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O's / Nationals MASN TV Fees (2 of 2)


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#581 Mackus

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 01:04 PM

So subscriptions have dropped 36% in less than 5 years, wouldn’t this be a logical time to offer subscriptions outside of the telecom/obsolete sector? So stupid.

 

Are the blackout/market restrictions an MLB rule or are they contractual agreements with the carriers of the RSNs?  I don't understand why MLB would hold fast to the market rules.  But I do get why Comcast or Verizon wouldn't want to allow MASN to sell its content directly to users on a monthly basis, the cable companies would lose some subscribers doing that and a big part of the prices they are agreeing to pay the RSNs has gotta be that sort of exclusive right to sell the product.



#582 You Play to Win the Game

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 01:08 PM

I get that. I think at a certain point, MASN would be wise to call their bluff. I think with the way they’re playing and their trajectory, they would get more than 3.6M subscribers right now if that was the only way to watch an O’s game. Especially including the Nats part of that.

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 01:09 PM

And they wouldn’t need to get to 3.6M. They could charge $14.95/month and I’d 100% pay for that. They could charge more for over 5 devices. Stuff like that.

It’s just a truly unsurprising lack of creativity.

#584 makoman

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 01:20 PM

And they wouldn’t need to get to 3.6M. They could charge $14.95/month and I’d 100% pay for that. They could charge more for over 5 devices. Stuff like that.

It’s just a truly unsurprising lack of creativity.

Me too, but also right now they get a lot of money from October to March for doing nothing. 



#585 Mackus

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 01:21 PM

I get that. I think at a certain point, MASN would be wise to call their bluff. I think with the way they’re playing and their trajectory, they would get more than 3.6M subscribers right now if that was the only way to watch an O’s game. Especially including the Nats part of that.

 

How do they call their bluff if its a contract that still has years left on it?  I have no idea what the terms are, but I imagine that the cable companies have pretty good contract lawyers and would've written it up to make it so none of the networks would ever dare sell their content outside of the agreement.  For example, I have to punch my cable subscription info in anytime I wanna watch ESPN or a news channel online for some reason.  Those networks can't give away or sell their content to non-subscribers.  

 

Full agree that the entire model needs rethinking.  But the cable companies have to be holding onto their sports networks and content as one of the last things that people will pay to see live.



#586 weird-O

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 01:24 PM

And they wouldn’t need to get to 3.6M. They could charge $14.95/month and I’d 100% pay for that. They could charge more for over 5 devices. Stuff like that.

It’s just a truly unsurprising lack of creativity.

I suspect their logic is, a bird in the hand...

Their current arrangement guarantees X amount of money. If they bypass the TV service providers, they risk losing that money. But they are also putting themselves in a position where they would need to provide a product worthy of the cost. They don't do that. Their on and off the field products are, and have long been, deplorable. As it stands now, they could lose 150 games this year, with a $15M payroll, and still collect all that MASN money. There's zero motivation to rebuild their business model.  


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#587 ivanbalt

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 01:24 PM

And they wouldn’t need to get to 3.6M. They could charge $14.95/month and I’d 100% pay for that. They could charge more for over 5 devices. Stuff like that.

It’s just a truly unsurprising lack of creativity.


Mature businesses hate creativity and change.  It's easier to bleed your existing customers and lay off employees.


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#588 You Play to Win the Game

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 01:41 PM

How do they call their bluff if its a contract that still has years left on it? I have no idea what the terms are, but I imagine that the cable companies have pretty good contract lawyers and would've written it up to make it so none of the networks would ever dare sell their content outside of the agreement. For example, I have to punch my cable subscription info in anytime I wanna watch ESPN or a news channel online for some reason. Those networks can't give away or sell their content to non-subscribers.

Full agree that the entire model needs rethinking. But the cable companies have to be holding onto their sports networks and content as one of the last things that people will pay to see live.

I mean yeah, whenever the contract is up. It’s just well past time they get off that sinking ship. Incredibly short sighted stuff.

#589 Nigel Tufnel

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 01:49 PM

I wonder how many people with MASN in their cable package never watch MASN.  80%?  90%?  It may be that something like $120M of MASN's $142M revenue comes from people who literally never watch the channel. 

