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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 2:00 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
Players won't agree to reduced salaries.
Owners don't want reduced revenue streams.
Ticket prices are likely very close, if not already, at maximum prices.

Unless the expansion of potential customers who will now buy Extra Innings or MLB.tv offsets the diminished market value of a cable TV package, owners face lower revenues and players face lower salaries. That will put pressure on other potential revenue streams.

I fail to see how that is the customer's problem.

No. 9 wrote:
IMO, viewing over internet, mobile device, wireless streaming to TVs are going to be the areas where you see the pressure on pricing. Perhaps the result will allow me to still get Pirates games for $129 (which is my main purpose for purchasing) but I may lose access to the remainder of the league.

And if MLB wants to alienate its fans like that, it has every right to do so. I just don't see how that makes any business sense.

No. 9 wrote:
Again . . . I've written it before . . . I think that we are all on the verge (5-10 years) of huge changes in the way that TV on sports is being broadcast and priced. No matter how this antitrust suit plays out, I'm not expecting cheaper prices for home viewership.

Lower prices aren't the only benefit of breaking up monopolies. Another benefit is increased production of goods and, particularly in this case, increased access to services. Just ask consumers of college football after the Supreme Court ruled against the NCAA in NCAA v. Board of Regents of Univ. of Oklahoma.

No. 9 wrote:
And, despite what you may think of Selig and the blackout rules, it is my opinion that MLB is way out ahead of the other major sports in terms of technology and what it is currently offering its fans.

That's all well and good, but that doesn't excuse cartel-like behavior.

No. 9 wrote:
Final question . . . why isn't this lawfirm suing the NFL and DirecTV? It seems to me that the Sunday Ticket agreement is far more restrictive than any of the issues identified in the suit against MLB and the NHL. If I want to watch Chargers/Raiders on Sunday and its not shown in my area, then I must subscribe to DirecTV and purchase the Sunday Ticket package. I don't even have the capability of contracting directly with the NFL to watch it on the internet on my computer.

While that's unfortunate, I haven't seen you allege an antitrust violation by the NFL. Where is the unreasonable restraint of trade or interstate commerce that the NFL has committed?

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 2:54 pm 
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If the price of MLB.TV or Extra Innings increases because the owners are looking to maintain revenue streams and to maintain player salary levels, then consumers will not likely be happy.

Teams raise ticket prices all the time to raise additional revenue . . . at risk of alienating fans. Why would internet access and mobile device access be any different?

The NCAA is not the equivalent of the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL. Not even close.

So, are you contending that it is an unlawful restraint on trade for MLB to blackout "local markets" to protect a particular franchisee's contract with a RSN? Should a MLB franchisee have the right to contract with an exclusive partner to televise games? If so, isn't the franchisor (MLB) interfering with the contract rights of a franchisee (any club) if it allows for the broadcast of games in an area supplied by the television partner? If MLB didn't have the blackout rules for MLB.TV and Extra Innings, wouldn't the RSN have standing to sue MLB for tortious interference with a contracted for business expectancy?

As for the NFL . . . look at the allegations by the Plaintiff against MLB. You state that you are in the "plaintiff's corner." Plainitff's allege an unlawful restraint of trade because (1) MLB unlawfully restrains "out of market" fans from watching broadcasts because they must purchase either Extra Innings or MLB.TV and (2) MLB blacks out those broadcasts in the local market which forces fans to purchase a cable subcription. So . . . the NFL has entered into an exclusive agreement with DirecTV to broadcast out of market games. However, I can't watch those games unless I have DirecTV and pu8rchase teh Sunday Ticket. What's teh difference?

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 3:33 pm 
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I see no causal relationship between the fact of a live tv broadcast and fan attendance at the Park, which I assume is the basis for a blackout. When that is extrapolated to the point where people living 100 miles away are denied the feed, it becomes ludicrous.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 4:00 pm 
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There are a lot of places around the country where MLB's blackout policy denies access to games even if someone has purchased MLBEI and/or some kind of sports package through their cable/satellite provider. I don't think this is ever the case with the NFL's blackout policy or Sunday Ticket.


