Because Time Warner promised the Dodgers such an exorbitant sum, it wanted $4.90 per month from other providers for the right to broadcast SportsNet LA – an extra Abe that neither DirecTV nor any of their cable brethren were willing to charge their customers. So Dodgers games existed only for Time Warner customers, and the rest of the Los Angeles area was faced with a choice no company wants to foist on its consumers: get it illegally or don’t get it at all.
This is the consequence of sporting avarice, of teams valuing their TV rights above all and either ignoring or simply not understanding the changing landscape of content and how it was bound to turn this deal into a lemon. The Dodgers are still getting their money, and it’s enough that they’ve yet to shift their disappointment toward Time Warner for not fulfilling its end of the deal. Time Warner is taking a reported $100 million-a-year bath, which prompted it to cut the monthly asking price this week to a more reasonable $3.50 a month – a number at which DirecTV and others continue to balk.
Because the reality of content today is quite simple: You can get almost anything you want a la carte. And that is a powerful, emboldening truth bulldozing traditional cable companies’ business plans. Around 24 percent of Americans don’t have cable or satellite, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, and that includes 15 percent that are so-called cord cutters. The demographics on them, in particular, are frightening for baseball.
“Eventually we’ll get there when we have the hardware to be able to distribute 10 million concurrent streams in high quality fractured all over these devices,” said Bowman. “But you can’t sustain it [right now].” According to Bowman, MLBAM has peaked at two million concurrent streams.
It sure started out that way back in November, when Comcast pulled the plug on YES. Comcast didn’t go the usual route, making its case solely on a claim the carriage fee YES was asking for is exorbitant. YES was looking for a 33% increase from the $4.89 monthly carriage fee Comcast was paying.
Instead of focusing on the moo-la-dee, Comcast fired high-heat, saying most of its subscriber base was not even watching the Yankees on YES.
“....Over 90% of out 900,000 plus customers who receive YES Network didn’t watch the equivalent of even one quarter of those (130) games (on YES) during the season,” Comcast said. “Even while the Yankees were in the hunt for a playoff berth.”
MLB.TV streaming package for $84.99 per year, for the next five years.
Additionally, the full league-wide package will be offered for $109.99, a 15% reduction from the $129.99 cost in 2015. That package enables fans to view any game on any mobile device.
MLB has also agreed to lift streaming blackouts of in-market games by the start of the 2017 season, albeit with a couple caveats.
It only applies to networks owned by DirecTV (Root Sports), Comcast (CSN) and 21st Century Fox (Fox Sports regionals), a total of 25 regional sports networks that broadcast MLB games. That leaves out MASN ( Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals), YES (New York Yankees), SNY (Mets) and Time Warner Cable SportsNet LA (Los Angeles Dodgers), among others.
Users of MLB. TV must subscribe to their regional sports networks to watch in-market feeds. If every club doesn’t have in-market streaming for all clubs by the 2017 season, MLB would be prohibited from raising MLB.TV rates.
ESPN announced Wednesday that the 35-year-old Mendoza is now a permanent fixture in the Sunday prime-time booth. She’ll join another new analyst, Aaron Boone, alongside returning play-by-play voice Dan Shulman.
They replace Curt Schilling, who moves to Monday, and John Kruk, who returns to “Baseball Tonight.”
“It’s just crazy when I look back, and literally less than six months ago I had no idea what was going to happen after the Monday night games,” Mendoza says.
Just like that, she’s the most prominent woman calling national games for a major men’s sport — one of the few in the booth, not limited to sideline reporter. It’s an ascension that seems to have happened blindingly fast, and yet it was also a slow and steady climb.
An Olympic gold medalist and the sport’s premier hitter, Mendoza found herself needing a new career when softball was dropped from the Summer Games. The Stanford alum joined ESPN in 2007 and didn’t give much thought to calling baseball until the following year, when Kruk took part in Women’s College World Series coverage.
The case — Garber v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball — may not be the highest-profile lawsuit currently proceeding against MLB. But from the league’s perspective, it’s almost certainly the most important.
