Odds that politicians will try to make this a issue: 100% (Politicians are like that).
Occasionally, businesses make innocuous-sounding moves that are guaranteed to inflame at least a few of their most loyal customers.
It happened Thursday as Major League Baseball announced its own MLB Network, in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons, will air two division series games. Also, the two new wild-card games will air on TBS— no surprise, since TBS has carried all division series playoff action anyway until now. (Refresher: division series are best of five. The wild-card games pit teams from each league in single-game knockouts.)
So what? While MLBN will be the first league-owned channel to carry postseason action, NFL Network has aired regular-season games since 2006. The NFL turned down what might have been $400 million annually in network rights fees to instead keep games for its own channel to boost the channel’s visibility.
But MLBN’s playoff games will have a key difference. The NFL insists its cable games on NFLN and ESPN also air on TV in the home markets of teams in the games. MLB won’t allow that.
Talk about alienating some fans. Consider that about 60% of U.S. households get MLBN — 69 million of the USA’s 114 million TV households — so imagine what’s going to happen when, say, 40% of local fans won’t see their home team. In New York, that would mean nearly 3 million TV households would be shut out. No doubt they’ll take it quietly.