Following Major League Baseball deals that allow Cingular Wireless And Sprint subscribers to listen to local radio feeds of every major league baseball team on their cell phones, local rights holders are up in arms. It doesn’t help that MLB also forged an 11-year, $650 million deal with XM Satellite Radio, which the rights holders have already publicly grumbled about. Local radio rights holders, who already have multi-million dollar radio contracts with teams, say the deals decrease the value of local radio baseball packages and undercut the exclusivity they pay a premium for.
It will not end here, folks. And unless Radio’s deals preclude these kinds of arrangements it will get worse before it gets better.
I’m going to venture a guess that Major League Sports will never agree to local Radio rightsholders restraining them from making these kinds of deals for one simple reason: Major League Sports needs to stay relevant to all up-and-coming forms of communication and entertainment just like Radio presumably does. It is life and death for them. They must open up new ways of providing their content in order to thrive into the future.
Is this tragic for Radio? Yes. But you know and I know that Radio cannot afford to pay what it would take to keep this from happening. And to say we’ll drop the broadcasts from our air will, in the long run, hurt us as much as it hurts Major League Sports in the short run. Maybe more.
Because once it’s gone from our air folks will be hungry for a way to get the content.
And it will be as close as their phone or their XM Radio.
So what’s the answer? Develop our own content that we own. Period.