The Extra Innings DirecTV deal and Tiger Fans

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the pending deal that would put MLB’s Extra Inning package exclusively on DirecTV. Previously, it was available on most major dish and cable systems. I live in Southeast Michigan so I unfortunately won’t be effected by this. However, I anticipated that many DTW readers wouldn’t be so lucky.

To get a handle on this I’ve been running a poll in the sidebar. Now that the poll is 10 days old, and we have 94 votes it’s probably time to take a look at the results.

How does MLB’s exclusive deal with DirecTV effect you
Response Results
I live in SE Michigan, it doesn’t make a difference 27%
I already have DirecTV and subscribe to MLB EI, so no change 6%
I’ll be watching the Tigers on now 26%
I’m switching to DirecTV because of this 2%
I’m out of luck. I can’t/won’t switch to DirecTV so I’ll miss the games 39%

Now this won’t impact a third of the respondents because they live in FSN Detroit’s range or they already have the DirecTV hookup.

For the remaining 63 respondents it is certainly a hostile action. Only 2 said this would cause them to switch to DirecTV. Meanwhile 39 said they’ll forgo watching the Tigers on TV because they won’t switch to DirecTV.

But I guess where this is good for MLB is that they look to have a decent demand for MLB Extra Innings.


First of all, don’t try to draw too much from any of this. I don’t know that this is a representative sample of fans. If you’re coming here, you’re probably a pretty die hard fan to begin with.

Second, I didn’t frame the question (or more accurately the answers) that great. We don’t know of that last group how many would have signed up for DirecTV with their cable provider. They may have been out of luck regardless. Also, we don’t know how many of the respondents were already getting That was poor execution on my part, and a little bit of the difficulty in having a one question poll.

Does MLB care?

Based on responses out of MLB offices, not really. Some of the responses have been nonsensical. Others have not really understood the crux of the problem from the fans perspective.

Fortunately with the increased interest in the Tigers, there are more games available on National TV. The Tigers already have 10 dates on ESPN and Fox and more will probably be added. Of course that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the Tigers on Saturday, but the situation should be better than in past years. Still, it’s not much consolation for fans who have been waiting a long time to watch a winning Tigers team.

20 thoughts on “The Extra Innings DirecTV deal and Tiger Fans”

  1. Thanks for the post on this Bilfer. I appreciate it. Well said. I came down under the Won’t switch to DirectTV. But I’ve calmed down a BIT about it, since I’ve decided I can live with MLBTV online, but would still much prefer to order through my local cable provider. As long as I get to see the boys play somehow this summer, I’ll survive. All that being said, I still think MLB is STUPID for pursing this. And I can’t believe that I agree with something John Kerry had to say!

  2. I think this is absurd. How and why would MLB treat their fans like this. Yes I know money. But does it always have to be about money??????????

    I don’t want to watch MLB on my computer, I want to watch it on my TV, that’s why I have one along with a comfy couch and ottoman. Why – O – Why can’t they sell it to both cable and Direct. The price is too cheap to begin with @ 150. for what you get it should be 300, which is what I would pay

    I am appalled at this. Yes I am sure that MLB will get what they want but I will tell you here and now I will not spend one dime nor change my provider. Once you sign up for anything its murder to change or leave. So OK MLB did you really get what you want.

    How does Direct TV make money if the amount of subscribers go too low? Answer: Cable would not give MLB a guaranteed baseball channel, Direct TV would so its over.

    I feel slightly better now. Joey C haven’t heard from you in a while are you still with us.

    Billfer great job with interesting posts during a down time. I guess this year the in game blog will heard only via XM radio (see above)

    Is anyone going to any spring training action. I will be in fla for business and can sneak away for one roadie against Houston.


  3. ** Last year many people hung here while watching the game and added their thoughts while the game was live. I meant to say that this will be radio only for me if the direct tv deal goes through. During my above rant I got off track.

    The only thing worse than the MLBEI deal would be having to listen to the White Sox announcers every night. 😉


  4. first, Bilfer, you forgot people who are outstate and also not affected by this in your poll. Minor wording thing like you said. So some may not have responded that way.

