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Years ago, we chose DirecTV over cable because of access to out-of-market MLB and NHL packages. Eventually they were available on cable too, lessening the major league sports difference between the two, unless you’re an NFL fan, consistently exclusive to DirecTV much to cable operators’ consternation. A new, controversial deal announced today by MLB and DirecTV could change that — if cable operators and Echostar decide not to take advantage of a last-minute shift. That shift gives cable’s InDemand and Echostar’s Dish Network the chance to match DirecTV’s terms, which include launch of a new MLB channel and equity in that channel. So far, as Richard Sandomir explains, this is going over like the proverbial lead balloon with cable operators who don’t want to promise blanket carriage for the new channel. The two other incumbents have until March 31 to work something out with MLB. Release
In the meantime, the biggest winner from this could well be MLBAM, which delivers the out-of-market games on broadband. It is a very real option for those who don’t already have DirecTV — especially if they can figure out how to pipe the games onto large-screen home tvs and if MLB.TV comes through with the promised video upgrade.