Sling Strikes Out With MLB

from the grounding-into-a-double-play dept

Sling Media's been coming under fire from content providers and mobile operators that are unhappy with its technology, which lets users place-shift TV and other media content from their home to a laptop or mobile device across the internet. Sports leagues don't like it either, and Major League Baseball is renewing its attack, saying Sling users are stealing from TV broadcasters that have paid for local rights. It's hard to understand where they're coming from -- it isn't as if Sling users are viewing pirated content, they're simply viewing content they're paying to watch in their home location. While Sling contends that laws and user agreements allow people to then watch that content wherever they like, MLB disagrees -- and says users should pay up. It's hard to see this position as much more than a blatant attempt at a money-grab, since, as we noted, the content it already being paid for, so users aren't "stealing" anything. It seems that MLB's greed outweighs its interest in services that make it easier for fans to follow the game and their favorite teams, and to do it in an easy, enjoyable way. Sling makes it easier for fans to follow their home team and watch games on their own schedule -- you'd think that MLB would be excited by technologies and services that can make its content more valuable, but unless they directly line its pockets, apparently it isn't.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    anonymous coward, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 9:35am

    the MLB needs the $$$ to pay for all the drugs the players are taking. steriods aren't cheap1


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Just Another Joe, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 9:46am


    Ok first, the league doesn't pay for the drugs, the players pay for their own supply.

    Second, this is just another example of companies (leagues) failing to provide what consumers want and trying to protect their proprietary business models.

    Third, who cares.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Mike Kelly, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 9:57am

    Do what I do

    Screw 'em. Don't watch them anymore

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Jester, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 9:57am

    MLB is just upset...

    MLB is just upset because Sling could cut into its own offering to watch any MLB game online. The problem with their model is that you pay $14.95 a month for every game (except those with blackout restrictions) when all you really want is the ability to watch games for one team - without paying for all the other games.

    That's all I have to say about that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    whargoul, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 9:57am

    Business Models...

    I'm really starting to hate that word. It seems like every time someone disagrees with a company's position someone has to go and wine about how their business model is all wrong.

    Microsoft - business model
    SCO - business model
    *AA - business model
    MLB - business model

    Shutup about the damn business models already. What it all really comes down to is greed.

    Microsoft - greed
    SCO - greed
    MLB - greed


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Angry Rivethead, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 10:05am

    This ENTIRE thing is so rediculous...

    Between the RIAA going after people and crap like this...does anyone that works for TV/Movie/Music industry NOT have thier head up thier a$$?

    For F's sake! Back in the days of the original Napster, I was one of the ones who lost thier account for DOWNLOADING metallica songs ( i moved them to a new directory after they finished) Because it was a huge pain in the butt to get TAPES into MP3 format back in those days when my Hard drive was 3gigs and a raw WAV file occupied 50MB. Now didn't I ALREADY own rights to those songs if I bought the tapes in 1985?

    Now they COULD have offered electronic copies of these songs in 1999...but i wouldn't have paid for them since I ALREADY OWNED AN F'N COPY. So essentially they were punishing ME for thier own SHORTCOMMINGS.

    This is the same thing here. Sling beat the cable companies to the punch of place shifting and now they're all pissed off. WHERE THE F are the industries R&D departments?

    F them! This kind of crap makes me want to pirate just out of spite. If I missed the boat like that at my job (biomedical industry) I would have been fired almost instantly. I expect other industries to hold themselves to the same standard.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Mousky, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 10:17am

    Shaking my head

    This has nothing to do with making money. It has everything to do with control shifting to the consumer. I have digital cable via the On Demand feature I can watch Sopranos and other cable shows and movies at a time that is convenient to me. It's an amazing and simple concept. All TV should be like this. But that is unlikely yo happen so long as media companies hang on to a business model that is as old as the television.

    It is amusing that one never ever hears the RIAA, MPAA or other companies/industry associations talking about improving their product or service. They would rather tighten the control they have over content and sue people for infringment, or make it difficult to move content between devices and so on. Why can't I buy WKRP In Cincinnati on DVD? Because no one knows who owns the music that is used in that show to determine royalty payments. What a waste.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Nevermore, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 10:50am

    Convoluted Regional Broadcast Rights

    "At the heart of the issue ... companies cut out cable and satellite operators who pay great sums for transmission rights in their areas, according to Kliavkoff. Baseball sells transmission rights to specific geographical locations. So, a cable subscriber in San Francisco who watches a Giants baseball game from his or her laptop during a visit to Chicago is stealing from the Chicago cable operator who paid to transmit MLB games in that city."

    Unless the Giants game you want to watch isn't being shown in Chicago or the Giants game you paid for under an expensive cable or satellite package is blacked-out because of a conflicting agreement with Fox or ESPN.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Rob Stevens, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 11:14am

    What's the difference?

