Thursday, August 27, 2015
Since 2000, Major League Baseball Advanced Media has conducted a stealth campaign to take over every team domain, undoing any damage caused by its slow start in registration. MLB and other leagues have tried to snap up team sites not only to attract more traffic and ad revenue, but to avoid the unwanted attention that can come from a site like Cowboys.com, which became an “online dating community for men who enjoy the same country living lifestyle,” after the NFL’s Dallas franchise passed on it at auction.1 Both to streamline the process and to avoid hurting its leverage by letting potential sellers know there was big money behind its overtures, MLBAM has worked mainly through intermediaries like Monte Cahn, the founder of URL registrar Moniker.com and the president/director of RightofTheDot, LLC.2
According to Cahn, some of the URL squatters that MLB hoped to dislodge were “taking advantage of misspells and mistypes of famous brands,” like latter-day Twitter trolls who tweak prominent writers’ handles to break fake trades before the deadline. By placing ads on those sites, owners could profit from the traffic that flowed their way from baseball fans who hit the wrong keys. Most, Cahn says, “were unaware of the actual online domain registration laws vs. traditional trademark laws, so some registered names because they were fans of the teams or felt another fan would come and buy it from them, not knowing it could violate the trademark of the owner.” Still others owned sites with words that weren’t subject to trademark. “If you owned a domain like ‘Cardinals,’ your choice would be to just hold it, build a bird website — not that exciting or lucrative, probably — or sell it to MLB through us or other brokers,” Cahn says.
The decades-long scavenger hunt is close to complete. This February, MLB bought Rangers.com for $375,000. That triumph followed the 2013 purchase of Rockies.com (for an undisclosed price), the 2012 acquisition of Athletics.com, the 2010 addition of Angels.com (which went for $200,000 at auction), and the 2009 addition of Cardinals.com. Between 2004 and 2007, MLBAM acquired 12 team addresses, and had already brought 10 into the fold before that. That brings the total of MLB-owned team sites to 27, leaving three holdouts: Giants.com, Rays.com, and Twins.com.
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Posted: August 27, 2015 at 12:53 PM | 19 comment(s)
Monday, August 17, 2015
Welcome to the 21st century.
Several industry sources said the league is drafting deal documents with Fox, which holds the local media rights to 15 MLB teams. An agreement to offer authenticated local streaming of live games is expected to be in place by the start of the 2016 season.
It was a significant shift in MLB’s negotiating position that led to the breakthrough with Fox, which has been in active negotiations with the league for several years over the streaming service. The Toronto Blue Jays are the only team now streaming live games locally.
MLB moved off of its insistence that it host local games through MLB.com, something league executives wanted so they could ensure the quality of the video streams is high. But that stance proved the biggest roadblock to a deal, as cable operators would have needed to share subscriber data with the league during the user authentication process, something they were not willing to do.
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