Who gets the rights to offer downloads of a major American sport? The that sports’ league itself. Major League Baseball is offering downloads of this year’s US baseball quarterfinal and semifinal games, plus video clip of highlights from regular season games. Each quarterfinal or semifinal game clip costs US$3.95, is approximately 400-megabytes to 600-megabytes in size, and is in RealOne format for Windows PCs. MLB.com permits purchase only for personal use, but allows people to cut thsee files onto CDs.
For years, various sport sites have lobbied MLB (and other sports’ leagues) for rights to stream live games and to offer video downloads of finished games. In an era when sports leagues insist that they themselves own the rights to all images of their games, it shouldn’t be surprising that that Major League Baseball keeps those rights, directly offers those videos online to consumers, and keeps the revenues. It’s simply another case of disintermediation between events and the people.
Will FIFA, NASCAR, the NFL, NHL, NBA, the Formula One management, and the UK Premiership follow the NBA’s lead? We think so.