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Friday, March 29, 2013

Riverfront Times: Kotz: Screwball Economics: As another season begins, MLB faces an unsustainable future, and you’re picking up the tab

Meanwhile, baseball’s ratings continue to plummet, irrespective of month or matchup. Those record-low Series of the last seven years featured the game’s biggest attractions, from the moneyed villains of Boston and New York to storied franchises like St. Louis and San Francisco. None stanched the bleeding.

Regular-season games have declined equally. FOX’s Saturday audience has gone down an average of 800,000 since 2001. Sunday-night ESPN telecasts have shriveled by a million viewers in just the past six years.

In any other industry, such staggering drops would raise alarms of a rotting ship. One might presume that TV execs are screening Selig’s calls. But the exact opposite is happening.

ESPN, FOX and Turner recently struck deals that double their annual payments to MLB. The Los Angeles Dodgers will soon ink a 25-year pact for local rights that’s worth an estimated $7 or $8 billion.

If it all seems incongruent, born of the same economics that brought you bank bailouts and the housing crisis, that’s because it is. Baseball, you see, is expecting you to pick up the tab.

Ivo Shandor Posted: March 29, 2013 at 01:48 PM | 80 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business

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   1. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: March 29, 2013 at 08:30 PM (#4399438)
"Extremely popular, money-making sport is being ignored! Film at 11!"
   2. bobm Posted: March 29, 2013 at 08:49 PM (#4399450)
From Wikipedia:

Voice Media Group (VMG) is an American privately held media company headquartered in Denver, CO. VMG owns 11 alternative newspapers across the country. These offerings extend across print, mobile and web.[1]

Properties include the Village Voice, LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times,Houston Press, Dallas Observer, Riverfront Times, Miami New Times, Minneapolis City Pages,Broward New Times, and OC Weekly, as well as Voice Places, a site for local discovery.


MLB is not exactly beloved by corporate sibling Miami New Times, either.
   3. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: March 29, 2013 at 09:08 PM (#4399459)
What an ignoramus.
   4. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: March 29, 2013 at 11:27 PM (#4399555)
Well, that was poorly done.
   5. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 30, 2013 at 04:36 AM (#4399609)
So... what's the issue? That people watching baseball will have to pay more, until they decide it's too expensive and go watch football, or something?

ESPN, FOX and Turner recently struck deals that double their annual payments to MLB. The Los Angeles Dodgers will soon ink a 25-year pact for local rights that’s worth an estimated $7 or $8 billion.


I don't expect whomever owns the Dodgers over those same 25 years to sink all that cash into payroll, but if they spend half of that 7-8b on salaries, doesn't that suggest payroll can soon top 300m?

Since I only need the one yacht, if I owned an ML team I'd have a blast shelling out that kind of cash. 300m ain't what it used to be, but it still means taking, say, the Dodgers and adding four superstars on top of the offseason frenzy. That'd be a fun team to sit in the owner's box of.

   6. Joey B. Posted: March 30, 2013 at 10:35 AM (#4399660)
Already posted a few days ago.
   7. puck Posted: March 30, 2013 at 11:42 AM (#4399680)
Why is everyone so sure this isn't a bubble? Maybe not at the bank/housing level, but enough to cause trouble. Attendance is very healthy, yes. But don't the tv deals seem unsustainable?
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4399687)
Why is everyone so sure this isn't a bubble? Maybe not at the bank/housing level, but enough to cause trouble. Attendance is very healthy, yes. But don't the tv deals seem unsustainable?

If it's a 20-year deal, like with LA, then baseball doesn't really care, unless Fox actually goes bankrupt.

I think it's unclear as to whether this is sustainable or not. The logic for it is that live sports has become the only non-DVRable programming, and hence is pure gold for advertisers. The logic against is the subscription cable is going to be rapidly disintermediated by a la carte offerings.

In the latter case, I'm guessing MLB thinks they could buy back their rights from failing entertainment companies, and make a mint selling the games themselves on MLB TV and MLB.com.
   9. McCoy Posted: March 30, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4399692)
At what point is a bubble just sustained growth? TV revenue growth has been exploding for 30 years.
   10. AROM Posted: March 30, 2013 at 12:43 PM (#4399696)
Do you have more people to sell to? Do your current customers have rising incomes to keep the growth up? If the answer is no, then your bubble is guaranteed to pop.

Just because those weekly games are losing ratings, that doesn't mean fewer people are watching baseball. Let's see local channels, and don't forget to count mlbtv and extra innings viewers.
   11. JoeHova Posted: March 30, 2013 at 02:07 PM (#4399730)
If there is something to worry about regarding baseball it is that young people do not seem to care very much about it. MLB's popularity lags well behind the NFL and also the NBA among 12-24 year olds. If European leagues are included, soccer is also well ahead of MLB in popularity. That age group doesn't have the kind of income that MLB cares about yet, but they will (hopefully) at some point.

Obviously it's not a problem now, but if MLB continues to lose young fans, the bubble will burst eventually.
   12. Flynn Posted: March 30, 2013 at 02:09 PM (#4399733)
Do you have more people to sell to? Do your current customers have rising incomes to keep the growth up? If the answer is no, then your bubble is guaranteed to pop.


I don't buy the whole "Nobody under 30 cares!" narrative. But even if it was true, that doesn't hurt baseball. People 40 or 50 and older, where baseball interest is highest, are the richest demographic in the country. All those 25 year olds who hate baseball and love the NBA are bartending while living at home with their student loans in deferment. They might as well not exist for most advertisers because they don't have disposable income. It'll be years before they have any.

There is an interesting article here about whether the cable TV sports bubble is sustainable, but the author is trying to fit it into a narrative of baseball's decline rather than cable TV's decline. Baseball's going to be fine either way. Soccer on TV in England is a la carte with people paying up to $70 a month for the channels, and the sport is rolling in cash. If cable TV decides to get out of the sports business then a lot of viewers are going to get out of the cable TV business.
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 02:12 PM (#4399735)
This isn't unique to MLB. I think I read that CBS (and its partners) did not turn a profit on March Madness last year (but they expect to this year). But the prestige of having the games, and the platform that allows them to promo the hell out of all their other shows makes the investment more than worth it. Its especially crafty because CBS can push games onto TBS and TruTV which requires people to (a) have a cable subscription at a time where some people are opting out and (b) search out those channels if they previously were unaware of them, and watch promos for shows on those channels.

