PDA

View Full Version : MLB fears golden goose is cooked (A La Carte TV Discussion)


Fenway
11-21-2009, 01:35 PM
MLB owners met at O'Hare this week and I have been told the major topic is the fear that the Cable-TV golden goose may be near the end of the road. MLB is terrified this could start as early as 2011.

(Please keep politics out of this even though Congress is involved)

The issue is the price of cable to the average US household which as we all know keeps going up. The problem is universal subscriber fees per channel where the bulk of your bill goes.

Disney (ESPN) leads the pack and they alone cost every cable household $5 plus a month, even if you never watch them. 70 percent of cable homes polled said they would drop ESPN if given the chance. That may soon be an option.

The concept of 'a-la-carte' pricing isn't new (Canada has had it for years) but the FCC can't order it unless Congress mandates it. It now appears that will happen.

To get an idea on how it works, this is the home page of the cable company in Montreal. As you can see after a very cheap basic tier, a customer can then order whatever stations they want with 350 to choose from.

http://www.videotron.com/service/tv/illico-digital

On a national level ESPN would no longer be able to bid huge amounts to lock up games like they have with the BCS. The NBA would take a huge hit as would to a smaller extent the NFL.

With MLB it would really hurt at the local level ESPECIALLY with teams that own their own networks like the Yankees and Red Sox.

MLB and the other sports have a problem...how can you lobby that it is OK for everybody to pay for sports when only 30 percent of viewers actually do.

We who are baseball fans would pay for the games..but how much? Then how do teams offset the lost revenue? Well salaries would collapse...

Cable TV is the main reason salaries just exploded since 1990. If that money vanishes then what?

There is no way to spin this. How can you continue to tell people they must pay for channels they never watch?

DSpivack
11-21-2009, 02:05 PM
In England, I believe even Premier League soccer games are seen either on subscription cable or on a pay-per-view basis. I wouldn't be surprised if free over-the-air sports aren't long for the future.

voodoochile
11-21-2009, 02:30 PM
In England, I believe even Premier League soccer games are seen either on subscription cable or on a pay-per-view basis. I wouldn't be surprised if free over-the-air sports aren't long for the future.

Ratings are too good for the big events, so at least those will be still broadcast.

I look at that link Fenway posted and I start to cry. I'm paying more for my expanded basic analog service than the 30 channel+movie channel package and theirs is Canadian dollars...

LongLiveFisk
11-21-2009, 02:54 PM
The concept of 'a-la-carte' pricing isn't new (Canada has had it for years) but the FCC can't order it unless Congress mandates it. It now appears that will happen.

I have been praying for this for years. Consumers should have a choice. I shouldn't have to pay for channels I don't watch. So without getting political, I do hope Congress mandates it.

Noneck
11-21-2009, 03:41 PM
I'm paying more for my expanded basic analog service than the 30 channel+movie channel package and theirs is Canadian dollars...

I see that also. But then I think about the sit down with the family to pick which channels we should have. All sharp objects will have to be put away and ear plugs provided for neighbors up and down the block. Then I am afraid that I will end up paying more than I am now.:mad:

Fenway
11-21-2009, 03:41 PM
Ratings are too good for the big events, so at least those will be still broadcast.

I look at that link Fenway posted and I start to cry. I'm paying more for my expanded basic analog service than the 30 channel+movie channel package and theirs is Canadian dollars...

You play with their order form and you really do want to cry.

Right now EVERY cable home in New York STATE, two-thirds of New Jersey, all of Connecticut and Northeastern Penna are paying the Yankees $2 a month. If YES went to a-la-carte they would get 8 to 10 percent tops. NESN the same way.

The sports channels are by far the most expensive in subscriber fees. People should not have to pay for something they never watch.

Obviously even with a-la-carte there is no shortage of cable stations in Canada as the link shows. They must be all making money.

voodoochile
11-21-2009, 03:59 PM
I see that also. But then I think about the sit down with the family to pick which channels we should have. All sharp objects will have to be put away and ear plugs provided for neighbors up and down the block. Then I am afraid that I will end up paying more than I am now.:mad:

30 channels is a lot of extra channels...

