January 27, 2007

Word on the street is that Major League Baseball is close to making a decision to offer their MLB Extra Innings broadcast package exclusively on DirecTV starting this year. What does it mean for those of us Dish Network owners whose only reason for going satellite was to get access to broadcast packages like MLB Extra Innings? It means rotsa ruck, that’s what it means. As John Donovan of Sports Illustrated’s Inside Baseball explains:

Major League Baseball is in the process of negotiating exclusive rights to its Extra Innings package of out-of-market games to satellite giant DirecTV, and that means a lot of fans are about to get absolutely crushed into the dirt. The Extra Innings package, for the hundreds of thousands of fans who have shelled out the $170 or so for it already know, is a seamhead’s dream: almost unlimited baseball broadcast by home-team announcers for six months. Up to 60 regular-season games a week.

But now, if this deal between MLB and DirecTV goes through as expected, you won’t be able to get Extra Innings through your local cable TV outfit. Or through Dish Network, either. If you want the Extra Innings package, starting with the 2007 season, you’ll have to be a DirecTV subscriber. No exceptions. That, as I understand the concept, is the whole “exclusive rights” thing.

This really bums me out, and my guess is a lot of other baseball fans will feel the same way. Here’s the problem: let’s say (for the sake of argument) you’re a – oh, I don’t know – a Boston Red Sox fan living in, say, the Phoenix, AZ area. (Not that I know anyone like that!) If you don’t get the MLB Extra Innings package, the only baseball you’re going to see is Arizona Diamondbacks games (on the regional Fox Sports), the Fox national game of the week, and the games ESPN broadcasts twice a week during the regular season. If, as expected, MLB Extra Innings goes exclusively to DirecTV, the only alternatives for us Dish Network owners is either to: a) switch to DirecTV, or subscribe to MLB.tv, Major League Baseball’s Internet-based version of Extra Innings.

For me, this presents quite the dilemma. I mean, I certainly have the broadband hookup needed for MLB.tv, and, as a ‘Monster Member’ of Red Sox Nation, my membership comes with a regular-season subscription to MLB.tv, but I’m just not crazy about the idea of watching baseball games on a 20-inch monitor while seated at a desk. And the thought of changing from a Dish Network subscriber to DirecTV and all the hassles that would be involved (swapping hardware, installation charges, billing changes, etc.) just gives me the willies.

The most disheartening thing about this, however, is recalling last year’s Dish Network fiasco where I thought I had ordered a DirecTV installation, only to find out after the install was complete that I had gotten Dish Network instead. If I had gotten what I thought I was getting, I wouldn’t be composing this blog entry.

Look, I know in the grand scheme of things that this is not a big deal – after all, we’re not talking about going hungry, being homeless or jobless, or contracting some life-threatening illness here. It’s just one of those inconvenient kind of things that disrupts one’s simple pleasures of life and makes you shake your head. But that doesn’t mean I have to like or accept it, and not want to try and figure out a better way.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:59 | Comments (4)
  1. FWIW, you can replace your DISH with DirecTV for next to nothing. There’s an initial outlay but they usually give you a coupon for free programming that offsets it. I am one of the earliest subscribers to DirecTV. When I signed up, it was brand new, very expensive, and RCA was the exclusive distributor. Also at the time, cable was not an option in the remote area I was in and wasn’t going to be for a long time. Having gone quite a bit over budget on the house, it was likely we would be spending nights at home for a while. Decent TV was a must. Now that cable is available at CrabAppleLane, I can’t imagine ever switching.

    Comment by Rob — January 26, 2007 @ 8:04 am

  2. Thanks, Rob – the only thing I’m worried about is if there’s a penalty for removing Dish prior to the end of some plan I might have signed up for. And the other thing is I get some cool music channels on Dish Network and don’t know if they’re there on DirecTV.

    But if you think it’s not a difficult thing to do, I’ll definitely check into it.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — January 27, 2007 @ 12:27 am

  3. DirecTV has about 40 music channels: http://directv.com/DTVAPP/packProg/channelChart2.jsp?assetId=1400004

    Don’t know if they’re the same channels DISH has but my guess is that they are. If you signed up over a year ago, I would think that contract has been fulfilled but I would verify that before you make a switch. I don’t mean to sound like a shill for DirecTV but if programming increasingly becomes about exclusivity and I think it will, DISH will never be able to keep up. Cable hasn’t even been able to do it.

    Comment by Rob — January 27, 2007 @ 12:56 pm

  4. Thanks again, Rob. Before I consider making a switch, I’m gonna try connecting my laptop to our big-screen TV (since it is supposed to have that capability) and see what the internet looks like via that means. If it looks half-decent, I can try my MLB.tv subscription out and see how well that works.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — January 27, 2007 @ 10:25 pm

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