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The Almighty Buck

Baseball Fans Must Pay To Listen Online 319

blair1q writes: "The AP is reporting that MLB and RealNetworks have formed a cartel to embargo broadcasts of baseball games, charging listeners $9.99 for the season. No word on whether they will continue to broadcast the commercials along with the games. No word on whether you will be forced to pay $29.95 for a registered copy of RealNetworks' software. No word on whether RealNetworks will improve the quality and reliability, or MLB will guarantee availability of the feeds, or you can move from machine to machine with your access intact. The words 'suck' and 'criminal' want to appear here in the worst way." Especially after team owners extort taxpayers to help build their stadiums. Of course, pay-per-view events aren't new, but pay-per-listen sports broadcasting? Webcams, laptops and Ricochet (in participating cities) seem appropriate.
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Baseball Fans Must Pay To Listen Online

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  • by pmbuko ( 162438 ) <pmbuko@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @02:29PM (#335747) Homepage
    Do you at least get a baseball cap or bat with your purchase?
  • Please. MLB wants to make money off a valuble franchise and Real has a stock price in the single digits. Get over it, everyone needs to get paid.
  • Hockey is free to listen too, listen to it instead.

  • It's easy to avoid problems with this new cartel: avoid watching major league baseball. Go watch (and support!) smaller, local teams. Hell, beer tastes better there anyway!

  • How many people actually listen to MLB over internet feeds anyway. Just turn on the radio.
  • This time, it's the listeners instead of the players. Honestly, haven't all the online broadcasters learned that people don't like to pay for things they used to get for free?

    Tell me what makes you so afraid
    Of all those people you say you hate

  • Major League Baseball was granted an exemption from antitrust laws by congress.
  • by EvlPenguin ( 168738 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @02:32PM (#335756) Homepage
    ...called a radio. It's really cool. You can listen to sports broadcasts on the go, or sit back and listen to some tunes! You can even be intellectually stimulated by some talk radio! Think of the possibilities!
  • by Moonwick ( 6444 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @02:32PM (#335757) Homepage
    I'm usually in the minority on things like this, but I think it's pretty irresponsible to assume the worst about something like this.

    Sports broadcasts are usually paid for by radio stations which then recoup the expense through ad sales. Assuming the $9.95/season gives you the rights to listen to every game, sans-ads, how is this "unethical", "criminal" or "immoral"?

    Why is the slashdot community so vehemently opposed to companies making money through honest means? This stuff costs money. Deal with it.
  • This is commercialism. That's the way it is. Pay to hear or don't pay and don't hear.

    This is supposed to be surprising to someone?

    Cav Pilot's Reference Page []
  • by JesseL ( 107722 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @02:34PM (#335760) Homepage Journal

    No, but it does include the audio-only swimsuit edition.

  • by shren ( 134692 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @02:36PM (#335765) Homepage Journal

    Don't like it, don't buy it. That simple. Or are you implying that this service is evil and we should crush it under a torrent of flamebait posts, which won't weigh on real networks any heavier than a slightly uncomfortable hat?

    If something's broadcasted over the net, someone has to pay for it, and it's surely not going to be them. They are trying to make money offering streaming, a unpopular thing at slashdot but a necessary thing none the less.

  • Hmm, that little blurb had less info than the slashdot intro, even. This doesn't make clear whether the fee is supposed to apply to fans directly, or rebroadcasters like radio stations. Since the fee is so low, I'm guessing it's supposed to be the fans paying. Which leaves unanswered the question about radio stations which broadcast online: do they have to black out the games, or pay more, or what?
  • please tell me what station in portland, oregon broadcasts the oakland a's games and you have a point. until then you are just being silly.
  • by SquadBoy ( 167263 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @02:38PM (#335769) Homepage Journal
    here [] you will see that this does in fact require the "Gold Pass" service. And that yes [] you do in fact have to have the non-free player to use the gold pass service.
  • by anomaly ( 15035 ) <> on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @02:40PM (#335774)
    I'm not a big MLB fan, so I'm probably less concerned about this than I would be if it was a different issue, but let's be realistic.

    This is entertainment, and people will pay a large amount of money for entertainment. MLB is in business to make money while entertaining.

    If people want MLB coverage, and it's offered for a fee, then they can pay the fee or not get the entertainment.

    In many ways this is analagous to cable carrying local TV stations. "Why would I pay for what I can get for free?"

    Because picture quality and signal strength are much better, that's why. Don't like it? Get out the rabbit ears.

    So, WRT MLB for a fee...Don't want to pay? Find free entertainment.

    Free MLB is not a right guaranteed by the constitution. Deal with it.


    PS - God loves you and longs for relationship with you.

    If you would like to know more about this, please email me at tom_cooper at bigfoot dot com.
  • by Tower ( 37395 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @02:41PM (#335775)
    Yeah, I'm a Yankees fan transplanted in Minnesota - If I could pay $10 for a season of games, I'd love it - with this hopefully the coverage will be better, since not all the games were net broadcast last year. I just hope there would be some type of QoS agreement - audio for a game is pretty low bandwidth (and great for daytime (worktime) games), but if you get into the video feeds, there needs to be some minimal quality, or it isn't worth it (baseball is a great game to listen to on radio, if the announcers are worth their salt).

    $10... that's just over $0.06/game if you listen to all of your favorite team's games... not too shabby... for those that listen to even more, a real bonus.
  • They'll probably do the same with Microsoft, what with the Bush administration's leanings.