ESPN
ESPN2
TNT
TBS
History
FX
USA
DSC
Comedy
AMC

A&E
NGC
WGN
T0ON
TCM
SyFy
FSN
Bravo

That's pretty much everything I use from the expanded package and there are stations in that list I don't spend much time on at all.

That still leaves 12 stations. I'd be getting stuff just in case my nieces and nephews came for a visit and stuff like CSPAN for big moments that I want to follow.

Of course my viewing habits might be different because of my hearing loss, still, 30 stations should be plenty.

dickallen15
11-21-2009, 04:05 PM
MLB owners met at O'Hare this week and I have been told the major topic is the fear that the Cable-TV golden goose may be near the end of the road. MLB is terrified this could start as early as 2011.

(Please keep politics out of this even though Congress is involved)

The issue is the price of cable to the average US household which as we all know keeps going up. The problem is universal subscriber fees per channel where the bulk of your bill goes.

Disney (ESPN) leads the pack and they alone cost every cable household $5 plus a month, even if you never watch them. 70 percent of cable homes polled said they would drop ESPN if given the chance. That may soon be an option.

The concept of 'a-la-carte' pricing isn't new (Canada has had it for years) but the FCC can't order it unless Congress mandates it. It now appears that will happen.

To get an idea on how it works, this is the home page of the cable company in Montreal. As you can see after a very cheap basic tier, a customer can then order whatever stations they want with 350 to choose from.

http://www.videotron.com/service/tv/illico-digital

On a national level ESPN would no longer be able to bid huge amounts to lock up games like they have with the BCS. The NBA would take a huge hit as would to a smaller extent the NFL.

With MLB it would really hurt at the local level ESPECIALLY with teams that own their own networks like the Yankees and Red Sox.

MLB and the other sports have a problem...how can you lobby that it is OK for everybody to pay for sports when only 30 percent of viewers actually do.

We who are baseball fans would pay for the games..but how much? Then how do teams offset the lost revenue? Well salaries would collapse...

Cable TV is the main reason salaries just exploded since 1990. If that money vanishes then what?

There is no way to spin this. How can you continue to tell people they must pay for channels they never watch?

Considering each team spent $3 million each on MLB Advanced Media and an IPO could net them as much as $100 million each, $3 billion total, but the owners don't want to do it because their finances would become public, I'm not crying for them just yet.

Noneck
11-21-2009, 04:18 PM
30 channels is a lot of extra channels...

ESPN
ESPN2
TNT
TBS
History
FX
USA
DSC
Comedy
AMC

A&E
NGC
WGN
T0ON
TCM
SyFy
FSN
Bravo

That's pretty much everything I use from the expanded package and there are stations in that list I don't spend much time on at all.

That still leaves 12 stations. I'd be getting stuff just in case my nieces and nephews came for a visit and stuff like CSPAN for big moments that I want to follow.

Of course my viewing habits might be different because of my hearing loss, still, 30 stations should be plenty.

I could live with what you stated but once choices are given, my family will want to go hog wild. It will turn into "she got that so why cant I get what I want." Then the wife saying "Yea I need that channel and this channel" because once in a blue moon she watched it. Then the "Its only 5 bucks more stuff." Believe me, choices are no good with my family. Ok, thanks for listening now on to a phone call to try to get on the Dr. Phil show.

dagame2005
11-21-2009, 04:52 PM
It was my understanding that the issue of "a-la carte" pricing came up in front of Congress last year with nothing resulting from it. What has changed to make us think it will happen this time? That said, I really hope it does happen. I only watch about 5 or 6 channels.

It's Dankerific
11-21-2009, 04:57 PM
I think A la cart pricing would make new channels very hard to start. Who knew that some of the channels we have today would be so interesting. I hope that some sort of packaging still exists in the future.

soxfanreggie
11-21-2009, 06:21 PM
The pros are more about consumer freedom to choose what they want.

The cons are more about how some channels would never survive if the cable packages werent' forced to carry them.