I imagine its the same with FOX/ESPN and MLB. The prestige of having the World Series and its platform to promo shows is a big deal, channels can inflate ad costs for sports because they can ensure viewers are watching the ads and not fast-forwarding through them, and perhaps more importantly, sports requires people to keep their cable subscription and keep the entire cable empire afloat.

This will be sustainable to a point where Google or someone makes it super easy to access the internet from your TV and this is done in mass numbers, and enough content providers operate outside the construct of the cable empire that makes it feasible for large portions of the population to "cut the cord." Then the whole thing falls down.
   14. Morty Causa Posted: March 30, 2013 at 02:21 PM (#4399736)
Baseball's demise is greatly exaggerated, true, but, still, it could be improved, both as a game and as an entertainment event. It should be faster and it could be made more telegenic. There's no pressure to do anything because everyone is making loads of money right now, but if its basis is being undercut, the bill will come due. Too, it's not just about making money--it's about hegemony.
   15. Tripon Posted: March 30, 2013 at 02:23 PM (#4399738)

This isn't unique to MLB. I think I read that CBS (and its partners) did not turn a profit on March Madness last year (but they expect to this year). But the prestige of having the games, and the platform that allows them to promo the hell out of all their other shows makes the investment more than worth it. Its especially crafty because CBS can push games onto TBS and TruTV which requires people to (a) have a cable subscription at a time where some people are opting out and (b) search out those channels if they previously were unaware of them, and watch promos for shows on those channels.


CBS has been putting the games on the internet the last few years, so there is no need to get a cable subscription.
   16. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 30, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4399741)
When the Big Ten Conference is admitting Rutgers solely for the cable TV families in the NYC area, you know you have a bubble on your hands.

There are two factors at work here, neither of which is compatible with, or will be present in, the medium and long-term equilibrium the makret is clearly heading toward. The first is the unique nature of cable TV, with its bundling, which has allowed cable companies and content providers to force people to pay for content solely to get other content. NYC cable homes will be forced to pay for the Big Ten Network whether they want it or not, if they want the other channels the cable company offers and that bundling is the very reason Rutgers is in the Big Ten.

The other has been mentioned here, and its the obviously temporary value add of live TV as opposed to non-live TV.

The ultimate equilibrium point will be the stand alone value of the event without these distortions and without intermediation. Just as there's no chance this equilibrium value of Rutgers football is worth what the Big Ten paid for Rutgers football, it's very unlikely that the actual demand to watch baseball on television is worth what is being paid for it in this market cycle.
   17. Flynn Posted: March 30, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4399745)
Baseball's demise is greatly exaggerated, true, but, still, it could be improved, both as a game and as an entertainment event. It should be faster and it could be made more telegenic. There's no pressure to do anything because everyone is making loads of money right now, but if its basis is being undercut, the bill will come due. Too, it's not just about making money--it's about hegemony.


I would like to make games quicker and it's annoying baseball hasn't enforced certain rules more. That said, the NFL recently had to adjust their start times for late games because an NFL game takes about three and a half hours now, and nobody seems to complain. Hoops and hockey take longer now too. TV in the end doesn't seem to care.

This gets less relevant every year, but I'm 27 and virtually every boy at my school was interested in baseball. Just because some of them liked soccer or basketball more didn't make that true. But the sports media is fixed on the narrative that baseball is declining and hangs on to national TV ratings thread like it's the only proof necessary.
   18. JoeHova Posted: March 30, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4399756)
This gets less relevant every year, but I'm 27 and virtually every boy at my school was interested in baseball. Just because some of them liked soccer or basketball more didn't make that true.


Where are you from? Anecdotally, this seems to depend almost entirely on where a person goes to school. When I was in middle and high school, baseball was almost totally irrelevant and nobody ever talked about it or played it. Meanwhile, the NFL and NBA were constantly talked about and we would meet up on weekends to play football and basketball. If you wore a basketball or football jersey that was even one day out of date, you would get treated like the scum of the earth. But nobody ever wore a baseball jersey, and if they had, no one would have known whether the season had started or ended, much less whether the player was still on the team or if the jersey was still the current one. My wife works in a school now where none of the kids even know what team is represented by the hat they're wearing.
   19. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4399757)
The logic against is the subscription cable is going to be rapidly disintermediated by a la carte offerings.


What is the incentive for this to happen?

has allowed cable companies and content providers to force people to pay for content solely to get other content.


Is that the right way to look at it, though?

If I pay $80 a month for cable, and only watch, say, ESPN, the History Channel, and TNT, you could say that I am paying for Oxygen, Lifetime, TLC and not getting anything in return. Or you could say that I am paying $80 a month for ESPN, the History Channel, and TNT, and getting the rest for free.

   20. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 03:06 PM (#4399762)

CBS has been putting the games on the internet the last few years, so there is no need to get a cable subscription.


The last few years it was free. This year, you get a four hour free window, then you need to enter a cable subscription number.

I have heard a rumor that next year the free four hour window is going away. There is also a rumor that no opening weekend games will be on CBS at all in the near future.
   21. JoeHova Posted: March 30, 2013 at 03:09 PM (#4399764)
What is the incentive for this to happen?

Nothing, yet. However, it seems that HBO may be making the first move. A couple years ago they started a Netflix-esque streaming service that allows people who subscribe to HBO to stream any HBO show or movie. It seemed to me that this was preparation for a time when they could offer HBO subscriptions to people without cable and lately their execs have been implying that that will happen. The problem for HBO if they do that will be that the cable companies may decide to punish them by not pushing HBO as much (or possibly even not offering HBO at all, though that seems unlikely). And even if it does work for HBO, there is no guarantee it would work for most other stations. However, it seems fairly clear that it could work for some. But, some of the channels are owned by companies that also own cable companies so they seem likely to be disinclined to attempt the a la carte model.
   22. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 03:15 PM (#4399765)
CBS has been putting the games on the internet the last few years, so there is no need to get a cable subscription.

Who wants to watch the game on a 19" monitor when you have a 46" TV in the den?
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 03:16 PM (#4399766)
What is the incentive for this to happen?

People don't want to pay $120 cable bill every month?
   24. JJ1986 Posted: March 30, 2013 at 03:19 PM (#4399768)
Who wants to watch the game on a 19" monitor when you have a 46" TV in the den?


It's not that hard to hook up a computer with HDMI to a tv.
   25. JoeHova Posted: March 30, 2013 at 03:21 PM (#4399770)
It's not that hard to hook up a computer with HDMI to a tv.