Long-time Fangraphs readers are probably already familiar with the Garber suit, as we’ve previously covered the case on a number of different occasions. By way of a brief recap, though, the lawsuit essentially alleges that MLB violates federal antitrust law by assigning its teams exclusive local broadcast territories (the same rules that also give rise to MLB’s infamous blackout policy).
Not only do the plaintiffs allege that the creation of these exclusive territories illegally prevents MLB teams from competing for television revenue in each others’ home markets, but they also contend the rules restrict teams from competing with the league itself in the national broadcast marketplace (preventing teams from signing their own national television contracts, for instance, or offering their own out-of-market pay-per-view services in competition with MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV).
Thus, the Garber suit presents a direct challenge to MLB’s existing television business model, one that could revolutionize the way in which baseball is broadcast in the future.
Yes, the 15 MLB teams with Fox TV deals were reportedly in talks to lift blackout restrictions for the upcoming season, so the Padres may soon be back on my list of viewing options. But even if reports are true, a mere half of the league is not good enough. If the powers-that-be want fans to support local teams, they must make it easier to do so. Otherwise, said fans and local teams don’t win, and that’s a shame.
It just so happens I enjoy watching a single team!
Specifically, in a recent court-filing in the Garber v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball lawsuit – in which the plaintiffs are challenging various MLB broadcasting practices under federal antitrust law – MLB’s lawyers have indicated that changes are in store for MLB.TV in the coming year. As the league’s attorneys explain on Page 9 of the document available here:
“beginning next season MLB will make single-team, out-of-market streams available for purchase (alongside the out-of-market package) on MLB.TV.”
It’s not immediately clear if this means that fans will be able to purchase a season-long subscription giving them access to all of a single team’s games, or if MLB will instead be reintroducing a single-game purchase option for fans (MLB.TV allowed you to purchase single game plans when the service originally debuted more than a decade ago). However, considering that both the NBA and NHL have recently created season-long, single-team streaming packages for their fans, it would seem likely that MLB intends to do the same in 2016.
Of course, it remains to be seen just how much MLB plans to charge for a single-team streaming service. In the NHL’s case, a single-team package costs only about $25 less than the league-wide package.
Adds Maury…“Pass the popcorn. The static’s on (again)”
File this one in the “broken record” department: prepare for yet another season of MLB’s blackout policy remaining in place.
The reason for the broken record? This story has been written repeatedly for years. A source at MLB said that for all practical purposes, the matter will likely not be addressed for the upcoming season.
For the uninitiated, the question is, “Why should I be concerned?” That depends on whether you are, or planning to, purchase MLB Extra Innings or subscribe to MLB.TV.
In a nutshell, there are two ways you can be hit with the “blackout blues”. National broadcast partners FOX and ESPN have exclusivity agreements in which no matter where you live, games are blacked out on MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV.
...And about the national blackout policy, any chance that happens soon? In speaking with sources close to the matter, when asked if the possibility it won’t be considered until contracts are renewed with ESPN and FOX, the reply was, “Probably.”
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission took a step that may lead to the elimination of all sports blackouts, of which the N.F.L.’s are the most notable. The commission said it was seeking public comment on eliminating its own rules that have effectively backstopped league policies by prohibiting cable and satellite operators from carrying a game already blacked out by local broadcast stations.
“We’re asking the government to get out of the business of propping up sports blackouts,” said Brian Frederick, executive director of the Sports Fans Coalition, which filed a petition in November to end the F.C.C.’s blackout rule with four other interest groups. “The F.C.C. has had the rule since the 1970s and has never taken a comprehensive look at it.”
This would be awesome, especially for all those poor baseball fans in Nevada.
One old sparky chair comes to mind! Picks up torch and pitchfork (sees Bon Iver won year-ender…throws away in disgust)...
But what if we discover that one of the players in the actual Hall of Fame did something far more abhorrent than using steroids or testosterone? Say, murder. Would the Hall of Fame seriously consider removing that player? I honestly don’t know.