I think if you went with customer freedom, you'd see the price of ESPN drop big time.

chisoxfanatic
11-21-2009, 06:34 PM
About 80% of my viewing during 8 months of the year is hockey, so I should only have to pay for my Center Ice subscription during those 8 months, and maybe a little more. I'll pay for my regular bills during the other 4 months. :redneck

JorgeFabregas
11-21-2009, 07:32 PM
Doesn't ESPN do something similar with ISPs--tries to strong-arm them into paying for espn360.com for all of their subscribers?

Hitmen77
11-21-2009, 08:58 PM
I like the idea of a-la-carte cable tv. There are many basic cable channels that run mostly garbage that I'd gladly drop. But I have to wonder if it will further drive every cable network to run general "lowest common denominator" programming.

It's already bad enough now without ala carte: History runs more sensationalistic crap than real history, A&E has dropped all "arts" has become nothing but CSI and Sopranos reruns, Bravo is used to be fine arts and is now just general audience garbage. I can only imagine that under ala carte, it would get much worse as every channel races to get picked up as many people as possible....which probably means all "shoot-em-ups", reality shows, and sensationalistic programming on all channels.

Fenway
11-21-2009, 10:10 PM
I think A la cart pricing would make new channels very hard to start. Who knew that some of the channels we have today would be so interesting. I hope that some sort of packaging still exists in the future.

New channels keep appearing in Canada monthly..

They usually have a free preview for 3-6 months to gain traction. Good reviews and word of mouth and people select them (and may drop something else)

ALSO since the channels have to fight for each subscriber quality improves. While many of the Canada channels have the same name and logo as their US cousins, programming can be different. They also offer many US based channels.

The business model works in a country of 30 million and everyone seems happy with it.

As far as what has changed in Congress? Simple - the disastrous transition from analog to digital. Most of these converter boxes are garbage and since digital can have multipath issues, you can be one mile from the transmitter and not get a signal. So many who didn't want cable are now forced to buy it.

Canada actually has more sports channels than the US and they all are making money. But as you can see from the link in post 1 you don't have to get them if you don't want them.

The NY Times reported today that NBC took in $5.6 billion in advertising last year..ESPN only $1.6 billion in ads BUT took in $4.4 billion in subscriber fees.

NBC made a profit of $304 million, ESPN $1.4 BILLION.

Something has to give.

PaleHoser
11-22-2009, 12:10 AM
Thirty years ago when I first subscribed to cable TV, there were few if any ads. That's why you paid a subscription.

Now I pay almost $100 a month for satellite service to three TV's in my home. I watch on average about eight channels of the 'extended' basic package we get. My family watches about 14 total.

There's no question I would continue to pay for Comcast SportsNet from March through September, but I have no use for that channel when the Sox aren't playing.

When I subscribed to cable, I was particularly fond of those times my bill would creep up $1-$2 a month after they added Spanish-speaking channels. I don't speak a word of it.

Fenway
11-22-2009, 12:27 AM
In Boston when NESN first started in 1984 it was $10 a month for Red Sox and Bruins or you could combo with the Celtics channel PRISM (later Sportschannel) for $15 for both ( also got the Whalers as a bonus)

That stayed the same until 1999 when they both went basic.




Thirty years ago when I first subscribed to cable TV, there were few if any ads. That's why you paid a subscription.

Now I pay almost $100 a month for satellite service to three TV's in my home. I watch on average about eight channels of the 'extended' basic package we get. My family watches about 14 total.

There's no question I would continue to pay for Comcast SportsNet from March through September, but I have no use for that channel when the Sox aren't playing.

When I subscribed to cable, I was particularly fond of those times my bill would creep up $1-$2 a month after they added Spanish-speaking channels. I don't speak a word of it.

Nellie_Fox
11-22-2009, 01:20 AM
About 80% of my viewing during 8 months of the year is hockey, so I should only have to pay for my Center Ice subscription during those 8 months, and maybe a little more. I'll pay for my regular bills during the other 4 months. :redneckNot quite sure what you're saying here, unless your cable system works very differently than mine. I only pay for Center Ice once for the whole season (I can choose three payments if I want, but I just pay for it in a lump.) I don't pay all year around.