Also, you can mirror your computer or iPhone to an Apple TV, which is kind of cool.
   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 03:22 PM (#4399771)
It's not that hard to hook up a computer with HDMI to a tv.

It is for those of us who don't know what HDMI is :-)
   27. smileyy Posted: March 30, 2013 at 03:31 PM (#4399772)
Set-top boxes like the Roku make that gap easy to bridge.
   28. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 30, 2013 at 03:37 PM (#4399773)
If I pay $80 a month for cable, and only watch, say, ESPN, the History Channel, and TNT, you could say that I am paying for Oxygen, Lifetime, TLC and not getting anything in return. Or you could say that I am paying $80 a month for ESPN, the History Channel, and TNT, and getting the rest for free.

And does anyone seriously doubt that if bundling is eliminated, the most popular a la carte choices will jack their prices to the point where someone who watches only the half dozen or so more popular channels will eventually see little savings?

Does anyone also doubt that some of the better independent smaller channels will quickly disappear?

My first instinct is against bundling, since unless it's tournament or playoff time I seldom watch anything but TCM, PBS, ExtraInnings, ESPN, and MASN. But there are plenty of other channels I don't watch that much that I'd nevertheless miss if they were forced out of business by lack of bundling subsidization. And what would very likely happen with the removal of bundling is that stations like MHz TV, with terrific programming but a limited U.S. audience, would be struggling to be offered as an option by many or most of the cable companies. Bottom line is that I'd want to see an actual a la carte offering and price list before I'd want to drop the bundling concept.
   29. Flynn Posted: March 30, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4399774)
It is for those of us who don't know what HDMI is :-)


Basically if you have a relatively new laptop you can hook up an HDMI cable to it and connect it to your HD TV with no loss in quality. The sound comes in too (S-Video cables used to send the picture but not the sound).

You can't do much with your remote like pause stuff, but it's pretty cool. I use it a lot to stream soccer games - connect it to the TV and bam, it's like watching it on TV. But free!
   30. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 03:44 PM (#4399775)

People don't want to pay $120 cable bill every month?


I don't want to pay $3.95 a gallon for gas, and yet that has stubbornly not resulted in lower gas prices ;-)
   31. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4399776)
Basically if you have a relatively new laptop you can hook up an HDMI cable to it and connect it to your HD TV with no loss in quality.


Unless you're me. (Actually, I think it's the latest cable I bought, since the connection worked just fine before that. I've just been too lazy to switch it out with the HDMI that connects my Blu-Ray player to my TV.)
   32. Flynn Posted: March 30, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4399777)
Andy I don't really think there's any question it would be structured so you end up paying pretty much the same thing for cable.

I mean, if ESPN or the regional sports networks price themselves at $14.99 a month, it only takes having those two, plus MLB at $4.99 a month, plus some bundled packages (if England is any guide some channels will still be bundled - but sports stands alone) at $9.99 each to get you to the $80 Americans are paying anyway for cable. The people who genuinely don't watch much TV will come out ahead, but the TV junkies, especially TV sports junkies, who think they can just pick the 10 channels they watch all the time and save are going to be gravely mistaken.
   33. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 03:54 PM (#4399781)

Does anyone also doubt that some of the better independent smaller channels will quickly disappear?


The notion of a "channel" is going to be pretty outdated someday. The barrier costs to actually make a show aren't all that great, and there are a ton of shows on the internet (of varying qualities) right now. There will be a point where you will get shows directly from those making the shows, with no use for the middleman.

The problem at that point will be the same one the music industry is facing - how do these content producers get paid?
   34. smileyy Posted: March 30, 2013 at 04:13 PM (#4399787)
how do these content producers get paid?


Right now, by Amazon or Hulu or Netflix. Those might be your new "channels".
   35. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4399791)

The notion of a "channel" is going to be pretty outdated someday. The barrier costs to actually make a show aren't all that great, and there are a ton of shows on the internet (of varying qualities) right now. There will be a point where you will get shows directly from those making the shows, with no use for the middleman.

The problem at that point will be the same one the music industry is facing - how do these content producers get paid?


I sure hope not. The last thing I want to do is to have to search across 20 internet sites for a TV show to watch at 8 PM. Most of the time I don't turn the TV on to watch a specific show.

The Netflix model works OK for 2-hours movies. But for a 30 min TV show, it'll take you more time to find it than to watch it.
   36. Morty Causa Posted: March 30, 2013 at 04:36 PM (#4399793)
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4399796)
Why is television, internet, phone service so bad--this guy says we're way behind Eunrope and Japan ins service, and we pay alot more. Anybody read his book.

Monopolies and oligopolies.

Imagine how high cable bills would be if DirectTV and Dish hadn't come along.
   38. JoeHova Posted: March 30, 2013 at 04:56 PM (#4399803)
The Netflix model works OK for 2-hours movies. But for a 30 min TV show, it'll take you more time to find it than to watch it.

That's interesting, I actually think Netflix works better for shows than for movies. I mean, it's fairly easy to DVR a movie or watch it when it's on. It's much harder to DVR or watch a run of TV shows, especially if you're looking for specific episodes. TV shows can be hundreds of hours long and take years to re-run on cable.
   39. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 05:00 PM (#4399806)
That's interesting, I actually think Netflix works better for shows than for movies. I mean, it's fairly easy to DVR a movie or watch it when it's on. It's much harder to DVR or watch a run of TV shows, especially if you're looking for specific episodes. TV shows can be hundreds of hours long and take years to re-run on cable.

If you want to view a series like a movie, all in a row, yes.

I'm talking about finding a 30 min show to watch before the Yankees come on; spontaneous TV viewing/channel surfing.
   40. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 30, 2013 at 05:22 PM (#4399812)
Andy I don't really think there's any question it would be structured so you end up paying pretty much the same thing for cable.

I mean, if ESPN or the regional sports networks price themselves at $14.99 a month, it only takes having those two, plus MLB at $4.99 a month, plus some bundled packages (if England is any guide some channels will still be bundled - but sports stands alone) at $9.99 each to get you to the $80 Americans are paying anyway for cable. The people who genuinely don't watch much TV will come out ahead, but the TV junkies, especially TV sports junkies, who think they can just pick the 10 channels they watch all the time and save are going to be gravely mistaken.


Completely agree. De-bundling is one of those solutions that looks better on paper than it almost certainly would turn out to be in practice.

