisions based on such "small populations".

"The concern expressed by our fans who would have been forced to switch to alternative carriers or were unable to switch was something we tried to be responsive to," baseball chief operating officer Bob DuPuy said.

2007-04-04 20:52:40
71.   Shaun P
57 This has been an interesting discussion. Now of course its all moot, but I don't think MLB was acting wisely in terms of its financial interests.

Time and again the 'Lords of the Game' have acted in their short-term interest, to the long-term detriment of the game. Reading John Helyar's "Lords of the Realm" makes that abundantly clear. I feel this is just another example.

As advertising revenue is based on ratings, ie, the number of households that tune in, and NOT on the number of households that could tune it, I didn't (and don't) see a lot of advertising revenue without actual games. And the earliest the BC could show actual games is 2014.

I'd also argue that the BC isn't going to make any new baseball fans without actual games. I didn't become a baseball fan because I heard my grandfather tell stories of watching Babe Ruth in person, and my dad tell stories of seeing DiMaggio and Mantle play. I became a Yankees fan because we all sat down and watched the (then) current games together.

But as long as the BC is on basic, MLB gets a guaranteed fee. To have that money, MLB was willing to tick off a large portion of its subscriber base. Yes, some, perhaps many of those people would have either switched to DTV or bought MLB.TV. But a large number of them wouldn't have. Not only are those fans - the ones who tend to spend the most money on MLB, by the way - lost, but any fans they might create are lost. And those are the types of fans who are likely to create many new fans. People generally don't stumble onto baseball fandom - they usually become fans because of family. Bama's posts about this remind me of how my mother became a Yankee fan, and how my own wife has slowly become a fan over the years.

So while the guaranteed revenue 'growth' from being on basic cable is there, the potential loss of revenue from core customers was almost tossed away. So was the potential growth by adding new fans through those core customers - which is, again, the way MLB fandom has actually grown over the decades. In addition to baseball games being available in so many forms in so many places - which the BC will not provide, maybe ever, and certainly not now, but which EI does provide right now.

Again, you made some good points, but I just disagree with this having been in MLB's best interests.

2007-04-05 05:42:37
72.   williamnyy23
71 Shaun...you also made some good points, but I still think you are thinking of this from the insular standpoint of absolute baseball fanatics (probably everyone on this list).

So, while you are correct in stating that a new Baseball Channel will offer nothing new for diehards like us, you have to consider what it will mean to everyone else. Even though EI already provides out of market games, only 180K homes subscribe. When the MLB channel launches (it will be one of the biggest launches in cable history), 40 million homes will be exposed. If the BC carries a few extra games a week, we who get EI wont notice, but the average fan who doesn't certainly will.

So, not only does baseball get more exposure to a much larger fan base, but it also gets carrier fees and better advertising rates (which ARE in part based on available households). It's a clear win all the way around.

One other point to make is that MLB doesn't see a dime from EI subscribers. The carriers pay a rights fee and then try to recoup that with subscriptions. So, even if all 180K cable subs canceled, MLB would still have received it's $700 million per year. In other words, there was no potential loss of revenue of revenue from core customers...unless you really think diehards were going to totally quit the game and prevent their children from following it.

70 I think MLB's position was clear all along...it was giving cable companies the chance to match a fair deal that it made with DirectTV. It wasn't, however, going to give in to cable because of the pressure exerted by a very small segment of its fan base. If Selig had listed to the media types and given in, MLB's future revenue growth would not look as bright as it does today. In reality, the only entity that threatened to keep baseball from its customers was the cable companies. Their last minute capitulation pretty much proves that.

2007-04-05 17:46:59
73.   Andre
William-

I wonder what would happen if MLB offered a way for fans to subscribe to JUST the games of their fave team. For example, YES for us Yankees fans, NESN for SOX fans, and regional sports networks for other teams' fans. They could offer it cheaper and I bet they'd pick up more fans that way. They could offer it as a trial for a year to see if that was the case. I think the thing that scares many people off of EI in the first place is the price. I don't care about 60+ games per week - I care about 1 game per night. I think this is another failure of MLB to recognize who their fans really are. MLB is not NFL - if MLB would stop trying to be the NFL, they might figure out a way to reclaim their stature as america's pastime.

2007-04-05 19:22:31
74.   Andre
I think the main reason William's arguments strike some of us as particularly aggravating is that he's arguing for the corporation (MLB/DTV) and against the interests of the consumer.

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