DSpivack
11-22-2009, 01:35 AM
In Boston when NESN first started in 1984 it was $10 a month for Red Sox and Bruins or you could combo with the Celtics channel PRISM (later Sportschannel) for $15 for both ( also got the Whalers as a bonus)

That stayed the same until 1999 when they both went basic.

Did NESN launch around the same time as SportsChannel? Why was that model successful in Boston and not in Chicago?

Mohoney
11-22-2009, 04:48 AM
Did NESN launch around the same time as SportsChannel? Why was that model successful in Boston and not in Chicago?

Here's a link to an excellent feature by Lip on SportsVision. Scroll down to the paragraph entitled "What Went Wrong?"

http://www.whitesoxinteractive.com/rwas/index.php?id=2096&category=2

eastchicagosoxfan
11-22-2009, 05:36 AM
You play with their order form and you really do want to cry.

Right now EVERY cable home in New York STATE, two-thirds of New Jersey, all of Connecticut and Northeastern Penna are paying the Yankees $2 a month. If YES went to a-la-carte they would get 8 to 10 percent tops. NESN the same way.

The sports channels are by far the most expensive in subscriber fees. People should not have to pay for something they never watch.


That's just sick!! I hope it happens. There are so many aspects about the sports industry that disgust me, and I hope that by ending this tax/subsidy, enough money gets sucked out to bring some sanity to the various leagues and the NCAA.

eastchicagosoxfan
11-22-2009, 05:52 AM
This is a tangent from the thread in Talking Baseball about the possible effects ala carte tv would have on MLB. If subscriber tv were ala carte, what channels would you pay for? What's the most you'd be willing to pay a month for a single channel?

TV Land
A&E
Bio
History
History International
AMC
TCM
ESPN
ESPN2 (it would be interesting to see how the programming is sheduled)
Speed
NFL
Discovery
Natgeo
Military
CNN
Travel
Comcast SportsNet
Encore or something similiar that shows movies uncut
Big Ten Network
ITVN (Polish Language)
TVN24 (Polish Language)

My ceiling woud probably be $10 a month for Comcast Sports Net so I could watch Sox games.

I have 20 channels, plus my locals. That covers my wife's viewing too.

Scottiehaswheels
11-22-2009, 06:32 AM
I would hope that ala carte pricing would then force blackout rules to be negated. In that case I would save a crap ton of money, MLB Extra Innings would probably cease to exist at that point though so I doubt that would happen. Based on my families' various interests, I can't see us saving a whole bunch of money compared to now though.

My families' list?

FX
Comedy Central
TBS
Fox News
Fox Business
Bloomberg
CNBC
HGTV
Cartoon Network
Boomerang
Nickelodeon
HBO
Showtime
Style
AMC
Chiller
plenty others I can't think of now I'm sure.

WSox597
11-22-2009, 07:06 AM
I'd love to see it, too. There are quite a few channels I consider a waste of space and would never watch.

WSox597
11-22-2009, 07:13 AM
History Channel
History International
Discovery Science
VS
Hallmark (wife)
AMC (wife)
Comcast Sportsnet
Fox News
TMC (wife)
TBS
TNT
National Geographic
Discovery

Local channels of course

I'd also drop the movie channels, which I could do now, but my wife enjoys them once in a while. When she gets tired of them, blam they're gone.

doublem23
11-22-2009, 07:54 AM
I'd love to see it, too. There are quite a few channels I consider a waste of space and would never watch.

Yeah, but you got to remember that a lot of those "waste of space" are actually paying your cable company to keep them on the air, thus lowering your bill (especially all the home shopping channels). It's nice to sit here and say I only want these sports channels, these movie channels, and a few channels my favorite TV shows are on, but I think some of you would be in for some serious sticker shock.

You got to remember that cable and satellite TV companies are all evil and soulless and they don't care about you one bit past you paying your bill on time each month. A la carte TV sounds nice, but anyone who thinks this is a be all, end all way to make your life easier and make your bills cheaper is awfully, awfully naive.

seasontickets
11-22-2009, 09:02 AM
None. I like the choice of watching and looking through all the stations, even though I usually only watch sports and Fox news channel.

voodoochile
11-22-2009, 09:15 AM
Yeah, but you got to remember that a lot of those "waste of space" are actually paying your cable company to keep them on the air, thus lowering your bill (especially all the home shopping channels). It's nice to sit here and say I only want these sports channels, these movie channels, and a few channels my favorite TV shows are on, but I think some of you would be in for some serious sticker shock.