------------------------------------------------

The notion of a "channel" is going to be pretty outdated someday. The barrier costs to actually make a show aren't all that great, and there are a ton of shows on the internet (of varying qualities) right now. There will be a point where you will get shows directly from those making the shows, with no use for the middleman.

I'm seriously not seeing that sort of solution for channels like MHz TV, with its terrific mix of commercial-free movies, TV shows and features from all over the world. It comes as part of the FIOS package, but how many people would be likely to pay the amount necessary to keep it going if it were de-bundled, and how would they support such programming outside the framework of a cable provider in a way that a mass audience could even find out about it? Perhaps it's possible, but color me skeptical.


The problem at that point will be the same one the music industry is facing - how do these content producers get paid?

The other problem will be how do those other (former) channels get known?
   41. Swedish Chef Posted: March 30, 2013 at 05:29 PM (#4399814)
Why is television, internet, phone service so bad--this guy says we're way behind Eunrope and Japan ins service, and we pay alot more. Anybody read his book.

You got better cable overall in the US, with more channels and less events relegated to subscription channels.

Internet is mostly better and cheaper in Europe (and even more so in Japan), unless you live in Kansas City.

Phones may seem the better deal in Europe, but it's not by that much, and crossing borders is expensive as hell here, so you get far more geographic coverage for your dollars.
   42. Jay Z Posted: March 30, 2013 at 05:30 PM (#4399816)
I'm talking about finding a 30 min show to watch before the Yankees come on; spontaneous TV viewing/channel surfing.


With the DVR we never do this anymore. Our household also DVRs sporting events, since we have young children and everything is timeshifted anyway.

If the ball game starts at 7, and it's 7:20, then we'll watch a half hour DVRed show and start the ball game at 7:45 so we can avoid the commercials for both.
   43. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 05:31 PM (#4399818)
The people who genuinely don't watch much TV will come out ahead, but the TV junkies, especially TV sports junkies, who think they can just pick the 10 channels they watch all the time and save are going to be gravely mistaken.


I'm not a TV sports junkie. I'm the sap who ends up subsidizing TV sports junkies. And reality TV junkies. And junkies who speak Spanish, apparently. Hell, those 80 Spanish channels have negative value for me. Between Netflix and a few other internet-based sites of questionable status I could easily get by with 10 HD channels on cable plus the broadcast networks.
   44. Greg K Posted: March 30, 2013 at 05:59 PM (#4399836)
I've got to say I am thoroughly enjoying my current Sports and TV set up.

mlb.tv - £90 a year
lovefilm (uk equivalent of Netflix) - £5 a month
sky go - £5 a month (for the months Game of Thrones is on air)

That pretty much covers all my television needs.

EDIT: I've always said I'd look into getting the NHL's online package if the Leafs ever make the playoffs. But that was really just empty talk, since I was pretty sure that wasn't possible in this universe. Getting dangerously close to having to look into the cost...though as I recall the NHL does not have the equivalent cheap playoff deal MLB does.
   45. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 06:04 PM (#4399838)
With the DVR we never do this anymore. Our household also DVRs sporting events, since we have young children and everything is timeshifted anyway.

If the ball game starts at 7, and it's 7:20, then we'll watch a half hour DVRed show and start the ball game at 7:45 so we can avoid the commercials for both.


I don't really care enough about any TV show or sporting event to own a DVR. Why wouldn't I just start the game 20 minutes late?

As an aside, I'm continually shocked at how child rearing has changed since I was a kid. Having young children never stopped my dad from watching the Yankee game at 7:30. I was welcome to join him, or amuse myself.

Of course, our bedtimes were around 11:30 PM from the time we were 1.

If I ever have children we're going to be viewed as a monster, b/c I'm adopting 1950's child rearing full-bore. I'll pay the traffic tickets rather than put an 8 y.o. in a car seat.
   46. Greg K Posted: March 30, 2013 at 06:08 PM (#4399841)
I don't really care enough about any TV show or sporting event to own a DVR.

This is generally how I feel, but replace "DVR" with "cable".

Or, there are few enough TV shows (Game of Thrones) and sporting events (baseball) that I can substitute them in piece-meal at a much cheaper rate.

It's probably good to have a wide variety of delivery systems available for people of all tastes. It is the one way it is beneficial living in the UK - no blackouts. If I lived in Canada, I'm not sure which direction I'd go...get mlb.tv and watch other games live, Jays on delay...or get cable pretty much exclusively to watch Jays games. Tough call.
   47. Greg K Posted: March 30, 2013 at 06:10 PM (#4399843)
Why wouldn't I just start the game 20 minutes late?

Presumably to skip the ads. I think you would need more than 20 minutes of lee-way to miss out on all the ads of a baseball game.

I actually don't mind ads too much myself. It always confuses me when mlb.tv doesn't put ads on their streams.
   48. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 06:14 PM (#4399846)
Presumably to skip the ads. I think you would need more than 20 minutes of lee-way to miss out on all the ads of a baseball game.

I actually don't mind ads too much myself. It always confuses me when mlb.tv doesn't put ads on their streams.


Yeah, I'm almost always multi-tasking when I watch TV, so I don't care about commercials. Outside of movies, the screen almost never has my full attention.

And in baseball, why not have ads? You've got 3 minutes of down-time between innings anyway.

I don't really care enough about any TV show or sporting event to own a DVR.


This is generally how I feel, but replace "DVR" with "cable".


Yeah, but there's enough times when I want to watch something, that DirectTv is worth it. For ~$100 a month, if I amuse myself for 1/2 hour a day, it's worth it.
   49. Walt Davis Posted: March 30, 2013 at 06:22 PM (#4399851)
I don't want to pay $3.95 a gallon for gas, and yet that has stubbornly not resulted in lower gas prices ;-)

Actually it has. The rest of the world is paying a lot more per gallon (it's about $6 per in Oz which is relatively cheap compared to the rest of the world). US politicians are so freaked about the anger of their constituency over fuel prices ... and so appreciative of the nice donations of oil companies ... that the price is kept low.
   50. Greg K Posted: March 30, 2013 at 06:22 PM (#4399852)
Yeah, I'm almost always multi-tasking when I watch TV, so I don't care about commercials. Outside of movies, the screen almost never has my full attention.

Agreed. If baseball games didn't have ads this degree would be taking me an extra two years.
   51. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4399853)
Agreed. If baseball games didn't have ads this degree would be taking me an extra two years.

Are you really going to watch the players walk on and off the field, and play catch during the between inning break?

