Disclosure: I am a former employee of Sling Media.
I thought it made sense to get that out of the way up front. Was just reading an article at Ars regarding MLB’s latest feelings about that Slingbox company (nothing reflects better on someone who can’t even deign to get a company name right when quoted):
“Of course, what they are doing is not legal,” MLB general counsel Michael Mellis told The Hollywood Reporter Esq. “We and other leagues have formed a group to study the issue and plan our response. A lot depends on ongoing discussions. Plus, there’s no guarantee that Slingbox will be around next year. It’s a startup.”
I must say I enjoy picking apart quotes when given the opportunity. And that opportunity is now.
“Of course, what they are doing is not legal” – if it were “of course” why would they need to …
“We and other leagues have formed a group to study the issue and plan our response” – shouldn’t it be obvious? Maybe it’s not so “not legal” as he said up front? Maybe?? Probably.
Additional Disclosure: I am not a lawyer.
“A lot depends on ongoing discussions” – good, that’s always good. I wonder who’s in those discussions?
“Plus, there’s no guarantee that Slingbox will be around next year” – actually, unless the boxes are going to spontaneously combust in 2008, there is every guarantee they will be around next year. Unless he meant the company, I guess, in which case it’s just as fair to say there’s no guarantee that MLB will be around next year, they might just go on strike, again. Okay, I must admit I’m particularly bitter because I am a Montrealer, and lost my Expos to
the insane greed propagated by MLB and the owners, particularly G.S. of N.Y. Washington.
“It’s a startup” – well, if it’s just a startup, and not even guaranteed to be around next year, then why get all fussy about it anyway?
Still more disclosure: I get all bent out of shape when I read such inanity. So much so that I use words like inanity without even verifying if they are real words.
Also from the article:
At last year’s Digital Media Summit, MLB VP George Kliavkoff said that a San Francisco Giants fan visiting Chicago and watching a Giants game via his Slingbox is “stealing” from whatever Chicago cable operator has the rights to carry the game in the Windy City.
This is a very interesting point, one in which MLB has fairly, well, dead-wrong. See, when I’m visiting Chicago, the local cable operator doesn’t really give much thought to me. Hotel room TVs aren’t counted for local advertising. So the provider there really ignores me. On the other hand, my local SF affiliate loves counting my eyeballs every time they can (not mine specifically per se, although almost mine).
I guess the part I most don’t understand is why they get quite so ridiculous about it. It reminds me of Hollywood starting out all anti-VCR, which turned out to be one of the most profitable avenues the studios ever saw. MLB’s response to placeshifting shouldn’t be to call in the lawyers and cry foul. I’d like to see them, as they say, “man up” about this. They should either:
- COMPETE with Sling – Provide an alternative solution that is more compelling than a Slingbox
- PARTNER with Sling – Find a way to leverage the Slingbox to generate additional revenue or business opportunities
MLB is a multi-billion dollar organization. Yup, that was with a “B”. Sling’s raised a total of about $57 million. Calling in lawyers to deal with this is like me calling Terminix to kill a spider in my house.
Final disclosure: I do not work for Terminix.
I just thought that if the MLB wants to go after Sling Media then they would also have to name Sony, with their Locationfree TV system, and I think Sony has more money to fight with.
I’d hate to see Sling foot the legal bill for it, but I almost want to see MLB try and take away our rights to watch content we’ve legally purchased. I doubt that they’ll ever sue though, this is just rhetoric to try and scare off other companies from using the technology. If MLB sued Sling and lost, it would be a BetaMax decision for the digital age and would cause a countless number of tech companies to rush and build the functionality into their own products. Strangely enough, if MLB did sue Sling, I think that they would hurt them more by losing than winning. At least for now, MLB can claim legal ambigouity in order to scare off the deep pockets from turning placeshifting into a bigger phenomenon than it already is.
MLB is in competition with SlingBox, it’s called MLB.tv and they sell subscription to view out of market games monthly or by the season. It’s a fine line because MLB owns the rights to the media and feel like the SlingBox is giving people access to their media when out of market, without their permission (payment).
I am 100% for being able to get the content you pay for wherever you are. If I pay the cable bill every month and know how to get the content sent to me while I’m on a business trip in NY so be it.