Wednesday, April 2, 2008

DirecTV and MLB HD Price Whoring

I've been back from our Midwest Family Tour for a couple days, but hadn't made much time for blogging since there's been very little to blog about. I think I've gone nearly two weeks now without any serious gaming, which is more than a little disconcerting. I still need to finish Bioshock, so I'm hoping to make some time for that before the week is over. (I think I'm pretty close now.)

With baseball season underway and the Detroit Tigers looking like post-season contenders again this year I had planned to break down and order DirecTV's Extra Innings package. I had the page loaded up and was ready to click on the order button when I noticed that they're doing the same thing with their MLB package that they do with the NFL: putting the HD content on another tier, for which you have to pay extra.

Now $180 for a season of baseball isn't a bad value. It's not a great value, but it's six months of daily baseball at the same price of an NFL package where you'll probably only watch around 16 games. But I'm absolutely sick of DirecTV double-dipping for HD content. I already have to pay an extra $10 a month just to enable HD content, which was fine until they put HD-exclusive channels like UniversalHD, HDMovies and MGMHD into their own separate tier. To tell subscribers of these already expensive sports packages that they've got to pony up yet again if they want to see a fraction of the games in HD, I think that's just gouging. (Something I've told them in a not-so-politely worded letter.) I mean if you order HBO or Showtime, you don't have to pay a separate fee to get the HD versions of those channels.

Fortunately -unlike the NFL, which I'm canceling this year; screw the Lions- I have a choice with the MLB. So instead of going the DirecTV route, I've signed up for MLB.com's MLBTV Premium package. It's $120 dollars and includes a game mix channel (six games at once), MLB Radio (so I can listen to afternoon games at work) and some other stuff. Unlike past years, this year they've got a 1.2MB video feed that's much closer to (non-HD) broadcast quality. Since my PC's secondary display output is hooked up to our video projector, I'm thinking I can watch games all summer long while my wife watches regular stuff on the TV underneath the big screen. (It's an odd setup, but it works.)

As for the Tigers, I can't tell you how heartwarming it is to see this team competitive again. After 20 years of losing Detroit baseball, their incredible regular season and World Series appearance made 2006 just a magical year. In 2007 they had a disappointing finish (considering they had the league's best record late in July), but it was still a fun season of baseball. And with some of their off-season moves this year, acquiring Edgar Renteria, Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera, this year should be more of the same. Hopefully the pitching holds up because that lineup is just unbelievable.

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