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 4:12 pm 
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Bertie wrote:
I see no causal relationship between the fact of a live tv broadcast and fan attendance at the Park, which I assume is the basis for a blackout. When that is extrapolated to the point where people living 100 miles away are denied the feed, it becomes ludicrous.


Bertie -
I don't think that fan attendance is the basis for the blackouts. In the NFL, local games are blacked out if the attendance doesn't hit a specific level. Baseball has no such restriction. I'm not aware of any baseball team that restricts locally broadcast games based upon attendance (or lack thereof). I think that the blackouts are designed to protect a particular club's television partner(s) and to maximize the potential value of a TV contract. Thus, if you live in Rockford, Illinois, you can only see the White Sox and Cubs on WGN or Comcast Sports Network. You can't purchase MLB.TV and watch the Cubs or White Sox due to blackout restrictions. WGN and/or Comcast Sports Network has contracted with the Cubs and White Sox to be the exclusive content provider for a particular area. If a Rockford, Illinois resident could watch the games on his computer on MLB.TV, the value of the TV contract would be less. WGN and Comcast can generate advertising revenue by promoting the fact that it will have "the customer's eyes" in a particular market. Since sports remains one of the last bastions where customers will sit and watch live (as opposed to building a DVR library), there is great value to being the content provider and the WGNs and Comcasts of the world will pay a pretty penny for the rights to carry live games. I think that is driving the blackout restrictions much moreso than trying to drive up attendance.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 4:20 pm 
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RTJR wrote:
There are a lot of places around the country where MLB's blackout policy denies access to games even if someone has purchased MLBEI and/or some kind of sports package through their cable/satellite provider. I don't think this is ever the case with the NFL's blackout policy or Sunday Ticket.


If I live in Jacksonville and bought the Sunday Ticket and the Jags don't sell out their game, the game is blacked out in that region regardless of whether I subscribe to the Sunday Ticket.

Also, the NFL shows certain games on the NFL Network and, from what I've been told, those games are not part of the Sunday Ticket. No NFL Network? No game. Even if you have purchased The Sunday Ticket.

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Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 4:24 pm 
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RTJR wrote:
There are a lot of places around the country where MLB's blackout policy denies access to games even if someone has purchased MLBEI and/or some kind of sports package through their cable/satellite provider. I don't think this is ever the case with the NFL's blackout policy or Sunday Ticket.


You are correct. If I have a cable subscription or DirecTV with a "sports package" that gives me access to RSNs across the country, it does not also give me access to MLB games that are broadcast by that RSN (unless it is a local market). You can't bypass the Extra Innings charge by paying $6.95/month during baseball season for a "sports package" through cable or DirecTV.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 4:24 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
Bertie wrote:
I see no causal relationship between the fact of a live tv broadcast and fan attendance at the Park, which I assume is the basis for a blackout. When that is extrapolated to the point where people living 100 miles away are denied the feed, it becomes ludicrous.


Bertie -
I don't think that fan attendance is the basis for the blackouts. In the NFL, local games are blacked out if the attendance doesn't hit a specific level. Baseball has no such restriction. I'm not aware of any baseball team that restricts locally broadcast games based upon attendance (or lack thereof). I think that the blackouts are designed to protect a particular club's television partner(s) and to maximize the potential value of a TV contract. Thus, if you live in Rockford, Illinois, you can only see the White Sox and Cubs on WGN or Comcast Sports Network. You can't purchase MLB.TV and watch the Cubs or White Sox due to blackout restrictions. WGN and/or Comcast Sports Network has contracted with the Cubs and White Sox to be the exclusive content provider for a particular area. If a Rockford, Illinois resident could watch the games on his computer on MLB.TV, the value of the TV contract would be less. WGN and Comcast can generate advertising revenue by promoting the fact that it will have "the customer's eyes" in a particular market. Since sports remains one of the last bastions where customers will sit and watch live (as opposed to building a DVR library), there is great value to being the content provider and the WGNs and Comcasts of the world will pay a pretty penny for the rights to carry live games. I think that is driving the blackout restrictions much moreso than trying to drive up attendance.