It makes no sense to NOT have ads in baseball. They could be shorter, but even beer league softball has 2 minutes between half innings.
   52. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 06:29 PM (#4399854)

Actually it has. The rest of the world is paying a lot more per gallon (it's about $6 per in Oz which is relatively cheap compared to the rest of the world). US politicians are so freaked about the anger of their constituency over fuel prices ... and so appreciative of the nice donations of oil companies ... that the price is kept low.


That's driven by taxes. Gasoline is a commodity, the US doesn't get it any cheaper than the market price.

The difference is the U.S. has Federal and State taxes that are generally <$1/gallon. In many other countries, it's $3-4/gallon.

Example: For March, 2013 NYMEX gasoline prices have averaged about $3.05/gal, while retail prices have averaged about $3.80/gal.

Any foreign country is free to buy gasoline on the NYMEX, and if they don't levy any taxes, they can probably sell gas to their people for ~$3.50/gal.
   53. JoeHova Posted: March 30, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4399855)
I actually don't mind ads too much myself. It always confuses me when mlb.tv doesn't put ads on their streams.

Me too. It's disorienting for there to just be silence. It actually heavily detracts from my enjoyment of watching the games. I wish they would just broadcast ambient ballpark noise or something if they are dead set against showing the local commercials for whatever reason.
   54. Greg K Posted: March 30, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4399856)
Are you really going to watch the players walk on and off the field, and play catch during the between inning break?

Sorry I should have been clearer.

If I chose to skip the commercial breaks in baseball games, then...
   55. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 06:35 PM (#4399858)
Sorry I should have been clearer.

If I chose to skip the commercial breaks in baseball games, then...


Ah, got it. I just don't care enough to keep FF-ing, and missing, and rewinding.
   56. Dan Evensen Posted: March 30, 2013 at 06:52 PM (#4399863)
I don't want to pay $3.95 a gallon for gas, and yet that has stubbornly not resulted in lower gas prices ;-)

In most of the United States, if you refuse to purchase gas and decide not to ride your car, you might not be able to make it to work, or be able to purchase groceries. If you decide you don't want to pay $120 a month for a huge television package, you'll have more time to do something else. The two things are fundamentally different: one is a necessity, the other an overpriced luxury.

MLB.tv remains a good deal. I like the radio package best. Of course, I'm living on the other side of the planet, where watching a live baseball game would require me to take the day off work. The internet up here is also extremely slow, to the point where you can't stream live video.

If you really want to find a free alternative, there are still a number of websites that offer live streams of every game. There are also numerous sports related torrent trackers, both private and public.

The internet and cable out here in China is inferior to the equivalent anywhere I've been in the United States, though it's a little bit nicer if you get the foreigner specific package (with Phoenix TV, ESPN, StarSports, Discovery, AXN, NatGeo and so on -- the Chinese specific package won't feature any English language channels other than CCTV-9). ESPN / StarSports are run out of Hong Kong, I believe, and frequently show reruns of NASCAR, snooker, MotoSport and other sports that I find incredibly dull. There are live baseball games occasionally, though generally the timing is horrible (i.e. the game starts at 8:00 AM on Monday morning, with no later rerun).

I haven't been to Japan. I can say, though, that the internet in South Korea is far superior to anything affordable I've seen in the United States. The television is also much better, assuming you speak Korean and have the time to invest in a drama or three. In mainland China, television dramas are mostly extremely nationalistic, anti-Japanese shows set in World War II. And, of course, the Chinese internet remains censored, though you can sometimes get through the YouTube block without a VPN. Retrosheet was blocked for a little while, though I'm not sure why.

By the way, wasn't this exact same article printed in a Miami newspaper a week ago or so?
   57. Tripon Posted: March 30, 2013 at 07:08 PM (#4399872)

Me too. It's disorienting for there to just be silence. It actually heavily detracts from my enjoyment of watching the games. I wish they would just broadcast ambient ballpark noise or something if they are dead set against showing the local commercials for whatever reason.


If MLB wishes to block local ads, then what they really need to do is cut out the dead air time for the broadcast after the game ends. You either pay an intern to manually shorten the broadcast, or you get a program that does it. No reason for deadtime on already broadcasted games.
   58. cardsfanboy Posted: March 30, 2013 at 07:21 PM (#4399879)
Baseball's demise is greatly exaggerated, true, but, still, it could be improved, both as a game and as an entertainment event. It should be faster and it could be made more telegenic. There's no pressure to do anything because everyone is making loads of money right now, but if its basis is being undercut, the bill will come due. Too, it's not just about making money--it's about hegemony.


I agree it can be improved. Definitely some improvement could be done by improving the time of the average game, and of course not ever allowing a Fox executive to make an on camera field decision ever.(break the ####### zoom button off of their cameras would be a start)

If there is something to worry about regarding baseball it is that young people do not seem to care very much about it. MLB's popularity lags well behind the NFL and also the NBA among 12-24 year olds.


NFL has done a pretty good job of adding female fans to their core audience, and as a general rule, they have almost no interest in it as 12-20 year olds. I think people put too much value onto the sports popularity with youth. As a kid our favorite sports were baseball, football and soccer, and I couldn't care less about soccer as an adult. The best way to gain audience is regional pride, not through indoctrination when they were younger. It's in all sports best interest to have competitive teams in all markets over a 5 year period. I hate basketball, but every year around March Madness, I keep an interested eye on Mizzou(and SLU this year)

It is for those of us who don't know what HDMI is :-)


I know you are "somewhat" joking, but HDMI is on the short list of easiest connectors made. It's easy to plug in(no potential of bent pins like with VGA), it requires one cable(sound is transmitted through the cable along with picture) etc. The hardest part is switching your computer to sending a signal out through it(assuming a laptop, it's usually a function option..mine it's F4.) When they put HDMI on computers, it's one of the few times they did something nearly 100% right in technology development.

And does anyone seriously doubt that if bundling is eliminated, the most popular a la carte choices will jack their prices to the point where someone who watches only the half dozen or so more popular channels will eventually see little savings?


That is the part I'm worried about. I can justify $1-2 a month for a channel, maybe. But in this day of rounding, you know the most popular channels will be $5 a month or even $10 a month, and at that point in time the purpose is defeated. Especially when you are paying that price for commercial channels.

Does anyone also doubt that some of the better independent smaller channels will quickly disappear?

Absolutely. I like the concept of ala cart, not sure I would like it in practice.