You got to remember that cable and satellite TV companies are all evil and soulless and they don't care about you one bit past you paying your bill on time each month. A la carte TV sounds nice, but anyone who thinks this is a be all, end all way to make your life easier and make your bills cheaper is awfully, awfully naive.

Those would probably be included in the basic package though. It's when you get into expanded basic that you start to talk about stations you need to pay to receive.

russ99
11-22-2009, 09:22 AM
One aspect of ala carte that you guys haven't touched on is that it would be easier for viewers to give a chance to non-mainstream networks, since they wouldn't have to pay $10-20 more to upgrade their package in order to add those channels.

I'm completely for ala-carte. But this won't change without a fight, since certain providers are making a killing with the current system.

Looks like consumers and small networks vs. carriers and big networks.

DSpivack
11-22-2009, 09:28 AM
That's just sick!! I hope it happens. There are so many aspects about the sports industry that disgust me, and I hope that by ending this tax/subsidy, enough money gets sucked out to bring some sanity to the various leagues and the NCAA.

Hah, don't hold your breathe.

Fenway
11-22-2009, 11:27 AM
Here's a link to an excellent feature by Lip on SportsVision. Scroll down to the paragraph entitled "What Went Wrong?"

http://www.whitesoxinteractive.com/rwas/index.php?id=2096&category=2

In Boston the Celtics were the first to try pay cable as they put home games on a channel called PRISM in 1981. Prism was a HBO clone that offered movies and Celtics for ten bucks a month.

Charles Dolan bought PRISM in 1983 and renamed it Sportschannel. In 1984 the Red Sox, Bruins and WSBK started NESN.

NESN almost folded as Dolan who owned Cablevision refused to carry the channel in the City of Boston hoping the Sox and Bruins would give up and switch to Sportschannel. This went on for 2 years but in 86 the Red Sox started winning and the Mayor told Dolan to add NESN or he would revoke the franchise of Cablevision.

So Sportsvision had the Celtics and Whalers and NESN the Red Sox and Bruins and you could buy both for $15 a month until 1999 when they both became basic.

The model worked in Boston, Detroit and Baltimore because there was only one baseball team..in Chicago it was flawed as the Cubs were free on channel 9.

In the early days of cable in Boston the big hook was getting the Yankees and Mets from WPIX and WOR and in Manhattan the company there added WSBK for the Red Sox.

WSBK became a huge superstation in the Northeast and all of Canada because of baseball and hockey.

g0g0
11-23-2009, 08:00 AM
I'd like to feel bad about losing some games, but I really can't. The U.S. has so many leagues that there would still be games to watch. Maybe people would go outside more and lose some weight. I also don't see salaries of players imploding being a bad thing. They are way too overpaid to be playing a child's game.

Randar68
11-23-2009, 11:55 AM
a la carte pricing at last? This has been discussed for a long time without any traction on it. Would love to see it though. I only watch about 15-20 different channels.

gobears1987
11-23-2009, 12:24 PM
This means that subscribers would have to choose to have CSN. I guess Eddie Einhorn and Jerry Reinsdorf were waaaaay ahead of their time when they put the Sox on Sportsvision. Who knew that almost 30 years later that would stand to become the standard. CSN would basically become what Sportsvision was.

soxinem1
11-23-2009, 12:42 PM
This is similar to the deregulation of utility companies. Sure, you can buy energy at a lower bulk rate, but then PE or ComEd charge you more because you have to utilize their infrastructure to get your bulk energy, so your energy delivery charges are higher.

In this case, A La Carte sounds appealing, but don't expect your bill to drop. All they (meaning the cable-satellite providers) will do is bill you X dollars and give you a choice of the channels, meaning they will still rake in $$$$ at the same rate they do now, but the cost per channel will increase.

