The outlook for baseball’s DirecTV deal is bleak. The more I hear about it, the more I’m convinced it’s going to go through and the rest of us who don’t want DirecTV will be screwed.

We either pony up however much it costs to switch and get the package, or we move because, as I’m sure Selig and his New Media Goons aren’t aware, there are restrictions on some apartment buildings, neighborhoods and subdivisions everywhere that don’t allow you to have a dish protruding out of your property.

Oh, but no, they’ll say, Extra Innings is not the ultimate resource for watching out of market games, we have this shiny new thing called MLB.TV that we want you to try. Never mind that we jacked the priced by $10 for the “standard” package ($89.95 this year) and are hoping we can rip you off even more for our “premium” package, at the very low price of $129.95. That’s just $10 less than what you would’ve paid for the MLB Extra Innings package!

Here’s the kicker; since I was a subscriber last year, I got a notice for automatic renewal to the thing a few days ago:

MLB.TV is back and better than ever…As a 2006 subscriber of MLB.TV, we are pleased to automatically renew your subscription for the 2007 season. You can still watch all 2,430 regular season games online (subject to blackout restrictions). Over 100 games live per week. No other service comes close!

That’s right! Because it’s the ONLY ONE! Baseball’s anti-trust exemption allows it to monopolize TV deals outside city markets.

As a reminder, your subscription to 2007 MLB.TV Yearly Package is being renewed at the same low price as last season – only $79.95 for the entire year (a $10 savings off the new 2007 MLB.TV Yearly Package regular price).

How nice! They gave me a 13% discount!

Well I would wax romantic about one of the few cool things I would look forward to, the ability to listen to the radio broadcasts for all games (even the infamous Fox Saturday blackouts), but then I flipped through this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, and found this nugget on a story by David Epstein.

Neither MLB nor DirecTV would comment, but the satellite jump appears driven by MLB’s desire for a 24/7 channel. Cable companies reportedly refused to include in their basic services – a promise DirecTV is more than willing to make. (The Baseball network would debut on the service in 2009.) MLB may also be trying to steer viewers toward its website, where, for $89.95 a year, fans can watch out-of-market games on MLB.TV. Last year the service had 300,000 subscribers, and some in the industry think baseball is planning to take MLB Advance Media, its online operation, public. Says Ben Silverman, an editor a the investment service site, “Investment bankers say [an IPO] could be successful, given the amount of business and the MLB brand attached.”

PUBLIC?! Are you serious?! Not only are they jacking up prices as they force fans to signup for their New Media vice, baseball wants to take their whole operation public so its fat pockets get even fatter. I wonder if I’m guaranteed some stock options in my subscription plan?

Where’s Sen. Kerry when you need him?

[Edit]: To clarify some things. MLB Advance Media is a private company, and, like any other private company, they have the right to take it public after its business has sustained significant growth. Think Google.

The problem is, Baseball is doing some shady things to hike up the value of the company. I doubt any of it is illegal per se, but it’s bloody annoying.

First of all, I don’t recall “agreeing” to anything last year that insinuated I was going to be automatically renewed for this year’s MLB.TV service. I had to log on to MLB.COM and repurchase my subscription last year (I’m waiting for an email response from them on this matter).

Second, I can’t stress enough what’s really happening: Baseball takes its TV package exclusively to DirecTV for a thick wad of cash ($700 mil), they then tell you you can sign up for MLB.TV, their great online service (and I can totally see them making the argument that the Web is the future, so this is the package you really want) if you don’t switch to DTV.

Meanwhile, they quietly increase prices by $10 for the standard MLB.TV package ($89.95); profiting from what some fans may see as a forced move to MLB.TV.

All this, in addition to the services MLB Advance Media already offers, will bolster the value of the company, which, thanks to Epstein and SI, we now know they plan to take public.

We all know Baseball has an anti-trust exemption; I doubt their sleazy tactics would sit nice with Congress if they didn’t have it.

No Responses to “Baseball’s New Media Goons Out for your Last Buck”

  1. Alejandro Leal says:

    By God! It’s a Zvee sighting!!!

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