What Baseball (And Other Businesses) Could Learn From The Web

from the plenty dept

I called the folks at MLB this morning because I was trying to watch a game that they were showing via live video online. I (reluctantly) subscribe to their audio package that lets me listen to games online, and according to their announcement about the video feeds, current subscribers would get the video feeds for free – but when I went to watch, I was told it would cost $5 just to see a tiny, choppy, badly done video online. It turns out (according to the guy at MLB.com I spoke to) that I was only subscribed to the “Gameday Audio” package ($10/year) and not the “Total Ticket” package ($10/month). If I had Total Ticket I could watch the game for free, so I asked why I would want to pay $10/month instead of the more reasonable $10/year and he couldn’t give me a good answer (other than I’d get to watch this one video stream). It seems that MLB.com, like the music and movie industry is trying desperately to squeeze every last penny out of every single action online. They don’t realize that free stuff helps sell other stuff. ZDNet has a column describing how Major League Baseball needs to learn from the web. He isn’t talking about the video feeds, but their recent, ridiculous attempt to shut down fan sites for using official logos. Both, though, are examples of short term thinking that effectively kill long term strategy. Giving away some things for free to attract people to pay for other stuff is a strategy that works remarkably well for many businesses – especially entertainment businesses that need fans.

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Comments on “What Baseball (And Other Businesses) Could Learn From The Web”

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Mike (profile) says:

Re: so wrong

Giving away products with no business model caused countless dot coms to fail. Giving away stuff to attract people to buy stuff is a very valid business model.

AOL gives away tons of CDs to get you to use their service. They give away free trials also, so that maybe you’ll buy the service eventually.

Pizza places give away a free cola with a purchase of two slices because it will entice you to buy the slices.

Bookstores have free author signings because it will entice you to buy the book (and to browse and buy other books).

People buy music they heard on the radio for free because they liked what they heard and want to own the music themselves.

Baseball teams give away bobblehead dolls and gloves and posters for free because it will encourage people to buy tickets to the games.

Techdirt gives away Techdirt.com for free because it encourages some people to sign up for Techdirt Corporate Intelligence.

It seems pretty straightforward whether or not the lights are on here… I’m sorry if I haven’t explained it clearly enough, but if you could tell me where I’m missing the point I’ll try to explain my point of view.

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