 

The danger of offering MASN via a streaming subscription (assuming it's even allowed under their contracts with cable companies) is that it would encourage people who actually watch MASN to cut the cord.  And if a disproportionate number of people who watch MASN cut the cord, then at some point it makes no sense for cable companies to offer MASN.  That's $120M of lost profits, which would be pretty difficult to make up with a $14.95 a month streaming package that everyone would cancel during the offseason.



#590 You Play to Win the Game

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 02:02 PM

I wonder how many people with MASN in their cable package never watch MASN.  80%?  90%?  It may be that something like $120M of MASN's $142M revenue comes from people who literally never watch the channel. 

 

The danger of offering MASN via a streaming subscription (assuming it's even allowed under their contracts with cable companies) is that it would encourage people who actually watch MASN to cut the cord.  And if a disproportionate number of people who watch MASN cut the cord, then at some point it makes no sense for cable companies to offer MASN.  That's $120M of lost profits, which would be pretty difficult to make up with a $14.95 a month streaming package that everyone would cancel during the offseason.

In 5 years they've already gone from 5.6M to 3.6M. This is inevitable. It's a when, not an if. So why not get ahead of it. They're lucky enough to be tied to the Nats rights. They're lucky enough to be competitive right now. I'd say be proactive and get ahead of this, rather than wait to go from 3.6M to 1.6M by 2028. Only a matter of time.



#591 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 02:06 PM

Are the blackout/market restrictions an MLB rule or are they contractual agreements with the carriers of the RSNs?  I don't understand why MLB would hold fast to the market rules.  But I do get why Comcast or Verizon wouldn't want to allow MASN to sell its content directly to users on a monthly basis, the cable companies would lose some subscribers doing that and a big part of the prices they are agreeing to pay the RSNs has gotta be that sort of exclusive right to sell the product.

 

Sorta both. The RSNs do contractually grant the carriers exclusivity to the channel/content via blackouts. But if you have ever seen the map of each MLB team's broadcast market, it's obvious there is a lot of territory where a team's RSN is not picked up, but still blacked out. The carrier doesn't see the cost of offering the channel worth passing the price on to customers (typically happens the further you get from the team's home city). That part is MLB hoping to get some sort of leverage over carriers.



#592 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 02:12 PM

It's behind a paywall, but this is an informative article on where the future of local broadcasts may be headed. This might be the one and only time where Manfred seems to be thinking ahead of the trend, thanks to a warning he got years ago from none other than Rupert Murdoch.

 

https://theathletic....g-tv-blackouts/



#593 weird-O

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 02:13 PM

In 5 years they've already gone from 5.6M to 3.6M. This is inevitable. It's a when, not an if. So why not get ahead of it. They're lucky enough to be tied to the Nats rights. They're lucky enough to be competitive right now. I'd say be proactive and get ahead of this, rather than wait to go from 3.6M to 1.6M by 2028. Only a matter of time.

I may be missing something. What's the motivation to offer a streaming service, when they can just have TV providers provide the platform and pay MASN for the privilege of doing so? 


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#594 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 02:17 PM

I may be missing something. What's the motivation to offer a streaming service, when they can just have TV providers provide the platform and pay MASN for the privilege of doing so? 

 

Because more and more people are leaving the TV providers, and the providers pay MASN on a per-subscriber basis, not a flat fee.



#595 weird-O

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 02:31 PM

Because more and more people are leaving the TV providers, and the providers pay MASN on a per-subscriber basis, not a flat fee.

That's true, and it's been true for many years now. Until they reach the point where they will make more money from a streaming service, than they do from Comcast, et al, they'll stick with their current arrangement. They aren't going to gain more in viewer subscriptions, than they do from TV service providers. We just aren't at that point yet. To further hamper this idea, TV providers are already in the streaming game. So it's not like they're sitting on an increasingly lonely island wondering what to do. In fact, they're already well ahead of MASN in platform development. 


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#596 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 03:25 PM

To further hamper this idea, TV providers are already in the streaming game. So it's not like they're sitting on an increasingly lonely island wondering what to do. In fact, they're already well ahead of MASN in platform development. 

 

There's a difference between a MVPD (Comcast, et al) offering its customers the ability to stream their service vs the ability to offer specific channels as a standalone product. In most cases, they cannot do the latter, as those are separate rights that they don't own or license.

