Front Office Fan

A Take on the Games We Watch and the Industry Behind Them

Where Will In-Market Streaming Take Sports?

Posted by GM/VP of Fan Operations on Thursday, July 2, 2009

This week the SportsBusiness Journal reported that Major League Baseball’s Commissioner, Bud Selig, sent a memo to all 30 teams outlining details for live in-market streaming in response to new deals from the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres. Selig detailed that revenue from such deals would be split between MLB Advanced Media and local interests.

While each streaming deal will be different, in large part because of how the local half of the revenue is divided, Selig noted “the same relative terms” will be used in all future in-market streaming agreements.

MLB’s acceptance of live in-market streaming will revolutionize the way we watch sports the same way Hulu has changed how we watch television.

Thanks to Hulu there is no reason to be a cable/satellite subscriber. South Park is free online, so why should I pay for Comedy Central? Ditto for viewers of FX’s Rescue Me, MTV’s The Real World, USA’s Burn Notice, and hundreds of other shows streaming free online and with limited commercial interruption. The same could hold true for sports.

All mediums are merging with the internet and the expected progress is that televisions will be wired to the internet over traditional cable and satellite hook-ups. Leagues and teams could then bypass network mediators to sell their games directly to consumers the same way Twitter bypasses traditional media to report news.

Wouldn’t some out-of-market subscribers to league packages rather pay for just their team? How many YES Network subscriptions would be cancelled if fans could pay less for just Yankees games? Is it too presumptuous to think that buffet-style subscriptions could be more profitable?

Of course all this is just speculation.

If leagues began to sell directly to individuals over networks they could be taken to court for violating antitrust laws. More importantly, the economics of selling directly to the consumer may not be fiscally sound.

What need not be speculated is how important this is for the future of sports broadcasts.

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