  • Oh no! they want to charge for a service! run away!

    the new york times quite clearly says you get the Plus version of realplayer FREE with your freaknig 10$/YEAR payment. this isn't much to ask for a great service.
  • by myc ( 105406 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @02:46PM (#335785)
    look at it this way, it's probably aimed primarily at people who are located outside of the broadcast area of the team they are interested in, e.g., NY Yankee fans living in California. Satellite TV season sports packages easily cost upwards of 100 dollars per season, if not more. People living within the broadcast market will just watch Tv/listen to the radio. Even if I were on a business trip and wanted to catch the action of the latest home team's game, 9 bucks is quite reasonable even for a one time fee, heck that's about how much it costs for a couple of pr0n flicks in a hotel pay-per-view. As far as commercials go, in baseball it's not even an issue considering they have commercial breaks anyway between innings. It's a pity it won't be free anymore but servers and bandwidth cost money. I think 9 bucks is a pretty reasonable price.
  • I can see it now:

    FBI officials have arrested Paul "Paulie Packets" Pastarelli for running one of the biggest internet packet bookie rings in history.

    The FBI alleges Paulie Packets took bets on networking information from listeners of Internet sports sites with an ingenious plot to make money.

    Taking bets on dropped packets, fragmented packets, DF bits set on a packet, Paulie Packets earned himself a spot on Americas Most Wanted for being such a dangerous criminal.

    Officials at the FBI arrested the 12 year old after he hacked into everything you can think of in order to pull of the crime of the century, and investigators are concerned that Paulie's actions may be rubbing off on his junior high school classmates.

    more to come ... []
  • I love baseball, and one of the greatest things the internet has done is let me listen to the cardinals home broadcast's. For $10 a year I'll be happy to pay. 4 years ago I couldn't listen to games at all and had to settle for reloading box scores.

    This is a service that is worth it, that I have no other way of getting. Baseball is under no obligation to give away radio broadcasts. If they want to force people to pay for them then so be it.

  • I just wrote the sports director at WGN, to see what his reaction to this is, if he's just finding out about it, the lawsuits may fly when local stations react to this.


  • What we used to do was tune in the radio to listen to the good play-by-play, while simultaneously watching the tv with the sound turned off, so we didn't have to listen to the clueless tv guys (who were usually biased for the other side anyway).

    Ok, so it's not "computerized," but does everything have to be? Uh, oh. I'm gonna get SO flamed for saying that...

    BTW...Anyone know if Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth still announce the Blue Jays games on radio? If you know the answer, you know where to find me.

  • But the point against this cartel is that if you have a "local" station broadcasting over the internet, the station is also broadcasting the adds, and paying MLB for it already. RealNetworks should never have gotten involved -- this should have been directly between MLB and the "Radio Network" that organizes the broadcast of the games through local stations.

    E.g., but out of date: WTOP (D.C.) used to broadcast Orioles games (they don't anymore because it kept getting in the way of traffic reports that listeners REALLY wanted), but while they did, they also did over their feed on the internet. The feed on the 'net still gets commercials. In fact, WTOP was able to raise their rates by showing the number of internet listeners. From that improved rating, WTOP has a standard rate that they would pay to the Orioles network (modified by the fact that the rating affects direct sponsors like Eskay hot dogs that go through the network), which in turn paid the Orioles a cut and the rest to MLB to give to the other teams involved in games against the O's.

    NOW, what MLB wants is an additional $10.00 per listener per season, ON TOP OF THE FACT that the rates MLB gets paid by the stations ALREADY REFLECTS internet listeners.

    That is somthing that doth royally suck the big one...MLB is going to Real for a sense of exclusivity (thinking they might get more) and bypassing the radio stations -- what it does is send more money directly to MLB, at the expense of the local radio stations (that lose that added rating share for internet broadcasting games), and more importantly at the expense of the individual teams that have stronger radio listenerships -- MLB would distribute an even cut of the money to each team, even though some teams like the O's have stronger radio audiences than others (by virtue of being close to 2 major and 4 minor cities within radio-range). Broadcasts through Real would likely go through exclusivities -- local stations that broadcast would be forced to blackout their internet broadcasting during a game, and that would cut into their overall internet listenership, since the reliability of the internet distribution would be shaken in the view of their listeners.

  • OK, so I can no longer go to [] and click Listen to hear a game for free, but what about this? I can listen to WSB in Atlanta any time, and they carry the Braves games, so can I listen to it that way or do we think that WSB will be prohibited from webcasting it? I know that used to be the case with Rush Limbaugh's radio show. You could listen to WGST 24 hours a day, except when Rush was on, at which time you got a recording saying that they couldn't webcast it.

    I don't agree that "criminal" should have appeared in this story, but I do agree with the word "suck". It's not a terribly high price, but probably higher than I would be willing to pay for crappy, unreliable feed. I would rather have some assurance of an improved quality.

  • by alkali ( 28338 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @02:53PM (#335800)
    Not quite. In 1922, the Supreme Court held [] that insofar as the federal antitrust laws apply only to interstate commerce, baseball is beyond the reach of those laws, because a baseball game is played in only one state at a time. (If you think this is peculiar reasoning, you are not alone. Legal scholars generally agree that this is one of the worst opinions Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. ever wrote, the other major contender being a case in which a woman was permitted to be sterilized [] because she had a low IQ.)

    Congress has "granted" baseball an exemption insofar as it has not corrected the Supreme Court's decision, a decision which subsequent Supreme Court cases have treated as binding though they have more or less acknowledged that the original decision was wrong.

  • I guess that I have mixed feelings about this. Conrary to the implication of the article, it sounds as though part of the deal is that this is a move to centralize broadcast by MLB specifically so that they _can_ guarantee availability of feeds. Honestly $10 per season isn't that much to a true baseball junkie, considering that I already spend something like $50 a year on various baseball reference books and the like- and I'm nowhere near the worst in that department. $10 is OK, that is, provided that it guarantees access to any game I want on any computer I want to listen to it from.

