I am sure all of my fellow die-hard baseball fans were sweating this one out….
Truly this is an Easter/Passover miracle! MLB Extra Innings has been resurrected for another season on cable so you can continue to enjoy all of your favorite out of market games. And who played the biggest part perhaps in bringing this about? You guessed it…Senator John “Ketchup-Luvin’ Horse-Face” Kerry. Never in a million years did I think I would say, John Kerry is my hero!
So bring on those late night West Coast games…so I can listen to the legendary Vince Scully call Dodgers games and watch Greg Maddux pitch what may be his last season and continue my new love affair with the Minnesota Twins…shhh…the Braves and Phillies don’t need to know a thing.
I normally don’t post things like this…but as a true baseball fan, I can’t help but rejoice! HOT OFF THE PRESSES from Associated Press:
Baseball Keeps ‘Extra Innings’ on Cable
By RONALD BLUM (AP Baseball Writer)
From Associated Press
April 04, 2007 9:12 PM EDT
NEW YORK – After negotiations that went into extra innings, baseball struck a deal to keep its “Extra Innings” package of out-of-market games on cable television.
Under pressure from Sen. John Kerry, baseball and iN Demand reached an agreement in principle Wednesday on a seven-year contract, a deal that likely will allow the sport’s new TV network to be available in at least 40 million homes when it launches in 2009.
“The concern expressed by our fans who would have been forced to switch to alternative carriers or were unable to switch was something we tried to be responsive to,” baseball chief operating officer Bob DuPuy said.
Kerry had asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the original deal, and during a hearing last week in Washington he pushed baseball to resume talks with iN Demand, owned by affiliates of Time Warner, Comcast and Cox. While baseball had set a March 31 deadline, the sides kept negotiating and announced a deal Wednesday night, an agreement that still must be finalized.
“All we ever wanted was a victory for the fans, and this outcome is a big step forward,” Kerry said in a statement. “Everyone kept talking and pressing until we had a deal that protects the rights of most fans to follow their hometown team.”
IN Demand began making games available to cable systems in progress starting at 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday, president Robert Jacobson said. The package will be available for $159 this year through a free preview period that will extend into next week, he said, but the 2007 price for those subscribing after that has not been set.
“I’m exhausted but happy,” Jacobson said. “We always needed to feel like we were treated fairly relative to the other distributor. We felt like got our fair share.”
As part of the agreement, iN Demand and DirecTV each will receive about 16 percent equity in the new network, a person familiar with the deal said, speaking on condition of anonymity because that detail wasn’t announced. Under the original agreement, DirecTV was to be a 20 percent owner.
In Demand will make the “Extra Innings” package available to other cable companies, which also would be required to carry the MLB channel. Baseball is willing to resume negotiate with Echostar’s Dish Network, baseball spokesman Rich Levin said, but DirecTV president Chase Carey said he anticipated for now that his company would be an exclusive satellite carrier.
The dispute was largely over baseball’s desire to have a deal that will allow its network to be widely available on a basic cable tier. At 40 million homes, it would be one of the largest launches in cable history.
“It provides both the financial stability and the exposure to ensure a successful launch of the channel and bring the game to as many fans as possible,” DuPuy said.
Because of the new deal, DirecTV will pay less than it would have under the original agreement.
“The economics are better for us on the `Extra Innings’ side,” Carey said. “Clearly there were benefits you had in capturing subs (subscribers). We were paying a lot of money to get it. At what price? We weighed all the positives of each.”