Thursday, May 21, 2009

Direct, via satellite, my little corner of the world

Finally, something good for MLB fans overseas:

Intelsat, Ltd., the world’s leading provider of commercial satellite services, announced that Major League Baseball International (MLBI) signed a contract for international distribution to its rightsholders in Asia, Europe and Latin America, providing local viewing access to games and highlights of the upcoming season.

Standard and high definition feeds of the League’s games will be transmitted into Asia, Europe and Latin America using five Intelsat satellites. Intelsat will pick up the signals via its major video switch interconnects, transport the programming to its teleport facility in Ellenwood, Georgia, and uplink the games to the Intelsat satellites for transmission to the broadcast receive sites in Asia, Europe and Latin America. In addition to regular season games, this contract also calls for transmission of The American League Championship Series, the World Series and The World Baseball Classic in March 2009.
For those of you in the states who can it free on local channels, or through your cable or satellite package, you don't know how hard it is to get games outside the U.S. Yeah, I know there are issues between Direct TV and Dish Network, and the MLB channel, and Fox and all those problems.

The thing to remember, however, is that you do have access to the games. You might not like the particular channel or the package, or the price, but you have the option. I was in the states until last year and went through the same thing.

But it's different outside the states, or at least the America's. Not a lot of people really want to show baseball on television, as they don't feel there is enough advertising revenue to make it profitable. Here in the U.K., there is no baseball on television. There used to be, but Channel 5 dropped it this year for economic reasons. Our choices are limited to ESPN, which doesn't actually show a lot of games, or on the internet. And none of it is free.

MLB doesn't really care about its fan base outside the states, and we all know that, except where it makes them money. So they are talking a good game:

“Major League Baseball enjoys an avid fan base around the world, and we are continually seeking ways to increase the profile of the franchise. As we continue to increase our distribution, we chose Intelsat because it offered us a seamless, one-platform solution for our international broadcasting needs,” said Russell Gabay, Vice President and Executive Producer, International Broadcasting. “The Intelsat satellites provide coverage and access to video neighborhoods that help us expand distribution of our programs.”
They can spin it however they want, as long as there is the chance I can get games.

Just as an aside, here is something I didn't know:

Major League Baseball International (MLBI) focuses on the worldwide growth of baseball and the promotion of Major League Baseball and MLB Club trademarks and copyrights through special events, broadcasting, market development, licensing and sponsorship initiatives. MLBI is committed to showcasing the world’s best baseball talent through international events around the globe. Broadcast in 229 countries and territories, Major League Baseball game telecasts are re-transmitted in 13 different languages. MLBI executes and supports game development programs targeting players and coaches from grassroots to elite levels. With an extensive list of marketing partners worldwide, MLBI continues to grow its position as a leader in the international marketplace. MLBI is supported in its mission through presences in Beijing, New York, London, Sydney and Tokyo.
What MLB cares about is selling the game overseas to make money. But try getting them to spend some of the money on development, equipment, fields, instructional leagues, etc. It's not happening. But they sure do talk pretty.

Anyhow, the main point is, if this all works out, people outside the US might have a better satellite package than people living in the states.

Now that would be funny.

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