I sure hope not. The last thing I want to do is to have to search across 20 internet sites for a TV show to watch at 8 PM. Most of the time I don't turn the TV on to watch a specific show.


That is the theory behind google tv. One interface to massive number of tv apps.

I actually don't mind ads too much myself. It always confuses me when mlb.tv doesn't put ads on their streams.

It confuses me because it seems like they are missing out on an easy stream of revenue. Although the constant repeating of the same commercials when they do have ads, is somewhat annoying. (I'm ready to beat up that MLB video game announcer)
   59. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: March 30, 2013 at 08:00 PM (#4399900)
And does anyone seriously doubt that if bundling is eliminated, the most popular a la carte choices will jack their prices to the point where someone who watches only the half dozen or so more popular channels will eventually see little savings?

They shouldn't. If someone is willing to pay $100 for cable and doesn't watch 70% of the channels, the cable company is aware that the person in question is willing to pay $100 for 30% of the channels.

And let's not forget many of the channels have the same owner. Even if the cable company offers a la carte, companies like Time-Warner, Comcast, and Disney aren't going to suddenly start selling their channels individually -- if you want Cartoon Network, you certainly ain't getting it if you're not getting TBS, TNT, and CNN. And if you mostly watch esoteric fare, your Rococo Architecture Breaking News or whatever won't stay in business in an opt-in situation if people are unwilling to pay much more than the current per-subscribe cost that everyone is paying.

There probably are some people who have very specific channel-watching configurations in which they'd save serious money, but most are unlikely to do so.
   60. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: March 30, 2013 at 08:02 PM (#4399901)
Although the constant repeating of the same commercials when they do have ads, is somewhat annoying. (I'm ready to beat up that MLB video game announcer)

The Home Deput ads with the whistling and a birdhouse last season had me on the verge of opening my veins in a warm bath.
   61. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 30, 2013 at 09:44 PM (#4399933)
Do you have more people to sell to? Do your current customers have rising incomes to keep the growth up? If the answer is no, then your bubble is guaranteed to pop.

Just because those weekly games are losing ratings, that doesn't mean fewer people are watching baseball. Let's see local channels, and don't forget to count mlbtv and extra innings viewers.


There's a vast area, though, that takes in bubbles, real growth, mild decline.... The Dodger deal might simply be the peak, with a whole lot of smaller, slightly cheaper deals to follow. We might be on a plateau, or going into a period of slight but sustainable decline. Doesn't have to be a bubble, and even if Fox goes into receivership in three years baseball will still be here.
   62. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: March 30, 2013 at 09:52 PM (#4399937)
My frustration is the lack of competitive options within the cable industry. It's better than it used to be of course but it's such a pain in the ass to switch from one provider to the next.

I'm also rather surly at the moment regarding my cable company (Verizon) and this seems like a place to ##### about it. Pardon me while I vent.

Recently Verizon added a new channel I very much want (BeIN Sports). To get this channel it appears that I need to move up from one level of service to the next. Fair enough, I want more, I have to pay more I get that. So I started out trying to upgrade my service online. Online chatting with the agent (a real person!) I spent 40 minutes and never was able to get the answer to the question "how much does it cost?" The next day I went to a Verizon store and for 20 minutes hung out with a representative who attempted to answer that question for me and never could.

Seriously, I want to give these people more money, I just want to know how much more and they can't freakin' tell me the answer? It seems from talking to these two people that the fundamental problem is a question of one cost for extending my contract and another if I don't extend my contract. That's fine but how tough is it to say "$20 a month if you don't extend, $10 a month if you do." Apparently Verizon cannot do that.

End of rant, back to your regularly scheduled discussion.

(Oh, and I agree that a la carte would not change the cost if not raise the cost of cable TV).
   63. bobm Posted: March 30, 2013 at 09:56 PM (#4399939)
[56] By the way, wasn't this exact same article printed in a Miami newspaper a week ago or so?

Yes it was, in a paper that is a corporate sibling. See [2] above.

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/newsstand/discussion/miami_new_times_kotz_the_screwball_economics_of_major_league_baseball
   64. Morty Causa Posted: March 30, 2013 at 10:05 PM (#4399947)
Definitely some improvement could be done by improving the time of the average game, and of course not ever allowing a Fox executive to make an on camera field decision ever.(break the ####### zoom button off of their cameras would be a start)


Does MLB demand to have input in how the games is covered--I mean a game is covered technologically. Why can't it demand better production values--extra camera, improvements so as to make it easier to follow the ball and the play. Things like that. And, of course, demands should be made on MLB to make the last innings not last forever. A way to reduce the use of relievers.
   65. Tripon Posted: March 30, 2013 at 10:54 PM (#4399974)
There's always the talk about how 20 and somethings aren't watching/paying for cable, which is true. But they're definitely paying for internet access, which comes from the same source most likely.

Google fiber can't come soon enough.

Edit: Also, Youtube is likely going to start charging for its most popular channels soon. (Think of the Nerdest with Chris Hardwick, Epic Meal Time or the Phillip DeFranco show). That's going to be interesting if people would be willing to pay for previously free content.
   66. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: March 30, 2013 at 11:29 PM (#4399988)
The notion of a "channel" is going to be pretty outdated someday. The barrier costs to actually make a show aren't all that great,


Eh, you could throw a HGTV-style show up over IP. But for HD-quality broadcast, you need modulators and compression equipment and an engineering staff. You have to pay for satellite time. And you have to pay for a sales force to sell your product. If you broadcast stuff in the complex world of sports, you need some specialists to just look at contracts and see what you can legally broadcast. Oh, and you need a staff of lawyers to advise your production department, as well as to defend you against lawsuits. And now you're of a sufficient size to require an HR department, a company gym, a cafeteria, a Facilities department, physical infrastructure, and some other stuff.

   67. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 30, 2013 at 11:30 PM (#4399990)
Google fiber can't come soon enough.


Yeah, like Google is going to charge less. Never start a price war when you can be part of a cozy oligopoly.
   68. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: March 30, 2013 at 11:32 PM (#4399993)
There is significant research that commercial advertising is much more effective with live sports than with canned programming. To some extent, sports is "DVR-proof". A lot of the audience for live sports does not have the remote in their hands, and are subjected to the full running time of commercials.

