The shit has hit the fan. What the hell was all the chest-thumping for, cable?? All it would’ve taken for you to have this stupid deal in the first place was to agree to carry the baseball channel, but not only did you have to make all of us get a collective ulcer for the past two months, you now match Direc TV’s terms in the infamous Extra Innings deal, just like that?

NEW YORK — Baseball’s “Extra Innings” package of out-of-market games might wind up staying on cable television.

IN Demand said Wednesday it will offer to match the terms of DirecTV’s $700 million, seven-year deal with Major League Baseball on behalf its owners, who are affiliates of the companies that own Time Warner, Comcast and Cox cable systems.

As part of the offer, iN Demand also said it would carry The Baseball Channel when it launches in 2009 to at least the same number of subscribers who will get the channel on DirecTV.

“As the current home for ‘Extra Innings’ for more than 200,000 cable subscribers, we have extended ourselves to do our best to be able to continue to provide this package to baseball fans and our customers,” iN Demand president Robert Jacobson said. “This offer meets all the conditions set forth by MLB last week. ”

Bob DuPuy, baseball’s chief operating officer, said he would have to find out details of iN Demand’s offer before commenting.

One thing I haven’t heard is whether Dish network will match the terms. I’m guessing since it’s a satellite service provider, it wouldn’t have a problem in offering space for the baseball channel.

But I have a feeling somewhere in this great nation, MLB’s New Media Goons are wringing their hands and grinning with greed; what a gruesome, bitter-sweet result.

Thanks again, forager.

Update [11:29 p.m.]: With all the day’s actions now nearing a close, the truth has been revealed. iN Demand was bluffing, and MLB’s New Media Goons called them out on it.

From an updated version of the AP story I linked to above:

“As the current home for Extra Innings for more than 200,000 cable subscribers, we have extended ourselves to do our best to be able to continue to provide this package to baseball fans and our customers,” iN Demand president Robert Jacobson said. “This offer meets all the conditions set forth by MLB last week.”

Not so fast, said DuPuy.

IN Demand offered to distribute The Baseball Channel to the 15 million homes projected to receive it on DirecTV — 80 percent of the company’s subscribers. Baseball wants it to be available to a larger figure — 80 percent of the digital households of iN Demand’s owners and affiliates, DuPuy said in his letter to the FCC.

“The communication sent to our office today by iN Demand is not responsive to that offer,” he said. “In spite of their public comments, the response falls short of nearly all of the material conditions (among them requirements for carriage of The Baseball Channel and their share of the rights fees for Extra Innings) set forth in the Major League Baseball offer made to them on March 9.”

DuPuy said the March 31 deadline to match remains.

What’s still startling is Baseball’s insistence that this exclusive deal is somehow for the good of the “entire fan base as whole.” DuPuy sent a letter to the FCC trying to play nice, saying that they believe the interests of a “relatively small minority” of fans were getting in the way.

I’m sorry but when you’re a anti-trust-exempted monopoly, the rule should be that you are obligated to cater to 100 percent of the fan base. And let’s not forget he’s using the term “relative small minority” very loosely. Are 500,000 iN Demand subscribers a “relatively small minority”?

With a Senate hearing set for March 27, Sen. John Kerry is our last hope.

One Response to “Breaking: Cable’s arm twisted too far back; INDemand matches DTV on Extra Innings deal – NOT!”

  1. Steve Carhart says:

    Time to take away baseball’s anti-trust exemption!

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