    OK, when MLB can explain this to me, I'll take their side. How is using a Sling device to watch a game different than firing up a portable TV and watching it over-the-air?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Jezsik, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 11:28am

    What's good for the goose ...

    If MLB wants to charge me extra for watching a service I pay for just because I'm in a different city, then there's no reason why they should give back some money when I *don't* watch a game in my current city. After all, if I'm stealing from them, they must be stealing from me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    ET, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 11:35am

    Wrong Reaction

    The MLB should actually embrace the opportunity. Sling can increase the number of viewers for ANY television broadcast... more viewers means they can get more money for the ads they display.

    Of course, it's easier to be afraid of change than to embrace it.

    I personally think Sling is only the beginning of a long series of Internet based television products... and with the rising popularity of high speed Internet connections, more and more companies will start offering services which can be viewed/listened to/controlled/ etc. on line. Think domotica... make sure you turned off the oven? Log in to your house account... stuff like that. Inevitably there will be companies and services which are not happy with these technological advancements... Eventually they will come around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    singletooth, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 11:38am

    MLB Licks

    I used to be able to listen to games on the radio through the net, but now they must be paided for. MLB is so greedy its f'd up. I guess they have to be able to pay those players outragous wages. They're going to end up pricing themselves out of biz. I mean really who can really afford to pay to go to games anymore but ricj yuppies & corporate workers???

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Techie, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 11:45am

    Re: Business Models...

    I agree that term is really starting to be overused way to much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    wiredgonzo, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Shaking my head

    The real content that those who subscribe to the RIAA, MPAA or other companies/industry associations produce is licensing not music, movies, video etc. The only creative process left in an industry (that is what it is) is litigation. There are no artists left in the real world only lawyers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Joe T, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 2:11pm

    What's worse about the offering is that it's blackouts are based on where you live - not where you are. When I was in England, I couldn't watch the Yankees play the Devil Rays because I live in Florida. I called the people who didn't seem to care about that - I live in Florida, and that's it.

    It's that type of mentality from which products like the Slingbox are born in the first place. In other words, the greedy are the victims of their own shortsightedness.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 4:15pm

    "It is amusing that one never ever hears the RIAA, MPAA or other companies/industry associations talking about improving their product or service."

    Their lack of foresight and common sense can be described with many words, but amusing wouldn't be one of them.....

    "Why can't I buy WKRP In Cincinnati on DVD? Because no one knows who owns the music that is used in that show to determine royalty payments. What a waste."

    Not exactly. The problem is they do know. And that means they would have to pay royalties for any recognizable song played by the DJ's at WKRP.

    Go here for more info: (not mine, just good info) p.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Dima, Jun 7th, 2006 @ 5:10pm

    real reason

    I really don't think this is about a person watching their own TV signal away from their home.

    The thing they're probably most afraid of is instead of paying for a service to watch MLB games from other cities why don't I just find somebody on the net that has a slingbox plugged in at a broadcasting location.

    With the web 2.0 many-to many communications, it is not too hard to make such arrangement.

    I'm suspecting that this is the reasoning for MLB's attack.

    It's still darn funny. Almost as funny as having DVD's with regions locked in and DVD drives that only allow for the region to be changed 5 times.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Jun 8th, 2006 @ 4:25pm

    Stealing Or Slavery?

    The MLB says Slingers are "stealing" content that they've already bought, just because you might be in Tokyo watching it. Bogus.

    Their problems, and their aging "business models" (I find this expression indispensible, if you want to complain, focus on "utilize") are based partly on the fact that they "own" you. Or at least they think they do.

    For example, the commenter above who wanted to watch a Yankees game in London is "owned" by the Devil Rays franchise owner. MLB basically sold this human to that organization. They have also sold us to certain TV channels, who now have the exclusive right, per the MLB, to deliver us programming and force us to watch their selection of commercials or pay their fees in the case of pay TV.

    So now, when we "Sling" they basically treat us like runaway slaves; "stealing" our freedom from the rights owners who "bought" us.

    Who the heck gave them the right to sell or own me in the first place? If I have some value as a potential customer or viewer, then it's up to ME to decide where I spend that value - not the MLB. Even if their silly contracts stipulate it as so.

    But who created these arcane, highly complicated business models, rights relationships, cross-payment structures, and blackout rules? Not me. Not any elected government empowered to make laws. I didn't sign that contract. Why should I be bound to their messy, old-school ways of doing business?

    Sling on.

    (Apologies to anyone particularly sensitive to slavery issues. Clearly the current "ownership" is at a less significant level.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    BlackHawk, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 1:19pm

    Chicago Blackouts

    So if I know someone that pays for the seasons hockey package, (shows all games every night) and lives in a market that the Chicago Blackhawks home games can be shown, I can send them a slingbox and be able to watch those games from my media center pc hooked up to my home tv. I some one going to come to my house and arrest me? How are they going to be able to moitor what content is being watched from where? Cheers to ya Dollar Bill.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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