That's one thing that the author either neglects to mention or doesn't know - the reason that TV rights bidding has gone up over the last thirty years has a lot to do with the changing dynamics of the TV landscape - how money is made in the industry - rather than the product that these sports are selling.
   69. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: March 30, 2013 at 11:53 PM (#4400008)
Also, Tripon, as soon as YouTube starts making people pay, the content providers like Hardwick start to demand money for production values and payrolls. Why should YouTube make all the profit? If Hardwick is that popular, he can sell his shows on iTunes for like $1 an episode. Or get a deal with Netflix.
   70. Tripon Posted: March 31, 2013 at 12:01 AM (#4400010)


Yeah, like Google is going to charge less. Never start a price war when you can be part of a cozy oligopoly.


No, but they're going to offer a better service for the same price. My roommates and I are already paying $64 for internet access from COX. I'd gladly pay $60+ per month for Google Fiber just for the potential of 1 gig+ download speeds.
   71. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 31, 2013 at 01:52 AM (#4400037)
And does anyone seriously doubt that if bundling is eliminated, the most popular a la carte choices will jack their prices to the point where someone who watches only the half dozen or so more popular channels will eventually see little savings?

They shouldn't. If someone is willing to pay $100 for cable and doesn't watch 70% of the channels, the cable company is aware that the person in question is willing to pay $100 for 30% of the channels.


Sounds like a really win-win for the cable companies. And yet they've studiously avoided doing so, every single one of 'em. And that's sorta funny, because the cable companies seem to appreciate the overall value of a la carte pricing when they're spending their own money. Why not let the market decide what customers really want?
   72. Swedish Chef Posted: March 31, 2013 at 04:41 AM (#4400053)
They shouldn't. If someone is willing to pay $100 for cable and doesn't watch 70% of the channels, the cable company is aware that the person in question is willing to pay $100 for 30% of the channels.

You aren't only paying for what you watch, but for what you might watch. If NYT cuts out all the articles you never read anyway and charges the same, it's not irrational to be unhappy about that.
   73. Swedish Chef Posted: March 31, 2013 at 04:54 AM (#4400054)
MLB.tv is a much better deal overseas, as there are no blackouts except in Japan.

Retrosheet was blocked for a little while, though I'm not sure why.

China is going to build their baseball on the true path of small ball and subversive influences from imperialistic sabrmetrics peddlers need to be stamped out.
   74. Drexl Spivey Posted: March 31, 2013 at 06:29 AM (#4400061)
And does anyone seriously doubt that if bundling is eliminated, the most popular a la carte choices will jack their prices to the point where someone who watches only the half dozen or so more popular channels will eventually see little savings?


That wouldn't be the only problem. Companies that own multiple channels would spread their sports programming over all of their channels.

   75. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: March 31, 2013 at 08:21 AM (#4400068)
One thing to note is that the Dodgers deal is not the "peak" of anything. There are many equally or even more outlandish deals, they're just non-public. The reason the Dodgers deal sticks out is because the new owners made a fuss over it, the process was largely in the Bankruptcy Court so it was unusually transparent, But there are many other really ridiculous deals out there. The best way to think of sports teams is that they are mainly owned by their particular regional sports network, and then you have a figurehead owner who allows for the illusion that Fox or Time Warner or Disney doesn't own 10+ teams over 3 leagues.
   76. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 31, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4400093)

Yeah, like Google is going to charge less. Never start a price war when you can be part of a cozy oligopoly.


They will charge less because the point of Google Fiber isn't to make money providing internet access, its to make money getting you to buy into the entire Google world. Its the same reason they created Google Chrome - they were getting too frustrated with the inability of other web browsers to handle their products, so they did it themselves. Google Fiber is just a way to make Google TV, Google Glass and whatever crap they're looking to hawk a feasible product.

Eh, you could throw a HGTV-style show up over IP. But for HD-quality broadcast, you need modulators and compression equipment and an engineering staff. You have to pay for satellite time. And you have to pay for a sales force to sell your product. If you broadcast stuff in the complex world of sports, you need some specialists to just look at contracts and see what you can legally broadcast. Oh, and you need a staff of lawyers to advise your production department, as well as to defend you against lawsuits. And now you're of a sufficient size to require an HR department, a company gym, a cafeteria, a Facilities department, physical infrastructure, and some other stuff.


Well like I said, the shows would be of varying quality. You'd have a ton of renegade indie shows like the comedy troupes you see on Youtube, you'd have more polished, but still kinda rough stuff like on Funny or Die or College Humor or some Youtube chanels, and then you'd have the big leagues like original content backed by a major company like Netflix or Hulu or Youtube or Google. And I'd expect he current networks like Viacom and ABC/Disney to get involved to.

I'm sure you'll still have aggregators who will provide some sort of channel function, but the point is it will be completely opened up and access won't be controlled by cable companies. Production may still be dominated by a few major players, but nothing would prevent an indie TV show from becoming viral. I think the model will be very similar to the current journalism model - lots of institutional newspapers online, but tons of other blogs, indie news sites, aggregators, etc.
   77. valuearbitrageur Posted: March 31, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4400119)
They shouldn't. If someone is willing to pay $100 for cable and doesn't watch 70% of the channels, the cable company is aware that the person in question is willing to pay $100 for 30% of the channels.

And let's not forget many of the channels have the same owner. Even if the cable company offers a la carte, companies like Time-Warner, Comcast, and Disney aren't going to suddenly start selling their channels individually -- if you want Cartoon Network, you certainly ain't getting it if you're not getting TBS, TNT, and CNN. And if you mostly watch esoteric fare, your Rococo Architecture Breaking News or whatever won't stay in business in an opt-in situation if people are unwilling to pay much more than the current per-subscribe cost that everyone is paying.

There probably are some people who have very specific channel-watching configurations in which they'd save serious money, but most are unlikely to do so.


That is the last gasp of monopoly. I pay $47 per month for internet access and .... that's it. I watch all my shows through NetFlix on the AppleTV, or buy them through iTunes. I don't get a bundle discount, but still rarely spend more than $30 per month on programming. If I want to watch network/local programming, I have an HDTV antenna that works fine, but I rarely do because I hate commercials. I save loads of time watching shows off iTunes and enjoy them more. Hulu is on AppleTV and I tried it briefly, then canned it because even it's limited commercials were so annoying.

Networks that sell their shows through iTunes include A&E, ABC, AMC, BET, Bravo, CBS, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, E!, Disney, ESPN, Fox, FX, HBO, HGTV, MTV, Nickelodean, Oxygen, Starz, Syfy, TBS, The History Channel, IFC, Lifetime, National Geographic, the NBA, NBC, the NFL network, the NHL, PBS, Showtime, Spike, TLC, TNT, Travel, USA, VH-1, and more.

