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INdemand 'matches' DirecTV offer for Extra Innings
2007-03-21 09:56
by Bob Timmermann

Or at least they say they are going to, according to a wire service report.

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.

Bob DuPuy of MLB withheld comment as did Chase Carey. Chase Carey's mustache also had no comment.

Thanks to bhsportsguy for the tip.

Headline has been altered to add quotation marks around "matches"

Update - It appears that MLB is less than impressed with the offer

"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."

2007-03-21 10:11:24
1.   williamnyy23
So, I guess the DirecTV accord wasn't a defacto exclusive deal after all? After months of being painted in such a negative light, I think this announcement vindicates MLB. After whining and complaining about how restrictive MLB's demands were, inDemand has found enough kindness in its heart to accept them. Or, more accurately, it has come to the conclusion that the deal still makes good business sense, and there was little remaining hope that MLB would cave to misguided pressure and renew the previous sweetheart deal.

I am glad that MLB stuck to its guns and happy to see the cable industry fail in its effort to leverage its monopoly-based power. Now, all that is left is for Dish Network to accept the same reality and then everyone will get to watch as many games as they want. Also, I wonder if all of the publicity around the deal will lead to a subscription boost in the Extra Innings package.

2007-03-21 10:22:12
2.   gmss0205
This is not a done deal. The deal offered by MLB and DirecTV said that In Demand must "agree to carriage rights to the MLB Channel proportionally equivalent to DIRECTV's commitment." In the statement from In Demand they said that they would provide the Baseball Channel to the same amount of subscribers as DirecTV. As cable has many more subscribers than DirecTV, this is not a "proportionally equivalent" offer, and that is where this deal is going to fall apart. Cable would have to put the Baseball Channel on the Basic Tear, meaning that millions more people on cable would have access to it, than on DirecTV. Cable will not have baseball this year because of that "proportionally equivalent" clause.
2007-03-21 10:44:06
3.   groucho
With all due respect -- I'd disagree with both of you. For starters, all that "whining and complaining" you refer to really forced MLB to soften the terms of their agreement and insert a clause allowing for the kind of competition that InDemand is bringing to the package.

In addition, I don't think with MLB facing a Senate hearing on March 27th, that they'll want to get too heavy into the fine print of what exactly "proportionality" means in this context.

The bottom line will be money. I don't think MLB will want to go into a Senate hearing on their anti-trust exemption complaining about money if the bottom line is pretty close.

Also -- I don't think InDemand wants to look forward with a sports package on cable that contains nothing but hockey and basketball.

It's in both MLB and InDemand's best interests to come up with an agreement and I predict that this will lead to something being signed and soon -- certainly before Monday.

Just my opinion -- and I could be wrong! Thanks for reading!

2007-03-21 11:28:42
4.   misterjohnny
I think gmss nailed it. Not that many cable customers buy MLB EI. Some of them will switch, but not enough to make a dent in the P&L of the big cable companies. But putting the Baseball Channel on a basic tier is a deal breaker for cable (and for MLB). MLB insists, Cable refuses. That is where it breaks down, and baseball will go to bat for the right to do this, knowing that the NFL has their backs (if it is anti-trust for MLB, it is also anti-trust for NFL Sunday Ticket, and NFL has lots of clout in DC). NFL is laying low right now, but I'm sure they are having their representatives talk to Sen Kerry and Sen Comcast, I mean Sen Specter.
2007-03-21 11:43:48
5.   williamnyy23
2 Good reading the article quickly, I glossed over the "proportionally equivalent" requirement.

It seems as if inDemand is simply lobbing the public relations ball back into MLB's court one week before the Senate hearings. Hopefully, MLB will not be swayed and continue to insist that cable meet its demands. While a vocal few have heaped scorn on MLB based on their own self interest, I always root against the cable industry every chance I can get.

3 MLB may have given in to the whining of a very small portion of its fans, but I don't think it has given ground to inDemand (nor should it). To me the question is quite simple: if cable values the Extra Innings property, it should be willing to pay for it. I know that's the same approach cable companies take with their customers, so they should be used to it.

2007-03-21 11:59:26
6.   dianagramr
I can think of at least 15 Basic Tier channels I could give up so my cable company can add the "Baseball Channel".

I still don't think MLB comes out smelling like roses with its rabid fan base (the ones who had EI on cable, and then had it yanked away for the sake of big money exclusivity). But it sounds like all parties might save some face in the end.

2007-03-21 12:17:11
7.   El Lay Dave
6 But do enough customers want to give up Lifetime and Oxygen? (D4P doesn't, for one.)

And, of course, the parties don't care about ☺ , they care about $$$.

2007-03-21 12:28:16
8.   Bob Timmermann
Update above.
2007-03-21 13:08:15
9.   shadowbox
williamnyy23 said "I always root against the cable industry every chance I can get."

Ok, so you're upset that your local cable company has a monopoly in your town and you switched to DirecTV or something like that. That's reasonable, a lot of people feel the same way. But how can you defend MLB in this situation? If MLB made exactly the same deal with cable and DirecTV was trying to make a last minute deal you would be blaming MLB and cable companies for keeping baseball off of DirecTV. I understand your hatred of cable companies. But this is just one more case of corporations screwing the consumer. Cable, satellite, and MLB. They are all to blame in this one.

2007-03-21 13:10:27
10.   El Lay Dave
Oily cable execs, Bud Selig and MLB owners, Chase Carey and the DirecTV dirtbags: what an ugly three-way cage match this is.
2007-03-21 13:15:53
11.   grandcosmo
My cable provider is Charter and they have not offered Extra Innings for the last 2 years after previously offering it. I called them a few minutes ago and the general manager at the local Charter office said that even if the In Demand offer was accepted he doubted that Charter would be on board.
2007-03-21 13:16:30
12.   Bob Timmermann
This has made you so angry that you have been throwing up for days!

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