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Find The Boots

Rantings from a few corporate types about life, technology, travel, guns, politics, and everything good in the world.

MLB Doesn't Get It Either

Friday, June 01, 2007

Major League Baseball has created quite a stir by saying that Slingbox owners who stream home games while traveling are breaking the law because it allows consumers to circumvent geographical boundaries written in to broadcast deals. This story has been covered by Slashdot, where the geeks basically degenerated into a discussion of why baseball isn't fun to watch.

Obviously, the folks at Sling Media disagree:
As always, Sling Media CEO Blake Krikorian is siding with consumers. "Maybe they should be paying us," he told Sports Business Journal. "Seriously. I'm still failing to see how we're hurting them or their brand. We're allowing more people to see more baseball, with all the same commercials, and stay connected to their teams. How is that bad? It's additive to what they're doing. They've paid for our device and they've paid their cable bill."
I'm really restraining myself by not going on a rant about how Old Media just doesn't get it. MLB is fighting a technology that will overwhelm them. They can either take advantage of the new media, or they can just fade into obscurity.

I think Krikorian missed the analysis -- it's not whether Slingbox will hurt MLB's brand, it's why in the world would MLB want to limit the opportunities of its fans to view its products? Are they so delusional that they think people will avoid going to the ballpark because the games are available on TV?

I'd love to hear a lawyer chime in on this. While the copyright notice that limits the viewer to personal use is clearly enforceable, the extra contractual limitations on geography and manner of viewing seem like a shrink-wrap agreement. The contract is between the TV stations and MLB -- I never signed anything that consented to it. And if they've broadcasted it over the public airwaves, then don't I have a right to view it in any manner that I can pick it up?

Earth to MLB: You don't have a captive market like you did 20 years ago. There are tons of possibilities for entertainment available to consumers. The drop off in attendance isn't because you you're losing to upstart technologies, it's because the fans think your players are on steroids, the traffic and parking for most major league ballparks is an ordeal, a hot dog and a beer costs $15, and there's less action in 3 hours of baseball than the first 30 seconds of a hockey game.

Fighting technology is a losing strategy. Adapt or become irrelevant.


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