I can buy MLB.TV for $130 per year ($110 without the stupid app they never describe), and see every MLB game I want (except for my home team which I can watch on over-air broadcast), along with all the features for pausing/replaying/accelerated viewing. Seems like a huge distraction given my work obligations so I've not yet pulled the trigger.

Cable and the packages their monopoly positions allowed them to bully content providers into participating in, and customers into buying, are dying. HBO is rumoured to be offering monthly subscriptions over iTunes soon. But even now there is far too many movies, shows and other offerings on iTunes (free and paid) to watch, I could browse listings all day and never remotely see all of them. When the revenue I provide my cable provider has dropped by 70% (including dropping their stupid phone service) and my TV watching life is better, that's a terrible sign for their future. If anyone offers me an internet connection at anywhere near their price, Cable revenue from my house drops to zero permanently. And eventually Google or one of those wireless schemes will get it it done, or even Verizon will get my neighborhood wired, and then I get to play them off each other.

But I think the biggest problem with the article is that network TV ratings for games are a poor metric for audience size, esp. when MLB.TV exists, and tons of RSNs are broadcasting games, so event the poor cable subscriber has other options for games to watch instead of Fox's game of the week. The reality of the future is that networks are probably going away, but baseball is just getting easier to watch and that's a plus for it's value and popularity.
   78. valuearbitrageur Posted: March 31, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4400125)
Eh, you could throw a HGTV-style show up over IP. But for HD-quality broadcast, you need modulators and compression equipment and an engineering staff. You have to pay for satellite time. And you have to pay for a sales force to sell your product. If you broadcast stuff in the complex world of sports, you need some specialists to just look at contracts and see what you can legally broadcast. Oh, and you need a staff of lawyers to advise your production department, as well as to defend you against lawsuits. And now you're of a sufficient size to require an HR department, a company gym, a cafeteria, a Facilities department, physical infrastructure, and some other stuff.


Uh, it's already there. iTunes allows you to distribute shows world wide using their platform just as easily as I distribute my apps worldwide on it. If you want to distribute for free you can, there are tons of free shows on iTunes already, and obviously YouTube access so you can watch all of those videos. I haven't used Roku or GoogleTV, but I'm pretty sure they have similar setups.

So to make the show all you need is a video camera to shoot it, and a Mac to edit it.

If it's free with ads sold in it, you don't need a sales rep, not a sales force. If it's pay, you don't need any sales force.

Like an app, all you have to figure out is the marketing angle so people will find your show and watch it. And LOL for massive costs for lawyers and lawsuits. You need an LLC, one decent lawyer for legal advice to supplement your own common sense when aquiring content and drafting agreements if you ever start making significant money worth protecting, you can always invest in piles of extra lawyers then.
   79. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 31, 2013 at 11:40 AM (#4400127)
That is the last gasp of monopoly. I pay $47 per month for internet access and .... that's it. I watch all my shows through NetFlix on the AppleTV, or buy them through iTunes. I don't get a bundle discount, but still rarely spend more than $30 per month on programming. If I want to watch network/local programming, I have an HDTV antenna that works fine, but I rarely do because I hate commercials. I save loads of time watching shows off iTunes and enjoy them more. Hulu is on AppleTV and I tried it briefly, then canned it because even it's limited commercials were so annoying.

Networks that sell their shows through iTunes include A&E, ABC, AMC, BET, Bravo, CBS, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, E!, Disney, ESPN, Fox, FX, HBO, HGTV, MTV, Nickelodean, Oxygen, Starz, Syfy, TBS, The History Channel, IFC, Lifetime, National Geographic, the NBA, NBC, the NFL network, the NHL, PBS, Showtime, Spike, TLC, TNT, Travel, USA, VH-1, and more.

I can buy MLB.TV for $130 per year ($110 without the stupid app they never describe), and see every MLB game I want (except for my home team which I can watch on over-air broadcast), along with all the features for pausing/replaying/accelerated viewing. Seems like a huge distraction given my work obligations so I've not yet pulled the trigger.


So you spend about $40 a month on "cable/satellite replacement" content. So you're saving $60-80 a month over a pretty broad cable/sat package, and you don't get home town baseball, and have additional hassle with multiple providers, finding shows, and multiple technologies.

You've made a very good case for satellite/cable. I don't know how in the world the $60-80 is worth not getting 75% of Yankee and Mets games, and all the added hassle, unless one is very cash constrained.
   80. valuearbitrageur Posted: March 31, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4400141)
So you spend about $40 a month on "cable/satellite replacement" content. So you're saving $60-80 a month over a pretty broad cable/sat package, and you don't get home town baseball, and have additional hassle with multiple providers, finding shows, and multiple technologies.

You've made a very good case for satellite/cable. I don't know how in the world the $60-80 is worth not getting 75% of Yankee and Mets games, and all the added hassle, unless one is very cash constrained.


Epic misread. I said I spend at most $30 a month, some months we might spend as little as $10. We owned Netflix and bought pay per view movies (and DVDs) while we had massive cable packages, so dreary are there offerings. And I get to watch most of the local teams games on over air TV.

And what hassle? I've been liberated from set schedules, the time wasting annoyance of commercial breaks, and never have to use multiple providers as its all on AppleTV (and my iPhone and my iPad) to watch whenever I want, including MLB.TV. And finding shows? There s a search box, type the first few characters of the show title, and it appears in a list.

The dirty little secret is I would actually pay EXTRA to watch TV this way, its so much more enjoyable and pure without hassle or distraction or being a slave to a DVR or the clock.

Edit: a few things I forgot,

I pay virtually no taxes, you know the ones that make that $119 per month cable bundle actually cost $150 a month.

My AppleTV was $99 and I own it. I don't have to pay extra every month for a remote, the DVR, the DVR guide, etc, its all built in for free.

I can watch 3 "half hour" shows per hour without the tax of commercial breaks, and without constantly fast forwarding my DVR.

For the price of a "full cable offering", ie $1,000 per year I can have NetFlix, MLB.TV, an NFL & NBA package and have enough left over to buy at least 15 full current seasons of current TV shows, probably over 300 hours a year. And so for the same price I get a much better product with no ads, no work on my part to record anything, almost every major game from three sports in better formats than cable can ever dream of, and all available on all my devices whenever I want it.

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