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SBD/Issue 123/Sports Media
Cox Offers Free MLB.TV In Response To MLB/DirecTV Deal
Published March 19, 2007
Cox Communications sent a letter to its San Diego subscribers offering free MLB.TV subscriptions for the ‘07 season to subscribers who last year purchased the MLB Extra Innings out-of-market TV package. The offer, posted at www.cox.com/promotions/mlb, comes in the form of a rebate for the $89.95 price of the base MLB.TV subscription. Cox officials did not return numerous phone calls by presstime. Comcast, meanwhile, has not rolled out a similar initiative. Time Warner Cable also did not comment by deadline. Cox’ move comes as the cable industry is deciding whether to buy the Extra Innings package on similar terms as DirecTV.
FIGHTING BACK: Sources predict cable, as well as satellite operator EchoStar, will not cut a deal for the package and a planned MLB channel, and Cox’ rebate offers a glimpse at how the cable industry plans to fight back. It is unknown whether or when Cox will reach out to its other markets in the same fashion. Cox’ San Diego cable system is its fourth largest in the country with more than 420,000 basic cable customers. In a letter sent to its San Diego subscribers detailing the offer, Cox says it is still negotiating to get access to Extra Innings. But the move appears to ensure that it will not accept MLB’s proposal.
MLB RESPONSE: Cox’ offer does not use any MLB marks, and the fine print in the Cox rebate form indicates MLB is not a sponsor of the carrier’s offer. It is not known whether MLB will attempt to fight the move, though a senior MLB official said earlier this month, “We will not allow any of our assets to be used to undermine this deal.” Jim Gallagher, MLBAM spokesperson, said today of the Cox offer, “We don’t know anything about it.”