Someone from Major League Baseball finally spoke about the looming deal to provide DirecTV with exclusive rights to the Extra Innings package. In an Op/Ed in USA Today, Tim Brosnan, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president, business, had this to say in defense of whatever action Major League Baseball eventually announces.
We offer the following assurances to our fans: Any deal for the Major League Baseball’s Extra Innings subscription package, when concluded, will in no way affect a single fan’s ability to watch games of his home club in his home market. Major League Baseball will continue to make available on basic cable, satellite and broadcast television more games by far than any other sport (on average, more than 400 games per year are telecast in each market); a subscription package of out-of-market games will continue to be available to a broad segment of our fan base through either MLB Extra Innings or MLB.TV, its broadband counterpart.
There are two fundamental flaws in that paragraph. One reveals why MLB’s executives will make the right decision only if they’re lucky. The other is based on inaccurate marketing fluff.
Basically, MLB has no business acumen. It’s decision is based on justifying what it wants to do rather than doing what is justified. Mr. Brosnan states that the deal for Extra Innings “will in no way affect a single fan’s ability to watch games of his home club in his home market.” This is either ignorant or insulting. The issue is not about home clubs in home markets. MLB thinks the hardcore fans it courts with Extra Innings are merely locals who want more games. It is ignoring those fans who subscribe to Extra Innings to see their favorite team. I suspect that’s the majority of subscribers.
In my case, I subscribe to watch as many Phillies games as possible. I don’t care one bit about the Orioles or the Nationals, the two teams I’m supposed to focus on given my geographical location. I will not ask for forgiveness for developing a rooting passion that doesn’t involve a franchise that qualifies as a toddler or a franchise with a misguided superiority complex.
To Mr. Brosnan’s second claim, of course baseball broadcasts far more games than any other major sport. It plays at least twice as many games as every other sport. This is not a major feat. It’s certainly not something to brag about, given how easily commenter dianagram deflated the non-argument on USA Today’s Op/Ed blog:
Let’s do some math …. 162 games * 30 teams / 2 teams per game = 2430 possible games. You are therefore offering 1/6th of the total universe of games. The NFL offers 4 games per week on basic cable or major network (out of a possible 16 games). They therefore offer 1/4th of their total universe of games. What am I missing (I mean, BESIDES the 60 games a week on Extra Innings)?
Major League Baseball doesn’t understand its fan base. It’s too busy making decisions it thinks customers should want, decisions that comply with the strategy it hopes to pursue, while its best customers adamantly tell it that they want something else. To make this situation worse, MLB is dragging this out at a time when the focus should be on the field. Trading goodwill for a few dollars is bad long-term business.
USA Today’s opposing editorial can be found here.