Wednesday, February 14, 2007

MLB TV Rights and the Sale of the Braves

Two more thoughts on baseball broadcast rights and the sale of the Atlanta Braves.

1. Do you think there would have been much more scrutiny of the MLB Extra Innings package going exclusively to DirectTV if the order of things were reversed i.e. if Liberty Media first bought the Braves and then got the MLB Extra Innings package (Liberty Media owns at least 38.5% of DirectTV and is by far the largest shareholder)? Can you imagine the hue and cry if MLB sold their TV rights to say George Steinbrenner of the Yankees or John Henry of the Red Sox? Just saying - there's a story here that ain't getting the attention it deserves.

2. Speaking of the DirectTV Extra Innings package - BaseballMusings had an interesting post on how maybe this DirectTV deal is calculated to maximize the value of the on-line MLB.TV product. While I agree with this assessment - I think there is another consequence of the deal. If cable operators can't offer MLB Extra Innings but they still want baseball - why not add a YES channel (Yankees) or NESN (Red Sox) or the channel of some other team like the Dodgers or Mets to a pay sports tier? If they did this then the revenue would go right to the individual team owners. For instance - say a cable operator in Florida added both YES and NESN - then the money from that deal would go right into the pockets of George Steinbrenner and John Henry. I'm not aware of this happening anywhere but I won't be surprised when it does.

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