Business of Baseball Reportby Brian Borawski
January 24, 2007
MLB Close to Deal With DirecTV Over Extra Innings
In a somewhat surprising move, MLB is close to an agreement with DirecTV that would give the satellite television company an exclusive agreement for the league’s Extra Innings baseball package. Extra Innings allows viewers to watch out-of-market games that normally wouldn’t be shown on a basic cable or satellite television package. The price tag for the exclusive agreement is going to be $700 million over a seven-year period and in addition, DirecTV will be carrying a 24-hour baseball network set to start in 2009.
The question is, does this benefit the league? On the one hand, the league will get a nice paycheck from DirecTV, but on the other hand, a lot of people are going to lose access to the Extra Innings package because they’ll be either unwilling to switch to DirecTV or unable to switch because it’s not available in their area. I’ve also read a lot about what this means for MLB.TV, which is put out by Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM). Some people think it should boost membership because people will shift from Extra Innings to MLB.TV, while others think this could provide a reason for MLBAM to begin getting away from MLB.TV and to try to make all of its money with these exclusive deals.
I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman who was close to negotiations over Extra Innings from the side of the cable companies who are losing out here. He indicated that the exclusive deal wasn’t necessarily something that MLB was pursuing but that it was something that was brought to the table by DirecTV. He also indicated that he thought this was DirecTV’s attempt to create a niche for itself in the television market. DirecTV already has exclusive access to the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package, and now with baseball, DirecTV can call itself the king of sports programming. He also thought that DirecTV would be able to give MLB’s new 24-hour network more attention. Cable companies probably wouldn’t cover it under their basic packages, while under DirecTV, it’ll probably be available to all subscribers.
Keep in mind the deal isn’t final. At least not yet so I’ll be sure to keep my eye out for any updates on this as time goes by.
St. Louis to Host 2009 All-Star Game
This shouldn’t come as a big surprise because the St. Louis Cardinals have the newest stadium in baseball, but MLB recently announced that the 2009 All-Star Game will be held at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. This will be the first time St. Louis has hosted an All-Star Game since 1966. In the meantime, the Cardinals hope the 2009 deadline will push them towards finishing up the development of the area surrounding the stadium. The team is hoping to break ground this summer on a ballpark village that will consist of shops and restaurants which will be located where the previous Busch Stadium stood.
The 2007 All-Star Game will be in San Francisco this year while a site for the 2008 game hasn’t been locked in yet. It’s expected that Yankee Stadium will host the 2008 game in what will be the last season that the Yankees will play games at historic Yankee Stadium.
Owners Approve Pirates' Change of Control
This all went down since my last report two weeks ago, but the Pittsburgh Pirates asked the league to allow them to change control of the team from Kevin McClatchy to Robert Nutting. Both are owners, and McClatchy will remain as the team’s CEO and he’ll be responsible for the team’s day-to-day operations while Nutting will basically take over the administration of all other aspects of the team.
The change of control was approved by the owners at their meeting last week. The question is, will this end the Pirates' streak of futility. Based on this year’s signings, I’d say the team still isn’t going in the right direction, but at this point, I’m sure a change couldn’t hurt.
Since I was busy last week with the Ernie Harwell interview, it’s now been two weeks since I’ve done a BOB Report. While I touched on the big stories already, there’s also a ton of news that I probably would have passed over but makes for interesting reading, so here are some of the other tidbits of news that have happened in the past couple of weeks.
After a rumored meeting between Cal Ripken, Jr. and Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos was shot down as just that, Ripken recently announced that he would be interested in purchasing the team if Angelos were to ever sell. Thanks to Earl Weaver Rules for the tip on this one.
The Mets are finally warming to their new Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans. Lee Jenkins provides details.
Chris Isidore at CNNMoney explores whether there’s a stadium naming rights bubble with some of the big deals that have come through in the past couple of months.
The city of Goodyear, Ariz. finalized a deal that put the finishing touches on the Cleveland Indians' prospective move to the Grapefruit League in 2009.
Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff recently provided some more details on what he envisions the A’s new ballpark, Cisco Field, will look like.
Jerry Crasnik at ESPN.com talks about who might succeed Bud Selig as baseball’s commissioner.
Troy Percival joins the Angels' front office as a talent evaluator and special assignment pitching instructor.
The Nationals are optimistic about the team’s progress in the Domincan Republic.
Arizona Diamondbacks Class-A affiliate, the Visalia Oaks, recently unveiled plans to construct a dugout seating area" target="new">construct a dugout seating area around the team’s dugout that provide the fans to watch the game almost as if they were sitting in the team’s dugout.
Phil Rogers at ESPN.com discusses how having a baseball team in Portland, Ore. makes sense.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.