Of course, time plays a role here. Conlin just won the Spink Award. In the display in the Museum, he’s featured. If Conlin were dead, or if he’d won the award 10 years ago, this whole sordid affair might be a three-day story. But now? With Conlin still around? With an extra-big photo of him in the Museum? With Jerry Sandusky still running free?
Right now, everything is so raw. If given a chance, I suppose I would split the difference. I would not rescind Conlin’s Spink Award, but I would hasten to make him less visible in Cooperstown. We’ve got a new winner: Bob Elliott. Maybe it’s as easy as making him the center piece of the exhibit a few months earlier than scheduled.
Or maybe Conlin should simply be defrocked. I don’t have the answer yet. I do anticipate a spirited discussion. Which will be more than welcome.
Even though it’s the off-season for the MLB, the MLB Network is hard at work leveraging social media by curating off-season chatter through their programming — and now they’ve rolled out a brand new social media area inside of their state-of-the-art Studio 3 in New Jersey.
The social area of the studio serves up 108-inch touchscreens for MLB Network talent to interact with fans through Facebook polls, Twitter and email. MLB Network has over 98,000 followers on Twitter and over 350,000 likes on Facebook.
...LR: How will social media be incorporated into the studio? On air?
MB: Fans can be part of the discussion and chime in on all the latest Major League Baseball news and rumors leading up to the 2012 regular season. As it has done throughout 2011, MLB Network will continue to interact with viewers and post questions and display select responses on-air in each studio show – including “Hot Stove,” “Clubhouse Confidential” and “Intentional Talk” this offseason – either on the in-studio touchscreen monitor or on-screen in our social media “ticker.”
We also want to bring fans the best and newest info shared by players and media via social media, so MLB Network on-air personalities will discuss tweets on-air, whether it’s a breaking news story or a photo that a player posted from a recent vacation. During the various Jewel Events on the MLB calendar, like Spring Training, Opening Day, the All-Star Game, Trade Deadline, Postseason and Winter Meetings, we monitor hashtags to stay on top of the most talked about storylines and display tweets and stories reported on Twitter from baseball beat writers.
Lou Piniella, a fan favorite as both player and manager, is deep in negotiations and close to signing a deal to return to the Bombers as an analyst for the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network. He also will likely serve as a spring training instructor.
According to industry sources, Piniella will do a limited number of appearances for YES in the broadcast booth and studio.
Piniella would join YES’ cast of analysts that includes Ken Singleton, John Flaherty, Paul O’Neill, David Cone, Al Leiter and play-by-play man Michael Kay.
...Now, sources said, Piniella wants to stay to baseball. It looks like the Yankees are providing that opportunity. This likely means Yankees fans will see Piniella in the YES booth when the Bombers play the Rays in 2012. The Yankees open the season April 6 in Tampa. Piniella should have a role in that telecast.
After leaving Tampa in 2006, Piniella spent a season working for Fox Sports on its major league baseball package.
Lifting from Mountaintop Motel Massacre’s sweet Evelyn here…“Please do not piss off Cardinal fans. They already are.”
Tim McCarver, that biased broadcaster, has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
From here on out, he’ll be referred to as a Hall of Famer.
But I’ll just call him Tim McCarver.
Because in my eyes, he is NOT a Hall of Famer. He is a dumbfounded broadcaster who, for whatever reason, has been on the air way too long.
...He is constantly negative toward the Cardinals and does not have any credibility. I can remember when he referred to former pitcher Donovan Osborne as Donovan “Os-burn.” Even during this past postseason, McCarver said the word strike was made up of five letters. Add all that to his sentence structure — that I’m sure makes English teachers squirm — that’s not excellence.
McCarver was a great ballplayer, I respect him for that. In that genre, he’s still not a Hall of Famer (didn’t have the numbers nor did he stand out), but he was certainly an impacting player for the teams he played on.
Losing out on the award this year is Texas Rangers broadcaster Eric Nadel, who is the best descriptive broadcaster there is; McCarver’s former teammate Mike Shannon, who is the most unique broadcaster in the game; and a large number of others who were so much more deserving.
