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MLB rejects offer from cable group

March 22, 2007|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

Any hope of Major League Baseball's Extra Innings out-of-market package staying on cable may have disappeared Wednesday with baseball's rejection of the latest offer from In Demand.

"This offer meets all the conditions set forth by MLB," said Robert Jacobson, president and chief executive of In Demand, which represents a consortium of cable companies, including Time Warner and Cox. Jacobson also called it an offer that matches DirecTV's.

But MLB President Bob DuPuy said in a statement that the offer "falls short of nearly all of the material conditions."

A seven-year agreement between DirecTV and MLB was announced March 8. But baseball reached out at the last second and gave In Demand and the Dish Network, which also carried the package, another chance.

Mike Trager, a New York sports television consultant, said the stalemate is the result of MLB not wanting its Baseball Channel, scheduled for launch in 2009, on a pay digital tier. Instead, MLB wants the channel to have a wider distribution.

If the stalemate cannot be broken by March 31 -- a deadline set by MLB -- the Extra Innings package will be available only on DirecTV. Opening day is April 1.

At least one cable company isn't standing still.

Cox confirmed this week that it is offering its customers who subscribed to Extra Innings last year a full rebate of the $89.95 MLB.TV broadband service.

A spokeswoman for Cox in San Diego County said about 3,000 of that area's 537,000 customers subscribed to Extra Innings last year. Cox also serves Orange County, the Palos Verdes area and Santa Barbara.

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