    I just have a terrible feeling that eliminating ads from the mix just isn't going to be part of the deal. That's particularly true because of the insidious way in which announcers will toss in a short advertizement between pitches, but I have a feeling that this is also going to be a pioneer in targeted advertizing. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that they're going to replace the radio ads with special internet ones, and possibly even target them specifically for particular listeners. You're already going to have to provide authentication just to get the feed, so targeted advertizing (and demographic profiling) is going to be part of the story.


    If it is a bad product, don't buy it. If you don't buy it, then they will have to improve their product if they want to increase sales.

    Honestly, some fucking people need to get a clue about living in a free market economy. Sure, it'd be nice if MLB broadcast all the games commercial free in an open patent-unencumbered format, but then they'd lose a ton of money. Great idea! Really, if i were in MLB's marketing department, I'd sure be looking to do some kind of loss-leader campaign like that because, well hell, we need to keep our fans loyal before they start watching some other country's professional baseball!!!!!

  • I really hate it when people make statements like this. No one is going to buy a computer system just to listen to MLB

    Like hell they won't. You have obviosly never been exposed to the evils of retail computer sales.

    "I want a computer. I need to Internet." or "I want to use online banking" or "I want to watch TV on my computer."

    All real phrases uttered by hapless fish driven to a marketing frenzy by gong-pounding blue men.
  • Beer does not taste better no matter where you go in the United States. :)
  • anytime soon, pay-per-breathe!!
  • Don't dis real - their server and codec technology rock in comparison to wmp or my open source efforts. Sure - they're expensive, if you want a free server then Icecast + Vorbis/Mp3 is fine for radio. We've not got decent video yet but we're working on it. Real's speed sensing technology is usperioir to MS's, and no Open source porject has worked on this much.

    Where real sucks is the client, it just does nasty things and keeps breaking stuff.

    I'll have real over MS any day.
  • As a transplant out of Wisconsin to the Bay Area, I can't listen to or watch my favorite football team without:

    1. Paying an ungodly sum for satellite TV, then another ungodly sum for Season Ticket,
    2. Flying to Green Bay for all of the games, or
    3. Getting my dad to tape the games and send them to me, which loses something despite getting to fast-forward the commercials.

    Of course, I can also wait for them to play the Niners once every few years, or to play on Monday night. Still, that's pretty lousy. So hey, I'd pay $10 a year to hear all the games.


  • In Canada, I'm told, there's laws allowing anyone to rebroadcast a radio/TV signal, unmodified. iCraveTV was fighting on those grounds, but lost due to lawyer prices and the fact their rebroadcast included extra advertising.

    Would it be illegal to rebroadcast over the internet a non-modified radio stream from a local radio station that has the game on for free? I wonder...

  • Companies such as Real are hurting, and unless they start striking deals such as this.. we are not going to have companies such as Real left.

    Get used to this trend, the free ride is over.

    Would you like a Python based alternative to PHP/ASP/JSP?
  • For a few happy years there, the 'net was the best the to happen to sports fans, when many teams, both college and pro, began to broadcast their games for free on the Internet. No longer did you have to be in a team's broadcast area to follow a that team. From my home in Texas, I listened to broadcasts of Atlanta Braves baseball and Auburn (my alma mater) football. I could even listen in on interesting games in other regions, like I did when McGwire and Sosa were chasing Maris two or three seasons ago.

  • by sulli ( 195030 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @03:13PM (#335830) Journal
    I agree. MLB sells the rights to baseball games to broadcasters, who either telecast for pay (on cable) or for free (on the air). So they have come up with a way to offer internet rights to another "network" (Real).

    Sounds perfectly normal to me!

  • Streaming is only cheap to offer for free while streaming is a fringe market. If the whole of the baseball fanbase was to switch over to streaming they'd bankrupt the radio stations with bandwidth bills. Bringing in new fans is great and all but it doesn't pay the bills.

  • Speed that bandwidth, or throughput? Throughput is the only thing that matters, and has as much to do with the client implementation as the speed of your connection.
  • Why not just set up an AM radio, hook it into a sound card, and run a Shoutcast or RealAudio feed of the game? This could quickly become the next Napster, in terms of "Copyright Infringement".

    - A.P.

    * CmdrTaco is an idiot.

  • I dunno, I think you're painting a bleaker picture than needed. A lot of commercials on AM sports radio is for local businesses, and listeners of internet radio are probably mostly people who are outside the normal broadcast area.I don't think there would be much effect in terms of the local radio stations.
  • Radio is probably more expensive than streaming, in the long run. Bandwidth is getting so cheap that pretty soon it won't be economical to pay for a spectrum license (both in dollars and FCC hassel) and the tower, broadcast equipment, etc. Just have your server farm and a few big pipes. My big problem is that they got rid of all the individual team web sites and replaced them with an ugly template for every team. Presumably blockading individual teams from streaming the games if they choose is all part of the plan to bring the teams completely within the MLB brand. Sheesh.

  • by sulli ( 195030 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @03:31PM (#335846) Journal
    Coming soon, to inspire your anger and fury:

    - Restaurants Charge For Food, Require Additional Charge for Coffee and Alcoholic Beverages

    - Money-Grubbing ISPs Charge More for High-Bandwidth Lines, Even Though They're Used for Napster, Gnutella, and Freenet

    - ThinkGeek Charges Hundreds for MP3 Players, which are Critical to Your Rights Online

    I know, it's shocking. But it's true!

  • [Whoops - hit "submit" instead of "preview"]

    Many of the Braves games were available on the "Superstation" WTBS, which I get as part of my cable service, but TBS doesn't carry as many of the games as does the radio broadcast (which has nearly 100% of a season's games). Furthermore, I didn't have to be near a TV to listen, which means I could listen at work to the day games. Best of all, during playoffs, I could listen to the Brave's play-by-play instead of having to listen to those network blabbermouths.