Freedom does have a price.

soxinem1
11-23-2009, 12:46 PM
This means that subscribers would have to choose to have CSN. I guess Eddie Einhorn and Jerry Reinsdorf were waaaaay ahead of their time when they put the Sox on Sportsvision. Who knew that almost 30 years later that would stand to become the standard. CSN would basically become what Sportsvision was.

I think George Steinbrenner was more ahead of his time with how he arranged the TV deal for the NYY.

That deal is set up in such a way that customers in other states pay a few dollars each month for Yankee games, and they may not even watch them. I don't think any other team has anything close to that kind of set up, except maybe ATL with TBS.

Fenway
11-23-2009, 01:31 PM
I think George Steinbrenner was more ahead of his time with how he arranged the TV deal for the NYY.

That deal is set up in such a way that customers in other states pay a few dollars each month for Yankee games, and they may not even watch them. I don't think any other team has anything close to that kind of set up, except maybe ATL with TBS.

Steinbrenner actually got the idea for YES from the Red Sox who went basic with NESN in 1999 Suddenly the Red Sox were making more TV money than the Yankees.

NESN is a nice little fifedom of 6 states (with the exception of Fairfield County in Conn) but it pales to the YES service area.

It is insane that YES gets subscriber fees in BUFFALO when you consider the Jays, Pirates, Indians and Tigers are closer to Western NY.

The Phillies on the other hand have a tiny footprint as with NY to the north and Baltimore to the south their cable area is tiny.

DSpivack
11-23-2009, 01:32 PM
I think George Steinbrenner was more ahead of his time with how he arranged the TV deal for the NYY.

That deal is set up in such a way that customers in other states pay a few dollars each month for Yankee games, and they may not even watch them. I don't think any other team has anything close to that kind of set up, except maybe ATL with TBS.

The Braves haven't been on TBS for a few years now.

ewokpelts
11-23-2009, 01:33 PM
maybe this is why mlb is testing online packages for local teams(yanks and padres)

Paulwny
11-23-2009, 02:58 PM
It is insane that YES gets subscriber fees in BUFFALO when you consider the Jays, Pirates, Indians and Tigers are closer to Western NY.


WNY is Yankee country when it comes to mlb.
At the time Adelphia was the cable provider in Buffalo/WNY, they wanted the YES Net as a subscriber chanel which King George refused. Everybody gets YES or nobody gets Yes.
Yank fans in the area threatened to cancel cable service, Adelphia caved.

FielderJones
11-23-2009, 11:15 PM
The concept of 'a-la-carte' pricing isn't new (Canada has had it for years) but the FCC can't order it unless Congress mandates it. It now appears that will happen.

There is no way to spin this. How can you continue to tell people they must pay for channels they never watch?

This development might actually make me a first-time cable customer. I've always said the only way I would ever get cable is if I can choose the stations. I hope this goes through.

soxinem1
11-24-2009, 01:41 PM
The Braves haven't been on TBS for a few years now.

What are they on then? I see them on all the time on DirecTV. I thought it was still TBS.

Even so, they have been part of a national television broadcast for decades.

Lip Man 1
11-24-2009, 02:45 PM
The Braves have their own channel on DirecTV in the sports tier, 600 and above channel numbers.

Lip

ewokpelts
11-24-2009, 02:46 PM
What are they on then? I see them on all the time on DirecTV. I thought it was still TBS.

Even so, they have been part of a national television broadcast for decades.

The Braves have their own channel on DirecTV in the sports tier, 600 and above channel numbers.

LipThey used to play on Turner South, but it was bought by FSN a few years ago....

DSpivack
11-24-2009, 02:47 PM
What are they on then? I see them on all the time on DirecTV. I thought it was still TBS.

Even so, they have been part of a national television broadcast for decades.

Right, I just mean they are no longer on a national broadcast.

Fenway
11-24-2009, 05:03 PM
Toronto cable has some good deals as well

https://www.rogers.com/web/link/ptvBrowsePackagesFlowBegin?forwardTo=landing


https://www.rogers.com/web/Rogers.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PTV_PROG_LANDING

Lip Man 1
11-25-2009, 11:09 AM
The Braves are on 646 or 651 on DirecTV.

Lip