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The Real Deal On “Extra Innings”

The Real Deal On “Extra Innings”:

Direct TV
Direct TV

Many people, including me, were surprised when Major League Baseball announced that the new terms of the “Extra Innings” package might not be exclusive. It’s actually quite confusing, so let me break it down for you.

For the next seven years, DirecTV will definitely have the package, which broadcasts out-of-market games. In Demand, which has been supplying the package to cable, and DirecTV’s satellite competitor DISH Network, have the chance to get in on the deal if, and this is exactly from baseball’s release they buy the package “at consistent rates and carriage requirements with a deal to be concluded before the baseball season begins.”

Sounds good, right?

After sitting on it for a couple hours, the truth is, I’m not too confident that everything is going to work out. I think the price is going to be an issue, but I also think the carriage details are

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dicey. You see, as I understand it, the cable companies of the world would have to offer the much awaited Baseball Channel - which DirecTV will now have a stake in - as part of their basic tier when it debuts in 2009. That means they’ll have to pass The Baseball Channel onto the 35 million or so cable homes that have digital, which is about 20 million homes more than DirecTV has.

That makes me wonder if 23 days from now we’re just going to view this as a public relations stunt that was meant to appease Sen. John Kerry, who was threatening to go to the FCC, and fans - who can now place the blame on the cable operators for not ponying up instead of on baseball.

From MLB’s standpoint, I think was a brilliant and right play. If everything works out, great. That’s what I’m hoping for. But if it doesn’t, baseball officials will always be able to say, “We did what you wanted us to do. We opened negotiations to everyone who had the package before. And, in the end, if they didn’t take it, that’s their fault - not ours.”

Let’s say it becomes a DirecTV exclusive because DISH and In Demand don’t match. I don’t think that’s as much of a travesty as has been portrayed. Many people have been using the fact that some 45 million people would be shut out, ignoring the fact that less than 0.5% of those homes chose to subscribe to the “Extra Innings” package.

By the way, the package will be available on MLB.com.

Dungy Signs With Steiner:
As the autograph market has picked up, coach signatures have been in higher demand. Steiner Sports signed Tony Dungy, head coach of the Super Bowl XLI champion Indianapolis Colts. Here are the prices on Dungy:

Autographed 8 by 10 -- $119.99
Autographed Super Bowl XLI football -- $359.99
Autographed football signed with Peyton Manning -- $699.99
Autographed Super Bowl XLI helmet signed with Manning -- $999.99

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