    Second, I think it was Joe Sheehan at Baseball Prospectus who thought this was a good idea. He thought most EI subscribers were super fans who wanted more games, rather than re-located fans. I’m not sure if I agree with that premise. So he figured people would just change their viewing habits. He thought it would force people to watch their local team, thus increasing its revenue, or they’d get, thus increasing its revenue, meanwhile not THAT many people would be effected. I dont agree. I think it really hurts fans who move and want to keep watching their team. But that’s one viewpoint on why MLB would do this, anyway.

    And finally for Ed, some video cards you can install do allow you to connect them to a TV. It depends on the card.

  5. This deal stinks. I don’t really blame MLB as much as I do Directv. Directv is in the active pursuit of a monopoly on the rights to broadcast out of market sports games. First, there are two types of consumers, these super fans (fantasy baseball people) who want more games, then there are the out of staters that want to watch the Tigers, White Sox, or Yankees, but they no longer live in their respective towns. Either way, these types of fans are put in a really tough position. Directv charges $700 for a HD box (this is the price I was quoted september 2005) and their service is more expensive than Comcast.
    Directv and MLB’s deal is I believe 8 years $800 Million. MLB Extra Innings had 750,000 subscribers last year and the deal was not exclusive. Therefore, it seems fair to assume that Directv had no more than 500,000 subscribers (very generous seeing that directv has 10% of the cable market share). At $160 a subscription is $80 Million in revenue. That means if these numbers hold they will actually be losing money on the Directv deal. What they do make money on is having more saps like me switch over and pay more money for satalite when we don’t want to, but we are forced to b/c of the two exclusive deals they have now, NFL and MLB. This type of “tying” has been held illegal in some similar types of cases (dealing with patents) and I think that John Kerry was correct in turning this into the FCC for further examination.

    Go Tigers!! Can’t wait for Spring Training!!!!

  6. Juan Gone? Off topic but interesting. Wonder if he’ll take a minor league deal ala Sosa.

    02/03/2007 9:07 PM ET
    Juan Gonzalez eyes return to Majors
    Coming back from injuries, slugger sets sights on 500 homers
    By Jesse Sanchez /

    CAROLINA, P.R. — For eight seconds about every other inning, the boisterous crowd at Estadio Municipal Roberto Clemente Walker Stadium gets silent. The horns cease and the chants for their beloved Puerto Rico squad calm to a hum as the tranquil sound of Samuel Hernandez’s “Levanto Mis Manos” fill the stands.
    This is the song, a Christian melody about raising your hands in glory, that serenades Puerto Rico’s Juan Gonzalez every time he strolls to the plate during the 2007 Caribbean Series. During his heyday in Texas, Gonzalez often used Darth Vader’s Imperial March as his melody of choice, but that was a different Gonzalez.

    This one is older. He’s wiser. He’s also healthy and has his eyes set on 500 career home runs.

    Gonzalez has 434 career home runs and has driven in 1,404 runs in his 17-year career with Texas, Detroit, Kansas City and Cleveland.

    “I still can play and I couldn’t before because I was hurt,” said Gonzalez, who will be 38 in September. “I can’t do anything about that anymore because that is history. I have a goal and that is I want to hit 500 home runs and maybe then I will retire. Maybe. We’ll see what God has planned for me.”

    Gonzalez said at least four Major League teams are interested in signing him for the 2007 season, and he is looking forward to reporting to a club for Spring Training in a few weeks. According to published reports in Puerto Rico, the Angels, Tigers and Orioles have all expressed interest in signing the former two-time American League Most Valuable Player.

    “I think he can still perform in the big leagues and I know he can still get a lot of RBIs,” said Puerto Rico teammate and Red Sox infielder Alex Cora. “I think now he is a different Juan Gonzalez in the sense where he is not driving the ball out of the park, but this is not a real easy league to hit in. The strike zone is a little bit bigger. I think if he gets a shot, he can be very productive.”

