This is beginning to feel so Yogi Berra — as in “deja vu all over again” — and it will be a recurring story until all major sports are streamed live locally, nationally and internationally. When he spoke with us last month, Bob Bowman, president of MLBAM, avoided any suggestion that local live streaming of Major League Baseball could be imminent; he left a five-year window open. Not a bad move, given all the moving parts that have to go just right for MLB finally to get in the local streaming biz. But MLB wouldn’t mind streaming live ASAP.
This week, SBJ reveals some details of the latest effort that went splat: talks between Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) and MLB to test a local-only streaming of live White Sox and Cubs games for free in 2008. The idea deadlocked, according to SBJ, when the two couldn’t agree what site would host the games “to control the user experience and generate traffic numbers.” But MLB president Bob DuPuy told SBJ he expects the talks to resume for 2009.
Then again, it sounds like some people in the MLB might be willing to go golden-goose hunting as they question the power held by MLBAM — especially in the wake of the deal that gave ESPN (NYSE: DIS) streaming rights for its Sunday and Wednesday games. Boston Red Sox owner John Henry: “Our concern is simply that of protecting local media assets and local rights holders.” Stronger comments about ESPN getting more rights than local TV partners are attributed only to “executives with several MLB clubs.” Ditto for the idea that MLBAM’s own rights may be too broad.
Meanwhile, don’t expect any real movement until well after the World Series.