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Cable Matches Extra Innings Deal

3/21/2007 01:33:00 PM Eastern

New York – Cable TV’s In Demand service said it would match DirecTV’s seven-year $700 million deal to continue carrying Major League Baseball’s “Extra Innings” out-of-market game package, according to an AP report.

In Demand, which is jointly owned by cable TV operators Comcast, Time Warner, and Cox, said it would also agree to carry MLB’s The Baseball Channel, which is scheduled to launch in 2009, to at least the same number of subscribers as DirecTV.

Rival satellite-TV provider EchoStar has still not announced its decision on matching DirecTV’s terms to continue offering Extra Innings. EchoStar chairman Charlie Ergen has complained to subscribers that the deal does not include a pot-sweetening 20 percent equity stake in The Baseball Channel, which was offered to DirecTV.

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee scheduled a March 27 hearing date to review the implications of the deal, after EchoStar and cable subscribers became concerned that they might lose the Extra Innings service if DirecTV were allowed to negotiate an exclusive carriage deal.

DirecTV plans to make the package available to subscribers for $159 for the season, and is offering a “Superpass” interactive offering for an extra $39 on its Web site.

“Extra Innings” had more than 500,000 television subscribers last year and approximately 60 percent more on the MLB.com Web site. IN Demand said its Extra Innings subscribers exceeded 200,000 last year.