When MLB announced its DirecTV deal for "exclusive" carrying of Extra Innings, it was announced that InDemand and DISH Network had a 3-week window to match DirecTV’s carriage promises for the 2009 debut of "The Baseball Channel" if it wanted to continue to carry EI.
It was a bit of an olive branch thrown out by MLB, perhaps to appease the irate rabid fan base of EI cable subscribers, perhaps to get the FCC and Sen. Kerry and Specter off their backs. It also allowed MLB to say to their fans … "hey, we gave cable and DISH the chance to match the DirecTV offer, and they wouldn’t, so don’t scream at us."
So … now … with less than 2 weeks till Opening Day, InDemand announces that it will carry the "Baseball Channel" in ’09, and that it will be match the DirecTV EI offer. But MLB doesn’t believe InDemand met all the criteria set forth.
"IN Demand said Wednesday it will offer to match the terms of DirecTV’s $700 million, seven-year deal with Major League Baseball on behalf its owners, who are affiliates of the companies that own Time Warner, Comcast and Cox cable systems.
As part of the offer, iN Demand also said it would carry The Baseball Channel when it launches in 2009 to at least the same number of subscribers who will get the channel on DirecTV.
"As the current home for ‘Extra Innings’ for more than 200,000 cable subscribers, we have extended ourselves to do our best to be able to continue to provide this package to baseball fans and our customers," iN Demand president Robert Jacobson said. "This offer meets all the conditions set forth by MLB last week."
Bob DuPuy, baseball’s chief operating officer, issued a statement responding to the offer Wednesday.
"The offer to match the terms of the agreement reached by MLB and DirecTV remains open to iN Demand and Dish until the deadline of March 31, 2007," DuPuy said in the statement. "The communication sent to our office today by iN Demand is not responsive to that offer. In spite of their public comments, the response falls short of nearly all of the material conditions (among them requirements for carriage of The Baseball Channel and their share of the rights fees for Extra Innings) set forth in the Major League Baseball offer made to them on March 9."
"Major League Baseball … I haggle for this …"