In a signal that a deal may be finalized, DirecTV told the FCC Friday that the planned exclusive agreement with Major League Baseball for out-of-market games could result in "more baseball being available to more fans in a more compelling format."
Likening the deal to those DirecTV has with 'Sunday Ticket' and 'NASCAR Hotpass', the company told the FCC's media bureau that its 'Extra Innings' package would result in more content and features and that "no one would be denied access."
A letter was sent to FCC Media Bureau Chief Monica Shah Desai from DirecTV President Chase Carey. It was sent in response to a Feb. 20 letter from the FCC asking for information on the deal.
To access the programming, consumers will have to switch from the cable systems and competing satellite operators to DirecTV. "Consumers switching from cable to DirecTV will be provided with free equipment and free installation, " the company told the FCC.
DirecTV pointed out that it had competed with EchoStar and IN Demand for the package, and it was the only company to agree to terms acceptable to MLB. One of those terms was that DirecTV must carry MLB's Baseball Channel in the basic tier.
DirecTV outlined some of its plans for the package. It will include channels that would deliver cut-ins to games around the country, real-time scores and stats, and it would offer the most games in high definition--a move very few cable operators would be able to do.
Some in Congress, notably Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and Rep. Ed Markey (he gets the games of his beloved Boston Red Sox via Comcast's 'Extra Innings') had expressed concerns and made comments to the FCC about
In a letter, DirecTV said that "no baseball fans will be denied access to America's pastime" and said that all the baseball games would be available online at MLB.com. They also pointed out that any consumer can switch to DirecTV at no start-up cost, and that even the online watchers could use their TVs "if cable did not prohibit a direct connection between the Internet and the set-top box."
DirecTV said that only 230,000 non-DirecTV subscribers took the 'Extra Innings' package last year. "DirecTV's agreement with MLB to carry 'Extra Innings' is going to be a big win for consumers," the company said