    But last year things began to change. Atlanta's baseball games were no longer broadcast on the Internet out of the web site of WSB, the home station of the radio program. Instead, I had to listen by going through I really hated this because they only carried the broadcast of the home team, so when Atlanta played on the road, I had to listen to the "other guy's" announcers, even though I would much rather hear Skip Carey and Company.

    Now, it sounds like things are going to get still worse if I have to pay both MLB for the broadcast and Real for the Gold Pass player. I'd just as soon go back to watching what games I can on the TV.

    But it doesn't have to be this way. Why not treat the Internet broadcast as just another affiliate station? Insert advertisements targeted to an Internet audience. The technology already exists to do this -- it's in every radio station in their system. It's the way affiliate stations insert their own local advertisements into the broadcast. Or go one step further, and treat the Internet as a kind of super-affiliate that replaces all the advertisements (not just those designated "local").

    Get paying customers -- it shouldn't be that hard. You've got a regional broadcast going to a worldwide audience. You should be able to sell ads to the local tourist and convention industry: concert promoters, sporting event promoters, travel agencies, the local Visitors/Tourist Bureau, and the like. Likewise you can sell to the local chamber of commerce, which is always trying to attract business to town. Sell ads to local headhunters -- they're always trying to attract talent to town.

    If that doesn't sell enough ads, go to mass-market advertisers who have national campaigns: Budweiser, Chevy, Nike, etc., etc., etc. Surely you can sell enough ad time to more than make up for the cost of running the server.

    Unless, of course, MLB and Real are offering a buttload more. Well, here's hoping their plan fails, and in a few years the local sports clubs and broadcast stations can revert to a revenue model that both makes sense, and is fan-friendly. Cause this one is neither.

  • This looks like a proof of concept at the moment, rather than an attempt to make real money. If even 1 million subscribers cough up for each of the three years, that's still only $30 million. Remind me what the average player's salary is? Cynics may say that it's priced so cheap (and $10/annum *is* cheap) because they already know the service will be crap and punters won't fork over big bucks for crappy audio and the promise of some video highlights. I prefer to believe that there is a desire to build up an audience for this service over three years, by which time the tech will enable it to be an even more comprehensive service. Then you can expect to pay $10 / week.

    I also found this intriguing:

    In addition, RealNetworks and MLBAM plan to offer subscribers the ability to search for and create customizable video highlights of daily game coverage--providing a flexible way for baseball fans and fantasy-league enthusiasts to compile and review footage of their favorite teams and players on a daily basis. By providing archival access to every pitch from every game, this personalized video service will let individual subscribers choose the exact game highlights they want to watch.

    Is this a tacit recognition of traditional "fair use" rights? Will MLBAM chase down fan/fantasy websites that use excerpts from the paid-for service?

  • Under the agreement, stations which normally offer live feeds of their broadcasts will not be allowed to stream during baseball games. I checked, which used to stream its Yankees broadcasts, and they have an article up which explains the details of the deal. You're going to be forced to pay MLB if you want to listen to the games online.

    Sucks, doesn't it?

    * CmdrTaco is an idiot.

  • by cybercuzco ( 100904 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @03:38PM (#335857) Homepage Journal
    Yup, I remember recently i was trying to listen to the Maryland-Duke game, and I tried for an hour or so installing software, searching for a web broadcast. Eventually i foudn a local station rebroadcasing using realplayer and when i downloaded the feed it said "this broadcast has been remved at the request of the rights holder". I was bummed for awhile, but then i realized that I HAD A RADIO! so i just tuned in, took 30 seconds, no software liscences, no installs, no stupid copy control. If this technology were new, people would be slobbering over it. Sometimes the old solution is the best.

  • This makes no sense. Neither does the reply. The article does not say they will stream them without ads. If they did, this post would make sense.

    1) Why would anyone pay for an internet broadcast when radio is free?
    2) Why does the radio station know/care if I use a registered version of real-audio?
  • MLB would distribute an even cut of the money to each team, even though some teams like the O's have stronger radio audiences than others

    One could argue that that's a good thing, as teams with large radio audiences would seem to be teams with large local support, and thus far more money than smaller teams anyway. (ie. New York)
    Assume that there are valid arguments against your position.

  • ...wait 'til you hear this: NESN (New England Sports Network), a premium cable channel owned jointly by the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins, is about to become standard on all cable packages in New England, including basic cable. Also, cable rates in New England are going up again by about $10; my family is already paying $60 per month for analog cable.

    Are these two announcements a coincidence? I say that they aren't. Essentially, the Red Sox and the Bruins are charging all the cable subscribers a $10 per month fee, which means that $120 per year per cable subscriber goes directly to the two teams. To make matters worse, the Bruins haven't won a Stanley Cup in 30 years, and the Red Sox haven't won a World Series in over 80 years. And neither team looks promising for the future (the Bruins just might get into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth, but probably won't hold up so well if they do get a playoff spot; the Red Sox won't be seeing Nomar Garciaparra on the field for at least three months due to an aggravated wrist injury). In my opinion, all of the New England cable subscribers have become the victims of two evil organisations that never deliver on their promises.

  • Currently I use to listen to the Real Audio broadcasts of out of town hockey games. (Free) Radio is an advertising model, right? So why wouldn't they want as many people as possible listening? I had hoped eventually I would be able to watch out of town hockey in streaming video free, now it looks like I may lose radio! Previously I've toyed with the idea of having someone where the game is broadcast hook up the cable to a TV in card and broadcast it to (just me) using real video so I could watch. Anyone tried that?
  • Basically we're at the point now where web sports broadcasts are like meatspace sports broadcasts. In meatspace, if you want the broadcasts for your home team, you can more or less do it on local radio or local television for free. If you want to watch out-of-town games, you pay for cable or satellite access so you can watch games on ESPN or DirecTV or whatever. I mean, come on... (as other posters have noted) if you only want to hear your home team's games... why are you getting it over the web anyway? Just turn on the radio. :)

    You have to remember how this works from a business perspective. No matter how many people listen to a radio broadcast, it costs the station the same amount of money to broadcast it. That's NOT the case with a RealAudio broadcast because each user consumes additional bandwidth and additional CPU time on the broadcaster's side!

