After months of no professional major team sports, both Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association are getting set to return to play. Both sports are set to return near the end of July, ending a nearly unprecedented sports drought.
What does this mean for those who pay for the MLB Extra Innings package, which allows fans to watch games of teams not in their home city?
According to a report by TV Answer Man, DirecTV is charging $90 for the Extra Innings package for the current season, in which each team is scheduled to play 60 games. A typical MLB season runs 162 games, for which the company was charging $183 for the full season prior to the coronavirus shutdown.
The report stated that while baseball teams will play 37 percent of the scheduled season, DirecTV is nevertheless charging about 49 percent of the planned price. That purchase, however, does include a free subscription to the MLB.TV online package.
And while DirecTV remains the exclusive home of the NFL's Sunday Ticket out-of-market package, Extra Innings is also available through other pay TV providers such as Comcast, Verizon, and Charter, although it was a DirecTV exclusive between its launch in 1996 and 2001. As of the report last week, the cable companies hadn't yet announced pricing for the package; Comcast/Xfinity's Extra Innings website still says "check back in March 2020 for MLB Extra Innings pricing and package information," and that it's "currently unavailable for purchase."
Major League Baseball will officially announce its 2020 schedule Monday night. Presumably the other pay TV subscribers will make some sort of announcement once the schedule is live.
DirecTV, which has been owned by AT&T since it was purchased in 2015, has appeared to be in some trouble in recent years. The satellite service has been shedding subscribers, including 900,000 in the first quarter of this year, leading to rumors that AT&T is looking for a way to dump the service. AT&T has also appeared to be placing greater emphasis on its other video products.
AT&T will announce its second quarter earnings, and presumably some updated numbers about subscribers for DirecTV and its other video services, on July 23.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.