I haven’t been this riveted to a TV show since Roy Thinnes got a severe pinky cramp and had to hide it during a whole The Invaders episode!
The resistance from—I guess you could call it the long-established media, since mainstream applies to the internet these days—seems to be fading. Writers such as Keith Law or Dave Cameron at Fangraphs have BBWAA membership, which is a wonderful, progressive development. But there’s still that challenge of making sabermetrics accessible to the those who are skeptical or intimidated. How do you approach that challenge on the show?
Kenny: “That’s always the challenge in knowing where the line is. I want any baseball fan to be able to tune into the show and have a passing knowledge of statistics to be able to watch the show and enjoy it. So I really take my time and take particular care to explain the methodology and to explain what some of these new analytical tools are and how they are used and why they work.
At the same time, I stress this is not math class, a lot of times I try to say, hey, this is wins above replacement. Try not to get caught up in what goes into the number, just look at what the numbers are telling us. We can look at OPS, we can look at weighted on-base average, let’s see what all the evidence is telling us. I don’t get caught up in one number because there is no magic number. A fan is already looking at the numbers. How do you know someone is a good hitter? He hits .300. He drives in 100 runs. Those are metrics. They’re just not the best possible metrics to analyze production and project future performance. There are other numbers for that and we’re going to teach people what they are and how to use them.”
...Before I let you go, I have to ask since he’s one of my favorite players and his Hall of Fame candidacy is cause of sabermetricians: Does Tim Raines belong in the Hall of Fame?
According to Spencer Fordin of MLB.com, Legendary Pictures announced yesterday that Harrison Ford will play Hall of Fame Dodgers’ executive Branch Rickey in a biopic about Jackie Robinson.
Many prominent actors have been mentioned for the role of Rickey over the years, including Robert Redford this past April, but Ford was apparently their top choice. His work in “Cowboys and Aliens” probably put him over the top.
As for Robinson, he’ll be played by the relatively unknown Chadwick Boseman. The 27-year-old has appeared in television shows such as “Lincoln Heights” and NBC’s “Persons Unknown.”
The film, which is appropriated titled “42,” is being written and directed by Brian Helgeland of “L.A. Confidential” and “Mystic River” renown.
Shia LaBeouf will play Branch Rickey’s son who takes over the movie for no reason.
The Angels have agreed to a new deal with Fox Sports worth at least $3 billion and expected to cover 20 years, two parties familiar with the deal said Thursday. The parties declined to be identified because the deal has yet to be officially announced.
Spokesmen for Fox and the Angels declined to comment.
Moreno last year opted out of a 10-year, $500-million contract with Fox, according to sports media consultant and former NBA TV President Ed Desser.
Desser, testifying Thursday in the Dodgers’ bankruptcy case, said the Angels and Fox agreed at the time to a one-year extension while the parties negotiated a new deal.
The Rangers agreed with Fox last year on a new contract worth an average of $80 million per year. The Angels’ deal is expected to top that in average annual rights fees — the rejected Dodgers’ deal had an average annual rights fee of about $85 million — and include an ownership stake in FSW.
The timing of this with the Pujols signing is curious. I wonder if Arte prodded Fox into upping the rights fees once he had Pujols in the fold. This would be much cooler if Fox was paying for an investment in the team, than Arte taking his windfall and turning around and spending it.
Regional sports networks. Twelve months ago Moreno was complaining about Carl Crawford money (seven years, $142 million.) What changed? He lined up a new local TV deal that could pay him almost twice the current annual rate of $50 million—even with the second-worst ratings in baseball. Sports programming is hot. It provides loads of content and, most importantly, content that is DVR-proof. Most sports programming is consumed live, not time-shifted, and that’s increasingly valuable to advertisers who prefer their ads actually be seen and not zapped. There is a reason the Rangers, who were in bankruptcy a year ago, and the Angels, who kept coming up short on free agents, are now superpowers—they lined up state-of-the-art massive TV deals. Once it was new ballparks that created the hierarchy of spending power in baseball. Now RSNs are the new oil wells. Next up at the TV windfall game: the Dodgers.