    Still, it would be nice if we could get to the point where online advertisers and businesses could have deals where the advertisers basically pay per online viewer... that way hopefully as the amount of users increases, the amount of ad revenue would increase at the same rate as the bandwidth/cpu costs and then maybe online broadcasts could be free again? I think the only thing holding this back as cluelessness/skittishness on the part of the advertisers.... []
  • This is just annoying. No, I'm not suggesting what they are doing is unethical or illegal. MLB definitely has the right to license its broadcasts to whoever it chooses.

    I work in an office building and radio reception on my walkman is pretty shitty. I remember last year when the Mariners were making a playoff run, we'd tune in to which had all the Mariners game broadcasts online and follow the game that way. This was great for the radio station because they just got more listeners than they could cover otherwise - all listening to the same commercials, etc.

    I'm guessing I won't be able to do that anymore. My interest in MLB is guaranteed to suffer as a result. I'm really not sure what MLB is getting out of this deal - they are offering $10 in gift certificates to make up for the cost of buying the broadcast. I might even have considered this if Realaudio wasn't such a piece of crap software.
  • > So, WRT MLB for a fee...Don't want to pay? Find free entertainment.

    This is, IMO, why we keep finding ourselves paying more and getting less. We seem to have a gene that vetos us whenever we ought to say "no" to some new scam^w scheme that worsens our position as a consumer.

    Consumers have enormous power over producers, but very rarely use it in the most basic self-interested manner. Oddly, rabble rousers can whip us up into a boycotting frenzy when there's not really anything at stake (e.g., getting the 13 stars off the Arm & Hammer logo), but we very rarely exercise it from the grassroots up on saner issues.

    I suppose lots of /.ers are "just saying no" to commercial software, but look at how many turn around and buy DVDs.

  • The posts make perfect sense.

    1) People might want to listen to games that aren't broadcasted locally. I live in Scotland (I'm American). Oddly enough, there aren't any locally broadcast MLB games. Now cricket is another matter. But, even in the States, many people live in a location different than "their" baseball team.

    2) The article makes no mention of whether or not they will require a registered version of real-audio. Your comment is a non-sequitor that is likely caused by blair1q's non-sequitor in the slashdot post.

    Besides, is $9.99 really that much money? I mean, there are 162 games per team per year. There's no mention whether that fee will cover all teams or just one team, but in either case, this is not a lot of money for a baseball enthusiast. And, if you don't like paying, you can still listen for free on your existing radio.
  • Because, as Bart Simpson elucidated for us all, Major League Baseball is spying on us all, and they will track the pirates down and kill them!
  • Sorry for the poor english. Shoulda hit "preview". But I meant to say "...there aren't any local broadcasts of MLB games.", and, "...many people live in locations different than their baseball teams".

    And sorry for being pedantic. I would prefer that the quality of English for slashdot posts improve, and I've got to start at home. I'll preview next time...
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @04:23PM (#335901)
    > Not quite. In 1922, the Supreme Court held that insofar as the federal antitrust laws apply only to interstate commerce, baseball is beyond the reach of those laws, because a baseball game is played in only one state at a time.
    REUTERS, May 18, 2039.

    A constitutional crises is brewing after yesterday's game in the new Texarkana Civic Stadium, after slugger Binko Rutherford hit a homer that not only went over the fence, but also across the state line. The Supreme Court is meeting in an emergency session to reconsider the merits of its 1922 ruling on the status of baseball vis-a-vis federal anti-trust laws.

    The stakes in this decision are unusually high, as the team owners are threatening to secede from the union if their traditional priviledged status is reversed.

  • Oddly enough, there aren't any locally broadcast MLB games. Now cricket is another matter.

    Just like I'd bet there'd be a fairly decent market for streamed cricket broadcasts for expats from cricket-playing nations living in the US. I'm amazed no-one's tried it, frankly.

  • Why would anyone pay for an internet broadcast when radio is free?

    Because my favorite team is on the other coast. Was great when it was free, but it's probably not going to be worth the hassle if it's a pay thing, even at a cheap price.

    Why does the radio station know/care if I use a registered version of real-audio?

    The radio stations are the losers here. Previously, they had paid for the broadcast rights, and had gotten a wider audience by sending the stuff out over the 'net. Now, MLB is saying, hey... that's not part of what you paid for.

    From the looks of it, what happened here is that Real paid for broadcast rights that used to be part of the radio stations' deals. MLB said sure, we'll take your money. Real probably figures they'll recoup the costs by selling subscriptions and/or software.

    I expect the radio stations to complain.
  • Here in Arizona I've been watching with some amusement (though mostly annoyance) how sports broadcasts are distributed.

    In the Fall, they will not broadcast the local football team locally, or on cable. Your only option to view the game is in person, at a sports bar, or using the Sunday Ticket on the sat. These are the options for me to view a game that is being played less then a mile from my apartment. I can, however, listen to the game live on the net, or watch games from other parts of the country on TV. (But somehow it looses something when I can hear fireworks outside my window and then wait 45 seconds or so to find out what happened on the net broadcast).

    Now that it's basketball season, I can watch most away games on broadcast TV, but can only see home games if I subsribe to cable (home games are shown on a special Cox channel). Any other broadcast is blocked out, meaning if I have Sat and they are showing the game on TNT, TNT will be blocked for three hours. It costs money to hear it on the net.

    The result: more often then not, I find my self chatting with people from other states to find out how my home town teams are doing. Somehow I'm missing the logic of pro-sports marketers here.

