This week, I wrote a letter to Commissioner Selig, as I'm sure thousands of other baseball fans already have, asking him to reconsider the proposal to move the "Extra Innings" pay-per-view package exclusively to DirecTV.
For the last five years, the "Extra Innings" package has been available on cable, DirecTV, and the Dish Network to about 75 million viewers. But if the proposed deal is approved, it will be available to just 15 million current subscribers. The reason? Well it couldn't be more clear - $700 million over seven years. Yet, such a deal would be penny wise, pound foolish.
Via the internet and sports-talk radio, baseball fans from across the nation have made their feelings clear. Unequivocally, these fans are very unhappy about this proposal. Its very suggestion has bred a tremendous amount of ill will and a very negative sentiment among the sport’s core audience, its consumers, its constituency -- the genuine, loyal fans of Major League Baseball.
For a sport awash in such an unprecedented amount of money, the proposed deal with DirecTV reeks of greed and avarice. It is a smack in the face to a significant portion of the game’s audience. It is inconsiderate, and extremely short-sighted. Baseball suffered considerably as a result of the last strike and this potential move couldn’t be worse for the sport, considering that many fans already find the experience of going to a ballgame too expensive -- which is exactly how most view player salaries.
Furthermore, many fans live out of market from their favorite teams and cannot attend games, even if they could afford to. These fans, including myself, rely on "Extra Innings," and on the option of choosing which carrier to purchase it from. The whole deal simply smacks of an anti-trust violation.
As Senator John Kerry wrote in a letter to FCC chairman Kevin Martin: "I am opposed to anything that deprives people of reasonable choices. In this day and age, consumers should have more choices -- not fewer. A Red Sox fan ought to be able to watch their team without having to witch to DirecTV."
There is nothing that MLB has done since the strike that could be more detrimental to the game, aside from the steroids issue. Fans are already turned off by the fact that the game seems to have become more about money than family entertainment, and the DirecTV deal only serves to reinforce that view.
I’ve asked the Commissioner to reconsider this proposal for the benefit of the game and its fans, and I encourage all concerned fans to contact the Commissioner’s office by phone, or better yet by mail, to express their opinions and let their voices be heard.
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Commissioner
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10167
Phone: (212) 931-7800