 

Most streaming rights are still owned by the individual clubs (though I think a few did sell theirs to the now-bankrupt Bally's RSN). The 30 teams pooled streaming rights for out-of-market broadcasts to sell as MLBTV, but that doesn't include their in-market streaming rights (hence MLBTV blackouts). Like I mentioned above, some of those blackouts are forced via the contracts with carriers. But there are a couple teams (NYY and BOS) that are now offering standalone streaming products, so they probably either renegotiated with carriers or added the ability to offer a standalone service when they renewed with the MVPD carriers. Not surprisingly, both of those teams own at least a plurality of their broadcast RSN.

 

Manfred talks in The Athletic article about how in the future, and this will likely be many years, that teams might be selling their local broadcasts as streaming only when the RSNs on MVPD are no longer viable. For instance, someone like Amazon or Peacock, who already have existing and fairly reliable streaming platforms, might bid high for in-market streaming rights to teams like the Yankees or Dodgers. For others, mainly smaller market clubs, MLB's central office might purchase those rights and sell them as separate subscriptions under MLBTV.

 

All this is really interesting as far as the long-term future for MASN. The network still covers a huge market, so it probably won't go under anytime soon. But I wonder, if the court ruling is ultimately not in MASN's/O's favor how much sooner the network as we know it may no longer be viable. And just as importantly, how the deal MLB made with Angelos specifies what would happen at that point.


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#597 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 04:11 PM

Apparently when Leonsis was trying to buy the Nats he also offered to buy all of MASN. The Orioles told him it wasn't for sale.

 

https://www.washingt...gton-nationals/



#598 You Play to Win the Game

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 04:23 PM


That's true, and it's been true for many years now. Until they reach the point where they will make more money from a streaming service, than they do from Comcast, et al, they'll stick with their current arrangement. They aren't going to gain more in viewer subscriptions, than they do from TV service providers. We just aren't at that point yet. To further hamper this idea, TV providers are already in the streaming game. So it's not like they're sitting on an increasingly lonely island wondering what to do. In fact, they're already well ahead of MASN in platform development.

That’s what I’m trying to get at here - what is that tipping point. Losing 2 million subscribers in 5 years is huge. At what point does it make more sense to make that transition? It has to be getting there based on those attrition numbers. And yes, they wouldn’t get 12 months worth of subscription fees, but could collect much more than the $3 and change they are getting now.

#599 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 04:34 PM

That’s what I’m trying to get at here - what is that tipping point. Losing 2 million subscribers in 5 years is huge. At what point does it make more sense to make that transition? It has to be getting there based on those attrition numbers. And yes, they wouldn’t get 12 months worth of subscription fees, but could collect much more than the $3 and change they are getting now.

 

This Manfred quote from The Athletic article touches on that somewhat.

 

“To the extent that we’re smart and end up with flexibility on the digital side, we’re going to massively increase the number of people who have access to those games, that’s really important,” Manfred said. “There will be this kind of hybrid model out there for a few years. I think that what will happen on the cable side is, what they pay for baseball will go down. It will be cheaper for the cable provider. In return, we’ll get digital flexibility so that we can reach fans that are outside the bundle. And I think, all in all, it will result in fans being more able to watch the game, and watch the game on platforms that they want to be on.”

 

So instead of $3 for every MVPD subscriber MASN charges maybe half that, and makes up the difference by selling a direct-to-consumer streaming product. They would just need to do it through someone else....MLBTV, Amazon, whoever....because they are clearly failing in the digital realm on their own (shocker).


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#600 dude

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Posted 19 April 2023 - 06:47 PM

That’s what I’m trying to get at here - what is that tipping point. Losing 2 million subscribers in 5 years is huge. At what point does it make more sense to make that transition? It has to be getting there based on those attrition numbers. And yes, they wouldn’t get 12 months worth of subscription fees, but could collect much more than the $3 and change they are getting now.

 

It's hard to figure out where to jump back in on some of this stuff.

 

First, 5.6M (if that number is real) is nothing given the expanse of the 2-team MASN region.

 

Second, I think it's worth noting that the loss of subscribers could be somewhat intentional.  There's a point in time where they'll want to do more again.  I don't know if they'll be able to fire up the engines then, but losing customers (short-term) serves a purpose.


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