  • Why would bringing in new streaming listeners increase the broadcast station listeners? Most of them probably arn't within the broadcast range. Even if it did, is the increase in advertising revenue going to justify the bandwidth expense?

  • In another sport, on the other side of the planet.. called Australian Rules Football. 3 years ago, radio stations down there (MMM [], 3AW, and I believe JJJ []) gave us int'l fans who couldn't afford to fly down there every week to watch a game, or turn on the TV, live RealAudio feeds of the game, including Ch. 7 (TV station) giving a live feed of the Grand Final. That was when the AFL [] found out "wow... there's money to be made in internet broadcasts!" So they started to offer it at a subscription price, and for AFL members only. Members and fans alike complained, and I believe they suffered a drop in membership, and are involved in a battle for Internet and broadcast rights, with the football clubs. clubs claim it's their property, since they're doing the playing, AFL believe it's theirs for it being their league.

    This is still going on with the clubs and the AFL, but with MLB, it could get worse. Who will have the rights to the coverage? Remains to be seen.

  • MLB needs to justify the time and equipment to air those games and just knowing some fans are listening isn't going to do it. $30 isn't that much for 162 games if your a baseball fan and take pleasure in listening to your favorite team.

    I like the Yankees[1]. WABC 770 AM in NYC is the official broadcast station of the NY Yankees. They always broadcast over the internet in RealAudio, whether there's a game going on or not. There is no added cost to MLB or RealNetworks in this case. WABC pays to broadcast the games, so MLB get's paid, they paid for their RealServer so RealNetworks gets paid. WABC makes their money through advertising so they make back their investment. Why the hell should I have to pay MLB/RealAudio again?

    Let me guess, they're "innovating."

    It's bad enough that you need an EE degree to download and install the RealPlayer without all the valuable advertising and privacy infringing "features." I remember when RealNetworks were the good guys...

    [1] yes I know, it's like rooting for Microsoft

  • I think $9 is fine on its own... I just wish that you didn't have to buy something ELSE from RealPlayer too (their GoldClub or whatever they call it... basically you're buying more shitty content from a shitty company with a shitty media player)... so it's gonna be more than $9, and you're gonna be buying something you DON'T really want beyond that $9. If they offered a Windows Media Player version for $13, I'd do it...
  • you need to stop watching ESPN too. And any broadcasts. The increasing bidding wars for the rights to broadcast is the bigger factor in player salaries (because they see how big the pie is). This won't change because while certain media choices (drama, comedy, news) are being spread out among a number of sources, sports broadcasts are special since they create their own events. They will always have a good core audience no matter how many other channels of crap are on out there.
  • This is where you take a page from the Canadian's play book, and register your DirecTV receiver in a state that doesn't have any interesting major league teams.

    If your satellite provider believes you live in Alaska, they will not blackout any Arizona games...

  • Except that MLB took over ALL of the web sites for baseball teams and if a team wished to broadcast its feed over the net, they no longer can.
  • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @05:52PM (#335952)
    All MLB Baseball games should be Free

    Groups of independent fans could build their own stadiums whereever they please, so long as everyone is able to sit there at no charge.

    You could have your own MLB games anytime, as long as you made the players available to everyone!
  • by RafeDawg ( 138303 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @05:54PM (#335954)
    A lot of people seem to be jumping to conclusions about how this will work. An interview [] with the president of clarifies some details that are rather vague in the various press releases. Important points are that there will be ads, and that the video highlight package is separate from the radio broadcast. Also, the local sportscasters will be retained, and local radio station webcasts will be "phased out," meaning that you can still listen for free for a while.

    Basically, you're paying 10 bucks to have every game be available in english, spanish, and french with either the home or visiting broadcaster. In many cases, these options were available before. I don't think its worth it, but as a Yankee fan in Ohio I don't have much of a choice and I'll pay it.

    The video highlight service they describe is completely different. It sounds as though that is what you need GoldPass (and therefore non-free RealPlayer) for. Also, it won't even launch until May and promises to give you access to every pitch of every game throughout the season. That seems like a pretty powerful tool, although when it comes through RealPooper software who knows what it will be like.

  • by veepornot ( 412532 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @06:01PM (#335957)
    Actually, you can either order Gold Pass from Real, or you can pay $10 to and use the free RealPlayer (which is what we Linux users need to do).

    In addition, you get $10 off at's online store, which is a cute way to attract shoppers.

    All in all, 10 dollars a year for streaming baseball games is a good deal for any but the most casual fan of realaudio games. It's not like they went with Windows Media, so count your blessings.

  • I think this is an incredibly short sighted move on the part of MLB - but, hey, it's not like these buffoons are blessed with intelligence to match their riches ... I can't see this being a successful venture, other than a small contingency of losers who are even bigger morons than Baseball's Lords of the Realm ... meantime, you shut the young kids out that already are flocking as far away from as a baseball diamond ...

    I think the "new economy" is eventually going to humble the present-day professional sport franchise realm ... licenses and IP rights go only so far - I mean it was nice when the video game Madden 93 was the craze but the only way you could tell it was Walter Payton running with the rock was the #34 graphic showing above his pixelated image ... now, we have authentic simulation creations that don't necessarily need the pro league license, only the ability for you to add a #34 and custom name ...