Here is what is ironic and always has been my argument. Why should WGN or Comcast care where you watch the feed from their game? If they would let the commercials go through, it wouldn't matter because their advertisers are getting seen my the audience (and probably more than the cable subscribers). The only people it would affect is the local cable companies who get to slip in seven or eight local commericals per game. But with technology the way it is, they can arrange it so you see THOSE commercials too.

It's all a cash grab and that's what baseball has become.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 4:43 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:

If I live in Jacksonville and bought the Sunday Ticket and the Jags don't sell out their game, the game is blacked out in that region regardless of whether I subscribe to the Sunday Ticket.


Blackouts due to poor ticket sales/ non-sellout is a completely different scenario.

No. 9 wrote:
Also, the NFL shows certain games on the NFL Network and, from what I've been told, those games are not part of the Sunday Ticket. No NFL Network? No game. Even if you have purchased The Sunday Ticket.


This is true, but the NFL has in the past allowed TV stations in the local markets to simultaneously broadcast the game without a blackout.


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 5:07 pm 
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BB -
I think that the answer to your question lies in the fact that the RSN wants as large of a footprint as possible. For example, let's say that there is a sizeable St. Louis Cardinal fanbase in Springfield, Illinois. At least in theory, cable customers in that region will desire having Fox Sports Midwest be available. Fox Sports Midwest will then try to become part of the basic cable contract for the Springfield, Illinois area. Fox Sports Midwest then will get a subscription fee for everyone who is a cable subcriber - regardless of whether they are watching the channel. Fox Sports Midwest would (I think) make far more money (and be willing to pay a premium for broadcast rights) if it receives $1.00/cable subscriber/month in the Springfield area versus only making money off of those who specifically purchased the product to watch baseball.

I watched this phenomenon pretty closely when the Big 10 Network was fighting with cable companies over whether the Big 10 Network would be part of the "basic" cable package versus offered as part of a sports premium package. The Big 10 Network refused to contract with any cable provider that failed to include the Network as part of the basic package and, from what I understand, receives $.50/cable subscribing household/month. That's $6.00/year from any cable subscribing household - regardless if that household ever watches the network. Nearly every (if not all of them) cable company that originally objected ultimately gave in to customers' demand and it is now part of the basic cable package.

I'm guessing that a RSN makes far more money by collecting subscription fees across the board as opposed to from a select group of highly interested viewers. I'm betting that is why the RSN cares about protecting a particular market area. Just a hunch but it seems to follow logically.

S

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No. 9
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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 5:39 pm 
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You want some insight into cable fees, read the espn book, you guys have all the fun(?)..... 8-) 8-) 8-) I think that is the name of it..... :lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 5:42 pm 
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I know someone who worked for ESPN and advised regarding ESPN's policies. If my recollection is correct, you can thank ESPN for approximately $8.00 to $10.00/month for your basic cable fees. Huge negotiating power. HUGE.

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Reflexively, obsessively and tastelessly submitted,
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Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 7:11 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
I know someone who worked for ESPN and advised regarding ESPN's policies. If my recollection is correct, you can thank ESPN for approximately $8.00 to $10.00/month for your basic cable fees. Huge negotiating power. HUGE.

I don't mind that. I mind all the channels that I'm paying relative pennies for, but never, ever watch. We should have had a la carte cable a long time ago.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 7:43 pm 
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sisyphus wrote:
We should have had a la carte cable a long time ago.


Wouldn't that be awesome...... :D :D :D :D :D


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 8:05 pm 
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I had a discussion a few years ago about a la carte TV with a couple of guys in the business. The idea sounds good but the conclusion was that it would almost guarantee higher bills.


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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 8:47 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
If the price of MLB.TV or Extra Innings increases because the owners are looking to maintain revenue streams and to maintain player salary levels, then consumers will not likely be happy.

True, but then they'll just find other ways to spend their entertainment dollars. Unhappy consumers is really a problem for MLB Advanced Media, not the consumers in and of themselves.

No. 9 wrote:
Teams raise ticket prices all the time to raise additional revenue . . . at risk of alienating fans. Why would internet access and mobile device access be any different?

You weren't talking about raising prices; you were talking about restricting access. Today, if you purchase a subscription to MLB.TV, you get access to all games. Your hypo suggested restricting a subscriber to only one team's games (which is essentially one game per day, as opposed to as many as 15 per day). If that same subscription is offered next season with a restriction to only one game per customer, that's a considerable drop in value. Your proposal wasn't raising the price of a preexisting product; your proposal was stripping the preexisting product of a portion of its value.

