Selig on the EI deal

Bud Selig doesn’t appear to be aware (or care) that some fans can’t follow their favorite team if they don’t happen to live in that team’s city, or that fans get upset when they pay good money to have access to something above and beyond the standard fare, and then have it swept away.

His quotes, then my comments in bold/italics ….

"I’ve heard for years we have too much product out there," Selig said.

Then why is MLB seeking to introduce its OWN 24-hour Baseball Channel. That would seem to be a LOT OF PRODUCT on top of the "too much product".  Additionally, this statement, when taken in the context of the "Baseball Channel" introduction, runs counter to what his VP of Business, Tim Brosnan said in his USA Today commentary a few weeks ago:

"Brosnan: MLB has consistently sought to do the best job possible of marketing
the game to our fans. Through the ballpark experience, TV, radio,
satellite radio, broadband and the Internet, wireless, licensed
products and sponsor marketing initiatives, we look to meet the demands
of our fans in as many ways as possible
for one simple reason: It’s
good business."  ….. Our goal remains to provide as much MLB programming as we can to the
maximum number of viewers
, and any consummated deal will reflect that.  (emphasis mine)

Back to Selig’s comments:

"Everywhere I’ve gone … there’s no market that has less than 350 to 400
[televised] games, and some [like Chicago] have quite a bit more than
that. We have an enormous amount of product out there.

That may be true, but if you are a Pirates fan living in Anaheim, you are most likely never going to see the Buccos playing on ESPN or FOX.  And also, the market is saturated with Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs and Braves content from the teams own sports networks, and ESPN and Fox’s infatuation with the big market teams.  Once the Tigers quietly sneak into the playoffs, does anyone know their players …. does anyone care?  Maybe THAT’S why playoff ratings are abysmal.

Also, it’s not like MLB couldn’t work out a non-exclusive rights deal with both DirecTV and the cable operators.  The vast majority of fans have one technology or the other.  They rarely have both, and cable is the predominant force here.  How is "adding more product" (in this case, keeping more ways of dispensing product …. a bad thing?  The answer …. MLB wants to direct lots of traffic towards MLB.TV and MLB Advanced Media in general …. because they OWN it.  They don’t have to negotiate rights fees with anyone.   Its why baseball teams create their own sports networks on cable …. they own the content … they reap the economic windfall.

"As for this deal, what fascinates me is I have spent a lot of time
going over it and trying to find out who can’t get [DirecTV].
  We’re down now to such small numbers, that I’m really wondering [about the fuss]."

Apparently Selig doesn’t live in an apartment complex without southern exposure, doesn’t live in an building which has rules against satellite dishes, and doesn’t realize that the "such small numbers" are most likely MLB’s MOST RABID FANS …. the ones who are more than happy to spend the dollars for wall-to-wall coverage, if they are given the opportunity.  MLB is being so gung-ho for their Baseball Channel to be on a cable basic tier, they are willing to forsake the cable Extra Innings viewership (though $700 million over seven years helps MLB’s suits sleep better at night)

"… In a year or two, when people understand the significance of this deal … everybody will understand it."

Ummm …. why can’t Selig explain the significance of the deal now?   Is there some glorious MLB Advanced Media proprietary technology on the horizon that will render DirecTV moot?  Is there a Slingbox or Tivo-type innovation that will revolutionize the information superhighway?  I doubt DirecTV would sign a 7-year deal if they had even an inkling MLB was going to make their exclusive baseball coverage
less than exclusive, or their satellite less desirable.  The significance of the deal …. bottom line (no pun intended) is to (I think) drive business towards MLB.TV, and then take MLB Advanced Media public. 

My thanks to Alex Carnevale of Baseball Prospectus for the original posting of Selig’s quotes.

Chicago Tribune article on Selig’s take on the EI deal


  1. Zack

    As I think I’ve said before, I’m not too familiar with this whole issue…so I can only say that you SEEM to be making an excellent argument.


    -The Baseball Collector

  2. Diane

    Well …. I’m just putting my opinion out there, and trying to make sense of this from the perspective of both the fans AND MLB.


    I agree with you Diane this whole thing just dosn’t seem right, nice read by the way.

    Go Dodgers!


    Feh. Given baseball’s continually declining ratings, I find it difficult to believe that there are all that many folks that want to pay both for cable and DirecTV.

    The only proof I need regarding this deal to know that it is unholy: the principle participants are Bud Selig and Chase Carey.

  5. Coral

    I could not agree with you more. I recently wrote a blog about this myself. I am a new college student, living in La Jolla, this is a two hour TRAIN RIDE from Anaheim, and I can’t watch Angels games here at school. I can’t even get Padres games. I was MORE than willing to pay the 20 dollars a month for MLB.TV’s premium package, only to find out that Angels’ games would be blacked out. So now I have resorted to gameday audio… What a shame. Let me know what you think of my entry.


    Hey Coral (I left a comment, my first, at your place), and hi author Diane. Bud S. is such an easy target, and he has been exactly that for a long time. Fun, isn’t it?? Except when it comes to the detriment of the game we love. Diane, I like your stuff…don’t be a stranger to MY blog on the eve of baseball ’07! Stay well!!!!! I’ll leave you my link, if that’s OK.
    As for MLB and the various available visual and audio coverage, AND if I had any decision making power, I’d want the greatest number of people (cable subscribers nationwide are the most numerous, by far) to benefit as much as the splinter Sat. people. My goodness….the power of money obstructs what is right and what is wrong. And THIS IS WRONG! I’m lucky to be in NESNland, HI Def too!

    So take care…my link? Peter’s Red Sox Forever. Your comments would be so welcome…..I mean that!!!!! Peter

  7. Diane

    Bluebleeder … thanks!

    Old Fogey … yes, you aren’t the only one who noticed the two main participants in this deal.

    Coral … I read your entry … that “Huston Street” boy is STILL smarter than half the announcers on ESPN. 🙂 As for the rest of the entry … I feel for you.

    Peter … nice read … I assume Blogger doesn’t charge you $49.95 for the privilege of blogging there. 🙂

  8. Coral

    That “Huston Street boy” was one of the most depressing experiences of college so far, haha. I always get so excited when someone looks like a fan, and then they turn out to be a “fan”. Oh well baseball is just about here, so what do I have to complain about? Hope to hear from you soon.