    I have a dish and I subscribe to the hockey and football deals but I won't be renewing those next season ... Why? - well, for a number of reasons - the yearly subscription price is indeed reasonable (little over $100) but a number of things really bug me - [1] I pay for the games but I don't get my favorite team announcers and I don't understand why that can't be provided - they can sub in the same ad space they sell for the dish package deals - it wouldn't matter to me ... [2] I can't watch all the games at the same time - not being a smart-ass but I wish they would use the channel real estate that I donate my hard earned credits for replays and maybe put together some highlight reels (NFL really only one that does this and even theirs is a half-hearted endeaver - the NBA channel is merely a placeholder for ...) of present and past action, or for goodness sake, air some of them Don Cherry rock-em sock-em videos ... and [3] the state of sports on the dish in general - early dish days would get me all the sports channels from all across USA and each one had its own flavor and lots of minor league action was carried - now they've all been swallowed up by Fox Sports and the programming is all the same, and stuff like minor league hockey, college hockey, minor league baseball, roller hockey, etc. was dropped for the likes of Bob Ley, Keith Olberman - the regional sportscasts are a feeble attempt to restore the homebrewed flavor that has been painfully sterilized ...

    So, if I "jones" for some sports action, I guess I'll have to settle for the local teams or the ESPN game of the week ... if it's not available in the chosen recreational time slot, perhaps I'll live vicariously and engage in some sporting activity myself, or maybe I'll put the finishing touches on that massively multiplayer sports role playing game that everyone has been clamoring for ...

  • I really don't think it's the worst thing either, and compared to STRIKING THROUGH THE WORLD SERIES it isn't much of an inconvenience.

    If you didn't understand that baseball is All About Money Then - the only previous time a WS wasn't held was during WWII - and fans be damned because we are such loyal saps that they can do anything to them and we'll always come back, then you never will.

    BTW, don't you think this will fall flat on it's e-face? Does anybody have any figures on how the NBA revenue is faring?

  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2001 @06:18PM (#335964)
    I thought this was "News For Nerds"

    Since when are nerds and geeks into sports?

  • The NFL has a rule that, unless a game sells 60,000 tickets, that game cannot be shown live in that home market. The purpose of the rule is to prevent TV from cutting into the ticket revenue. In cases where tems are particularly crappy (such as Arizona), many games are blacked out because of poor attendance.

    I even believe that a few playoff games over the years have been blacked out.

  • Ironically, Baseball has one of the only exemptions from anti-trust law. It doesnt make it a cartel, but it definately makes it a monopoly with out legal control. In fact, during the last strike, one of the threats laid on MLB was the removal of its anti trust status. If there is another work stoppage, it might be time to pull the plug on it.
  • Cable has ads. Why shouldn't this?

  • There are approximately 1.5 billion people on the subcontinent for whom cricket is by far the most important spectator sport - not to mention a large fraction of the populations of England, Australia, and the other test-playing nations.

    The reason why your Indian buddies were glued to the cricket is because India played an incredbly exciting and close series of matches against Australia, and very narrowly won the deciding game of the series, after some of the most outstanding individual performances by several players in years (or in a couple of cases, ever).

  • "charging listeners $9.99 for the season."
    They have to pay for the bandwidth somehow.

    "No word on whether you will be forced to pay $29.95 for a registered copy of RealNetworks' software."

    Forced? Not likely. The last time I checked paying for RealPlayer was just as voluntary as listening to a baseball game on the radio.

    "The words 'suck' and 'criminal' want to appear here in the worst way."

    Of course they do. After all, the constitution demands a right to hear a baseball game for free, doesn't it?

    "Especially after team owners extort taxpayers to help build their stadiums."

    Extort? The taxpayers can let the teams go elsewhere. No town needs a baseball team, and taxpayers can always watch the game on TV for free.

    Seems to me that someone is testy over *shock* a for profit corporation attempting to make money! heaven forbid!
  • What do these cities really get out of having a major league sports team anyway? Do they actually bring in enough revenue to justify the public spending hundreds of millions of dollars on stadiums or arenas? I don't watch sports on TV and I only go to local games when I get free tickets. The metro area I'm unfortunately in seems to have some sort of inferiority complex when it comes to professional sports. The elected officials & top business leaders seem perfectly willing to prostitute themselves and volunteer tax dollars for the building of a sports facility, but balk at spending money on a court ordered new jail or improve the crappy schools. I guess we're in the bread & circuses phase: don't worry about society crumbling around you, just watch the bouncing ball......
  • $9.99 a season just isn't that much. Of course quality and bandwidth can't be guarenteed,that's the nature of the interenet. Of course they won't provide you with a free copy of a $30.00 program, since there's already a free version available. Tax payers money goes into building stadiums because it helps stimulate the local economy, especially if the team is doing good, but internet broadcasts do nothing to help the economies of anyone involved, until you factor in the $9.99 a YEAR charge...

    That's not much... If the interenet is affordable at $20 to $40 a month, if napster will be affordable at $9.95 a month, then certainly a seasons full of broadcasts at $9.99 a year isn't that bad. If you think so, just buy your self a set of FM headphones, and you'll recoup your investment in only 3 or 4 years....
  • Then again you might want to stick with the cloudy beer, unless of course your in the habit of tasting your own piss.

  • too right. though we'll forget about England v Sri Lanka.

    anyway, is a masterclass in how to do sport on the web - live, text commentaries..
  • What do these cities really get out of having a major league sports team anyway?
    A couple thousand minimum-wage jobs for beer vendors, parking attendants, and janitors, translating into bragging rights for local politicians (My administration created X new jobs; vote for me & keep sending the campaign contributions). Sales tax on tickets, food, & souvieniers. Liquor license fees. Real estate tax. Broadcast license fees. Kickbacks, bribes, and campaign contributions to local beaurocrats & politicians.

  • I would say maybe a few hundred...a couple thousand sounds like it's pushing it. Real estate taxes probably don't come into play since exclusions for not paying them are usually included in the sales pitch. I know what the politicians are getting out of it: bragging rights and kickbacks. I wanted to know what the cities get out of it besides having to pay higher taxes for sports complexes so some barely literate jocks can play ball while the owners rake in skybox loot (then gripe a few years down the road how crappy their facility is and demand the tax payers build a new one) I don't see how they make the city better..safer, more livable. IMHO, they just provide a distraction from the real things that need attention so they can get fixed.