If you want to see an example of that in action, look at the kerfluffle caused by Netflix's decision to separate its internet streaming video service from its DVD mailing service.

No. 9 wrote:
The NCAA is not the equivalent of the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL. Not even close.

No, but the underlying facts of that case are similar to what the plaintiffs in this case alleged.

No. 9 wrote:
So, are you contending that it is an unlawful restraint on trade for MLB to blackout "local markets" to protect a particular franchisee's contract with a RSN? Should a MLB franchisee have the right to contract with an exclusive partner to televise games? If so, isn't the franchisor (MLB) interfering with the contract rights of a franchisee (any club) if it allows for the broadcast of games in an area supplied by the television partner? If MLB didn't have the blackout rules for MLB.TV and Extra Innings, wouldn't the RSN have standing to sue MLB for tortious interference with a contracted for business expectancy?

Perhaps so. But, again, I don't see how that is the customer's problem. Just because MLB wants to protect the business interests of its franchisees does not mean that it can make a horizontal agreement with the franchisee to eliminate competition between the streaming internet broadcast from MLB Advanced Media and the televised broadcast from the RSN.

No. 9 wrote:
As for the NFL . . . look at the allegations by the Plaintiff against MLB. You state that you are in the "plaintiff's corner." Plainitff's allege an unlawful restraint of trade because (1) MLB unlawfully restrains "out of market" fans from watching broadcasts because they must purchase either Extra Innings or MLB.TV and (2) MLB blacks out those broadcasts in the local market which forces fans to purchase a cable subcription. So . . . the NFL has entered into an exclusive agreement with DirecTV to broadcast out of market games. However, I can't watch those games unless I have DirecTV and purchase the Sunday Ticket. What's the difference?

The difference? The horizontal agreement between member clubs of the NFL. I don't see you alleging that the NFL has made an agreement with its member clubs to restrict their ability to broadcast their games on television or over the internet. Now, maybe they have and I just don't see it. But based on what you have alleged, I don't see an agreement in play here.

Another thing to keep in mind: the plaintiffs' attorneys here did not sue the NHL and MLB at the same time. The NHL suit came before the MLB suit. So the plaintiffs' attorneys very well may be planning to sue the NFL and DirecTV for violating the Sherman Act. Just because they haven't done it now does not mean that they won't in the future.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 10:24 pm 
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All NFL games are on free TV in the market which means everyone in that market can view it no matter if they have cable or Directv. That's not the case in baseball. Outside the market, they are also available to everyone at a premium price which people don't mind paying because they would rather pay to see their team or a certain game than not see it at all.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 10:32 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
I'm guessing that a RSN makes far more money by collecting subscription fees across the board as opposed to from a select group of highly interested viewers. I'm betting that is why the RSN cares about protecting a particular market area. Just a hunch but it seems to follow logically.


Sounds like good logic to me.

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 10:34 pm 
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RTJR wrote:
I had a discussion a few years ago about a la carte TV with a couple of guys in the business. The idea sounds good but the conclusion was that it would almost guarantee higher bills.


As someone who's had such discussons, I'd be interested to hear about yours. Why was that the conclusion?

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 Post subject: Re: MLB Faces Antitrust Suit Regarding Its TV Blackout Polic
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 10:58 pm 
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The conclusion was that since 99% of the channels would automatically lose homes, they'd have to charge more, severely cut costs, or simply go under.

Use Dish Network as an example. They charge $25 for a 55 channel package. If it were a la carte, instead of getting 55 channels at $0.45 per channel for a $25 bill, you could easily end up paying $40/ month for 20 channels at $2.00 per channel.

There was also something about advertising and how being associated with a certain package tier is helpful for advertising dollars. An extreme-niche channel like Fox Soccer would have a hell of a time making money in an a la carte system. They already charge $15/ month for their 2nd primarily-soccer-network, Fox Soccer Plus.

In the end, it results in:

- Higher bills
- Fewer channels
- Less diversity
- Less "risk taking" on niche networks


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