MLB Extra Innings Package Still Up in the Air
by Max - 04/02/2007
This is the business I chose to be in and I am one of the few people that really loves what I do for a living. I am a sports junkie and love the gambling aspect of each of the sports. Doc's Sports just finished up the college basketball season on Tuesday and, despite a minor setback in the tournament, we had an outstanding year picking-up +127 units on the season and dime bettors would have made a profit of $79,700. We picked up a few handicapping titles this year and now turn our attention to baseball and hockey. The NHL regular season is just winding down and the playoffs are starting next week. After a rough four months to start to year, Doc's has finally found the plus side and dime bettors have picked up over $60,000 since Feb. 18, 2007. This is a remarkable turnaround and expect that to continue during the playoffs. But since hockey has fallen off the radar of most sports gamblers, much of the focus now lies with the opening of the MLB season.
I am one of those handicappers that likes to watch my selections play out live instead of just handicapping the games and checking the box scores later in the evening. I feel watching each of my selections gives me an advantage for the team's next game and often times you will see me come back with the opposite side or continue to ride that team. Watching the games allows me to determine if I was on the right side of the game and whether I lost it because of a bad bounce or a fluke play. I take pride in my work and spend most nights watching games via satellite (except when "Laguna Beach" or "the Hills" is on). Back in college I used to bet only games that were on TV and that is one of the big no-no's when handicapping sports. But with the rise of satellite providers that is not the case any more, since most college and pro games are on TV and can be found if one is willing to pay for them.
Since I moved back to Wisconsin to work for Doc's Sports after graduating from Arizona State earlier this century, I have dish network as my source of television. The local cable company in the area, Charter Communications, does not offer the entire FSN network for each part of the country in addition to ESPN Gameplan and ESPN Fullcourt. My TV bill is over $115 each month, but that does not brother me since I spend most nights in front of the TV. I currently subscribe to ESPN Fullcourt, ESPN Gameplan, NHL Center Ice and Extra Innings. I have each of them automatically renew every year and love them almost as much as my girlfriend. Luckily she works a lot of nights, so does not have to witness me pacing back and forth sweating out another victory.
So as ESPN Fullcourt came to an end in March, I was anxious for the MLB season to open up and with that my subscription to the MLB Extra Innings package. I became a bit puzzled when it did not appear on my TV bill and began to dig a little deeper into why that was the case. After I Googled the topic, I found that MLB had signed an exclusive deal with Direct TV to broadcast Extra Innings. The deal was for seven years and $700 million dollars. This is the latest attempt by a fledgling satellite provider in order to attract business by providing exclusive content. This is also typical MLB, as Bud Selig will do whatever it takes to earn a few extra bucks at the expense of alienating 230,000 fans, the amount that received the MLB Extra Innings package from Dish or cable last year.
But what they did not expect was the uproar that was created by angry fans about this decision. Fans voiced their opinion and it eventually reached Capitol Hill when Senator John Kerry called for a hearing. Since MLB is extremely under anti-trust laws there was little they could do and COO Bob Dupay called their bluff and walked out of that meeting with the upper hand. Senator Kerry did get Dupay to agree to open discussions on the matter with Dish and cable executives, but this appears to be nothing more then show. In Demand, which represents the cable companies, agreed to match Direct TVs offer and thus keep Extra Innings on baseball, but Dupay wasted no time rejecting that offer. It is now imperative that MLB never had any intention of letting in other providers and but this stipulation is strictly for show hoping to diminish the controversy. They now are still in negations with MLB trying to get his issue resolved, meanwhile the season has started and most fans are left out in the cold. Typical MLB.
The big sticking point in negotiations seems to be Direct TV's 20 percent stake in the new MLB channel that is set to launch in 2009. MLB has followed a page from the NFL and is going to place key games on the channel in an effort to force them to crack and pay outrageous fees, similar to that of ESPN. Memo to the NFL and MLB: your channel is not ESPN and you cannot expect companies to charge their customers similar fees when you provide lackluster programming compared to the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
MLB has countered by stating this is similar to what the NFL does with Sunday Ticket and what Nascar does with its Hot Pass. But that is hardly the case, and the following will explain why. First, NFL Sunday Ticket was an idea created by Direct TV and the NFL and has never been offered by cable or dish. They only offer programming on Sundays and not seven days a week like Extra Innings does. Therefore, fans of teams that live in different cities can usually make way to sports bars or friend's houses once a week in order to watch their favorite teams play. This is a minor inconvenience, but certainly one cannot be expect to watch 162 games at one of these establishments. The Nascar Hot Pass argument is even weaker, since fans can view the same race on broadcast TV every week and this package only shows different camera angels of the exact same race. I imagine only a few die hard fans would be interested in the package and I question why Direct TV was so determined to make this package exclusive.
On the other hand, the MLB Extra Innings allows you to see different games (not different camera angles of the same game) and had previously been available on dish and cable. Direct TV had a late start in promoting Extra Innings this year, but is now offering a free week of action and an early bird rate of $160.
Meanwhile everyone else sits and waits and contract negotiations continue on. MLB appears to be in no hurry to make a decision and it will be interesting to see that the final result is. A big sticking point in talks appears to be Direct TV unwillingness to give up its 20 percent stake in the new baseball channel. This is a point where I agree with Direct TV, as they are putting up $700 million dollars and they should be entitled to some benefits. As talks continue, MLB is quick to point out that customers are able to watch live games via the Internet on MLB.com. Customers can either pay $119.95 for speed of 700K or 89.95 for speed of 400k and watch games via their high-speed Internet. MLB officials must have failed to realize that not everyone in the country has a high-speed connection or likes to speed three hours watching games on four-inch monitors. Besides that, I take exception with the live part of this offer, as it is often 50 seconds delayed and a Website like ours offers quicker updates of the at-bats. But it appears this may be the only option for numerous people, including myself, since we do not have the opportunity to switch to Direct TV or do not want to give MLB the satisfaction. Some apartment complexes do not allow dish to be installed and often times are not on the right angle for that to occur because of blockage by trees or buildings. There is still the possibility that this all gets resolved and major league baseball does something that is fan friendly, but that unfamiliar move for Bud Selig, who was recently named the highest-paid sports executive, with a 2005 salary of $14.5 million.
Doc's is your one-stop place for all your betting action as the boys of summer have begun to take action. We have numerous packages available all of which come with a guarantee. For more information, visit our homepage and let 36 years of experience work for you.