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SportsBusiness Journal: MLB hails compromise on broadcast territories

Jan 25, 2016

Reporting from the Major League Baseball Owners Meetings in Coral Gables, Florida, SportsBusiness Journal reporter Eric Fisher writes that MLB hails compromise on broadcast territories.

A bleary-eyed Bob Bowman acknowledged that he, and many others involved in the Garber vs. MLB lawsuit regarding baseball’s broadcast territories and blackout rules, didn’t get much sleep over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. But marathon negotiating sessions produced a settlement that represents perhaps the largest shift in how baseball distributes its content since the advent of live video streaming more than a decade ago.

The settlement, after three years of litigation regarding baseball’s long-frustrating broadcast rules, contains four key components: price reductions in MLB’s out-of-market subscriptions, MLB.TV and Extra Innings; the creation of a single-team subscription option for MLB.TV; a pathway for regional sports networks owned by DirecTV and Comcast to join Fox Sports and offer authenticated in-market live game streaming; and the creation of a Follow Your Team option in MLB.TV that allows for a limited breakthrough of current blackout rules…

… “This is a meaningful step forward,” said Peter Leckman, partner with Langer, Grogan & Diver, a Philadelphia-based firm that represented the plaintiffs. “There is real relief coming out of this for consumers.”