    In 33 games for the Puerto Rico baseball league champion Carolina Gigantes, Gonzalez hit .281 with 18 RBIs and four home runs. In 12 playoff games, he hit .369 with three home runs and five RBIs.

    Reserved and confident, Gonzalez flashes his muscular forearms when asked if his power has declined and is now a singles-only hitter. He can still hit the long ball a long way, he says.

    “They don’t really challenge me here, but I understand,” Gonzalez said. “It’s not the same quality as the Major Leagues. There are a lot of Rookie League, [Class A] and Double-A pitchers here. To face Major League pitchers is different, and I know I can still do it.”

    That is to be determined, but he sure looks like it. A lean Gonzalez estimates he weighs about 230 pounds and said he works out every day. He can still throw, he says, but is most proud of the fact that he is healthy and no longer feeling any pain in his legs.

    “I’m great, thanks to God,” Gonzalez said. “I’m playing here and working hard. We won the league and I did my job. I am waiting on the [Major League] clubs and see what will happen.”

    Originally signed by the Rangers, Gonzalez played 11 consecutive seasons with Texas from 1989-99, winning two AL MVP Awards during that stretch, before being traded to Detroit for the 2000 season. In 2001, he hit 35 home runs with 140 RBIs with Cleveland, but has not been the same since because of a series of back and leg injuries.

    He hit .282 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs in the first of two injury-plagued seasons during his second stint with the Rangers starting in 2002, and he played in only 33 games for Kansas City in 2004 because of a hamstring problem. He attempted a comeback the next year, signing with Cleveland in 2005 for $600,000, but he injured himself in his first at-bat of the season and did not play another Major League game.

    He still hasn’t. Gonzalez spent last season playing for the Newark Bears in the independent Atlantic League. “Everyday players have a hard enough time hitting, but imagine being a guy who does that for a living and then has to stop for two years because of injuries,” Cora said. “That’s not an easy thing to do.”

    Gonzalez recognizes the challenge ahead of him, but says he is not worried. He believes as long as he can get around the bases, he can help a Major League team because he can hit and play some outfield.

    “I’m basically a normal guy,” he said. “And I see myself like everybody else. I have things I want to do in my life just like everybody else does.”

    Next on the list is making it back to the big leagues and joining the 500-home run club.

  7. as long as we’re off topic…

    From a (free) Baseball Prospectus article on a Caribbean World Series game:

    “Juan Gonzalez makes the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz look nimble and flexible. Watching him run the bases, I constantly expected to hear a loud snapping sound followed by a trail of body parts. Igor still has the long looping swing, but his bat speed isn’t where he can really turn on Dessens’ heat in the third. He’s trying to cheat, and it just isn’t working.”

  8. The sad reality is that I will have to change over to direct tv. I’ve been getting MLBEI for the last 4 years or so, I’ve seen the Tigs at their worst. I can’t not watch them now cuz I’m pissed MLB made a stupid deal. Last I looked the HD/DVR box from directv was $200 (free w/cable) and all other boxes were free. I can’t imagine a summer without watching the Tigs now that I have been spoiled for the past few years.

    Steve I agree about the Sux announcers! HA!

  9. I am extremely disappointed with this decision by MLB and directTV. I fault MLB for this more than DirectTV. It is only business for DirectTV for MLB it is more than that. I one hand I understand how MLB sees what the NFL has done and wants to be just as successful. Though, NFL does not have sport to fan issues that MLB does. MLB has to be much more cognisint of alienating fans.

    On a personal note I am pissed. I move to DC in the fall and was counting on the package to watch my Tigers. I am a die hard fan. I came back twice last year during the playoffs to go to game. I even renewed my 27 game package even though wont be there so I can go to opening day and the playoffs. I can’t get DirectTV cause my complex will not allow it. So, I will have to move or get MLBtv/XM radio. Choosing the later is not the same as watching on TV. I guess in the meantime I will by the offseason MLBtv package for $14.95 to test how will it work for me and to see if I can hook it up to my TV. The problem with hooking it up to my tv is that I can’t blog during the game.

    Overall this sucks!

