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die wreck TV

if you're not familiar with the details of mlb's new deal with DirecTV, maury brown's Biz of Baseball is all over the story; head there for the whole ugly truth. the short version is that this deal screws the baseball fans who chose Dish network or InDemand cable as their primary tv carrier for one reason: so they could watch out-of-market ballgames. those games will now almost certainly be available only on DirecTV. under duress from angry fans, the sport belatedly gave Dish and InDemand the right of first refusal, but it's not likely either will match the DirectTV offer.

only the boobs who run this sport could mismanage the pr this badly.

the deal is of a piece with the cardinals' move from kmox to ktrs, which engendered the same sense of anger and alienation among devoted fans. step by step, baseball is making access to its product more difficult to get; if that seems bass-ackwards and stupid, read my piece for last year about the drift toward all-subscription radio. baseball's moving inexorably to bring their broadcast rights in-house: rather than sell the rights to a third-party broadcaster, the sport is going to cut out the middleman and broadcast the games itself --- and sell the rights to each game directly to us, the consumers. eventually we'll be buying tickets to see an individual game on tv or hear it on radio, much as we now buy tickets to see games in person. this line from the first paragraph of mlb's press release announcing the deal tells all:

Included within the agreement, DIRECTV will be a minority partner in the MLB Channel, and will work with MLB to develop the network, which will launch in 2009.
DirecTV is merely a means to an end --- a way to ease mlb's transition into its ultimate role as the broadcaster of its own product. it's a macro version of the st louis radio deal, the main purpose of which was to get the cardinals --- half-owners of ktrs --- into the broadcasting business. the fact that the change of flagships cut hundreds of thousands of fans out of signal range was beside the point.

i already buy broadcasts directly from mlb, via the package; that's my primary carrier of cardinal games, so i'm not impacted by the switch to DirecTV. but if you're among those who are impacted, i feel for you. you love the sport, but the industry could give a shit about you.

the bastards.

Update [2007-3-9 9:37:47 by lboros]: just to be clear: my beef is not with the longer-term trend, ie cutting out the middleman. there are certain advantages for the consumer in that model; it's a tradeoff, and there are certain things the consumer loses, but that model per se isn't what i'm reacting against. i'm reacting against the shrugging disregard for how the change inconveniences fans. they should be bending over backwards to make this transition as painless as possible for their customers. instead they take the opposite view.

the fact that mlb didn't anticipate any fan backlash speaks volumes about how much they thought about their consumers when they cut this deal. they didn't think about us at all --- and that makes me angry.