  • I'm from Seattle, and last year taxpayer's paid hundreds of millions of dollars for a new baseball stadium, and I don't even like baseball, and now the owners have to audacity to get after fan site for re-broadcasting the stream. It kinda makes me sick.
  • "IMHO, they just provide a distraction from the real things that need attention so they can get fixed."

  • If this is just US$9.95 for the whole season, that's actually a pretty reasonable price.

    I mean, look at Rush Limbaugh's site--Rush has said that the US$39.95/year Rush 24/7 premium access program is selling like hotcakes.
  • but as a Yankee fan in Ohio I don't have much of a choice and I'll pay it.

    I'm sorry, I don't mean to flame, but I find this statement indicative of the mindset of a lot of my fellow Americans. I just have to say,


    You have a great deal of choice. We're talking about paying to hear someone talk about a bunch of grown men being payed to play a child's game. We're not talking about listening to a discussion on what politicians are doing to regulate our lives. We're not talking about listening to someone discuss how science and technology are changing how we live and work. We're talking about paying to hear someone talk about a bunch of grown men being payed to play a child's game.

    I doubt you meant your statement as I've interpreted it. I'm sure you realize that your life would go on tomorrow without MLB. But I run into so many people who think I'm from another planet because I don't give a shit about who won the 'World Series' (which only allows American teams?), or who is playing in the 'Final Four' (oh, how I really wish it were the final four so that everyone would shut the hell up about it!)

    People, these are grown men (or nearly so) playing games. They are not 'local' teams (how many of the players from the 'local' team are even from your state), and they will not let you play. What stake do you have in the outcome of any of the games?

    Stop appointing yourselves kings and rulers. Entertainers are not royalty, and do not deserve to live like it.

  • Makes me wonder if the radio stations are going to mind Realnetworks copying their broadcasts for profit. Or do the radio stations get a cut of the $20 million? The broadcasts aren't the exclusive property of MLB, they are jointly owned by the broadcaster and MLB.

    I have the same question. Perhaps MLB does have an agreement that allows them to use to use the broadcasts for mediums other than the live radio broadcast (like NFL Films has an agreement to use the radio broadcasts in its videos), but unless this is an agreement on paper, if I were a radio announcer, especially one as popular and well known to the fans as many of the players themselves (such as Harry Carey was), then I think you could have a lot of bargaining power to withhold your consent to use your voice for commercial gain without your consent.

    Anyway, no way is Real going to get close to pulling $20 million out of subscribers for thewir crappy service.
    From the article I read, it sounded like they will be adding a lot on-screen content to the broadcasts, however, unless the audio streams themselvs are available in 28.8k and 56k and ad breaks are filled with value-added content, I can't see paying for the games. At night you can get AM broadcasts from anywhere within 500 miles, which usually allows you to pull in at least one affiliate of your favorite team (or of the team they are playing that night), the broadcast quality isn't wonderful, but neither is the 8kbs streams that had been free last year.

  • Since when are nerds and geeks into sports? Well, here's [] one aspect of sports-geekdom...
  • ...and the Red Sox haven't won a World Series in over 80 years. And here's [] why...
  • Bandwidth isn't free, and i doubt that they make enough rebroadcasting ads to make up for it... Something needs to happen to enable it to pay for itself...

    I agree that the broadcaster deserves to be able to cover the added costs of internet broadcasting. However, in this case the broadcaster is WABC radio in NY. They're the ones who pay for the servers, they're the ones who pay the announcers etc. They give the Yankees a bunch of money to be allowed to broadcast. If they want to raise their ad rates, or yes, even charge listeners, it's their prerogative. Here we have RealNetworks and MLB demanding money for me to listen to WABC's broadcast. Everything was fine before they came along demanding money for nothing.

  • Carl Sagan was captain of a championship college basketball team.

    You don't get much nerdier than old Carl (may he rest in peace (and not return from the grave hungry for human brains)).

  • Now that the XFL is using Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco, maybe baseball can be phased out. Add some games to the XFL season (maybe let the cheerleaders play) and that should replace the baseball revenue.
  • Personally, I'd rather have people be proud of their community because it has good schools, a low amount of crime, clean, etc. In this case, the diversion helps people ignore problems that need fixing. Having a new stadium doesn't help much that much when the city already has at least two sports/entertainment complexes that are hardly used, but not up to 'major-league' standards (ie. not enough skyboxes). IMHO, this is just an example of a pissing contest for politicians & business leaders and they're using the taxpayers to fund it.

    Besides, do you really want me to base my opinion on Hollywood fiction (bad fiction at that)? Does LA feel like less of a city because they lost two NFL teams? Do the people of Chicago feel better when the Bulls win a championship and the fans riot? I don't have a problem with sports. But they are just _games_ and if you like a sport, it's more fun to actually play it with your friends/collegues than to watch some overpaid moron do it while you sit and get drunk.

  • Not everyone in the city may go to the pro sports games, but the people who do actually get something from the stadium construction.

    And I get the 'benefit' of higher taxes. Oh boy!

    At least a museum or symphony hall can be educational and cost no where near the amount a new stadium does. If it didn't cost so much it would be funny: politicians drag their feet on funding essential services & infrastructure, but jump at spending millions for entertainment. The schools are crappy, streets, bridges, etc are run down, but by God, everything's better because they have a team to cheer for! No wonder this country is so screwed up.

    IMHO, if there are so many people who get fired up over having a team, then they should make the team community property similar to what Green Bay has done. Or at least have the owners & business partners fund a large majority of the construction.

  • It all boils down to bread and circuses. History has a nasty way of repeating itself.
  • Well, there's no laughter....
    "From what I've been told, we will not be able to make our broadcast available on our website. The only way to access it will be through MLB and their deal with Real Networks. This decision was made by MLB and we have no control over it."


You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...