  10. Yeah, so we all agree it sucks. WHO GIVES A CRAP!
    okay, so what, you watch it on the computer now. I really think everyone here is making much too big a deal about this. The Tigs have 161 games on TV this year and we’re complaining. What has this world come to?

  11. 161 games a year if you live southeast Michigan…10 for everyone else. That’s why it’s a big deal.

  12. Mark,

    Tiger fans who don’t live in/around Detroit. That’s who gives a crap.

    They have 161 games on TV this year that only local Tiger fans can watch. Watching on a computer is not a reasonable option. I know it wouldn’t be one I would choose at all if I was in the situation those fans aren’t. Luckily I am not, but that isn’t to say that won’t change. So, in turn, I care as well.

  13. Mark,

    It is a big deal. Why can MLB make a deal with every system. Because now that the sport has recovered a bit from the srtike and the roids, they want their own channel WHY, I have no idea. I would never watch it. I want to see the Tigers. I live in Upstate NY so its either MLBEI or XM radio with a few games on TV, a Bluejays series in April and a Indians series in June. If Im luckie a Roadie to D-town in Late August.
    Did I mention just say no to Direct TV? I do agree with Mark P, its really a MLB issue and, they are shafting us. How about that!!! Bud Selig who has lucked out from the begining, being at the barrel end of the biggest shafting yet. Bud ole’ boy your time is comming. I dont know what, but if you let this happen to Gods fans he will throw a lightning bolt on you.


  14. well, personal hangup here I suppose, but there is life outside southeast Michigan. Most of the state is guaranteed 144 games as long as they have FSN, and hopefully most of it ends up with 161. Doesn’t change anything about DirecTV, but I don’t want a possible misconception to get repeated.

  15. MLBTV was unwatchable last year. There is no comparison between watching a clear picture on your TV vs. watching a 1/4 sized blotchy web feed. Even watching a game on a 5″ TV set is much better than watching on your broadband connection. We live out-of-market and can’t get satellite. (Long story, but we can’t get a signal.) I have no love for our cable company, but it’s a big hassle for people to switch.

    Reducing the reach of Extra Innings is a slap in the face to all fans. How would DTV subscribers feel if the Extra Innings package was not available to them?

    MLB should care more about their fans. It isn’t just the “right” thing to do, it makes economic sense long-term. They should consider all of the “free marketing” their fans do for them in growing the next generation of baseball fans as the love for the game is passed on.

  16. We bought MLB Extra Innings on Comcast last season & planned on it again. I’m not sure how this deal can go through when it is a complete violation of anti- trust laws. E.I. had multiple competing markets, cable & Dish were also providers & now 4 other companies are suddenly locked out. Where’s Comcast, there’s 750K MLB cable subscribers they’ll lose?

    At first DirecTV will offer terrific deals and free installation & DVR with cheap service rates… but once they own it all they can raise rates, double or triple subscription costs to make up for the money lost. This is not free market enterprise, it’s a monopoly. has a “contact us” address, perhaps if they got flooded with responses from all over they would reconsider. This deal hasn’t gone thru yet & affects ALL baseball fans who depend on Extra Innings, no matter the venue or color of the uniform. Crikey this really pisses me off. I’ll buy a MSN internet modem & Comcast broadband before I ever buy DirecTV.

  17. This deal (when complete) will be a sad day for hardcore fans like myself.

    I Live in Savannah, Georgia so there is not a way for me to watch the Tigers regularly. The Extra Innings package is a great thing. I could not stop flipping between the Tigers, White Sox and Twins games towards the end of the season. Where I live, your not allowed to have dishes. It’s wrong for MLB to make this decision. DirecTV has the package already, but they want to make it exclusive to them for the money. That is what it is all about these days anyway, are you surprised?

    DirecTV is looking to bolster it’s subscribers. In the US, only fifteen percent of homes have a satellite. It has not worked with the “Sunday Ticket Package”, why would it work with MLB?

    If I lived somewhere where I was able to have one, I would switch. Even more sad, I would order sunday ticket to watch the lions (groans). I hope Bud Selig opens his ears and listens to the fans that spend 200 bucks year after year into his bank account.

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