Sandy Alderson. The Mets GM had the two best lines of the meetings, first, in response to Reyes whining about not being wooed by the Mets, said, “Maybe I should have sent him a box of chocolates,” and then later, noting two of the three biggest contracts in baseball history (Alex Rodriguez and Pujols) were handed out at the same Dallas hotel, said, “There must be a strain of Legionnaire’s disease here.”
St. Louis fans. They don’t get to watch Pujols chase records and burnish his legacy as a Cardinals icon. But don’t blame the ballclub or even Pujols. Pujols essentially became too good and too expensive for the size of the market—particularly one that hasn’t cashed in yet on the new RSN boom like the Angels and Rangers. St. Louis still has six years left on its local TV deal. They could also start their own RSN, paralleling what the Yankees and Red Sox have done, but St. Louis ranks 24th out of the 30 media markets measured by Neilsen. The Cardinals might not have enough eyeballs for the TV calculus to work.
Hanley Ramirez. He was a problem when he was playing the position he wanted, shortstop. Do the Marlins really believe he will go peacefully to third base? Don’t rule out the possibility of a trade.
Tim McCarver, who has served as a national analyst on networks for three decades and simultaneously shined as part of broadcast teams with four big league clubs, has been selected as the 2012 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
McCarver becomes the second primary television analyst to win the Frick Award, joining Tony Kubek, who received the honor in 2009. McCarver will be honored as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2012, July 20-23, in Cooperstown, New York.
I thought it was just that he looked better next to Ralph Kiner…
As the lone comment sez…“Baseball Wives isn’t embarrassing enough?
Major League Baseball announced today that the MLB Fan Cave in 2012 will start the season with a group of fan contestants, some of whom will be eliminated throughout the season until one winner is crowned before the end of the World Series. Multiple contestants will begin the season in the MLB Fan Cave and watch every single MLB game each day while chronicling their experiences online through videos, blogs and social media. Along the way, they will compete against one another over the course of the baseball season in a series of challenges, with fans online helping decide who gets to stay in the Fan Cave and play host to the baseball stars and celebrities who will visit throughout the season. Entries – which include a series of essay questions and a video submission – are now being accepted at MLBFanCave.com, with a deadline of Friday, January 13.
The MLB Fan Cave will return to the 15,000 square foot location at 4th Street and Broadway in the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village that was formerly the home of Tower Records. After hosting a number of holiday-themed events this month, the MLB Fan Cave will shut its doors in January to be redesigned to feature new technology and interactive elements. The MLB Fan Cave is a unique event space and content factory mixing baseball with music, popular culture, media, interactive technology, and art. It also serves as a digital hub for all baseball fans, with a constant flow of online video and conversation via social media.
Well…at least they don’t have to worry about banning flannel. Huh, ohh.
Muscle shirts, ripped jeans and flip-flops—fine for the beach, not so fine for big league press boxes starting next season.
Baseball has become the first major pro league in North America to issue dress guidelines for media members, putting them in writing at the winter meetings.
The no-wear list also includes visible undergarments, excessively short skirts or anything with a team logo.
“This is not in response to any single incident,” MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said Tuesday.
...The media should dress “in an appropriate and professional manner” with clothing proper for a “business casual work environment” when in locker rooms, dugouts, press boxes and on the field, the new MLB rules say.
Banned are sheer and see-through clothing, tank tops, one-shouldered or strapless shirts or clothing exposing bare midriffs. Also listed in the guidelines are skirts, dresses or shorts cut more than 3-4 inches above the knee.
...At 81, former Marlins manager Jack McKeon has seen dress codes change a lot during more than a half-century in the game. Especially at warm-weather ballparks during the hottest summer months.
“I remember the old days, when even the people in Triple-A would wear a coat and tie,” he said. “Now, it’s casual. Less than casual, really,” he said.
“Today, it can look pretty sloppy,” he said. “But that’s not just baseball. It’s generational.”