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MLB charging $2+ Mil for fantasy baseball licenses?

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MLB charging $2+ Mil for fantasy baseball licenses?

Postby phunkadelic » Thu Feb 16, 2006 2:51 pm

A local sports radio host in Cincinnati is reporting the following as fact:

15 million+ adults play fantasy baseball........spending 150- million dollars.
MLB has changed the landscape for fantasy baseball this season.
They have won a battle to charge fantasy sites for the right to use players name and their stats.
MLB contends players batting averages and stats are historical facts that cannot be used freely.
Do you agree?
MLB reached a $50-million agreement with the player's association giving baseball exclusive rights to license statistics. MLB is requiring fantasy sites to buy a license. I'm told they are asking for $2+ million, that's up from $25k last season.
As a result this season...ONLY five sites will be running fantasy baseball leagues: MLB.COM, ESPN.COM, YAHOO.COM, SPORTINGNEWS.COM, CBSSPORTSLINE.COM.
MLB contends that intellectual property law makes it illegal for fantasy player operators to "commercially exploit the identities and statistical profiles" of big league players.


I know that's not the easiest in the world to read, but I was wondering if anyone knows anything about this. Are they really charging over $2 million per site this year for licensing rights?

I knew there was talk about this earlier in the year, but I never heard any resolution. Can anyone verify any sites other than those mentioned forsure have leagues running this year?
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Postby TheVinMan » Thu Feb 16, 2006 3:00 pm

I wouldn't doubt it seeing as they are a bunch of greedy SOB's.
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Postby Yoda » Thu Feb 16, 2006 3:01 pm

If MLB gets too greedy, they will lose. MLBPA can make a deal to allow player names and use cities instead of teams, etc. MLB doesn't own the players or the stats so I don't understand how they think they can get away with this.
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Postby Madison » Thu Feb 16, 2006 3:39 pm

I'm in the boat that says MLB doesn't own the players or their stats. They are public record as far as I'm concerned. Just look at how many sites have player stats on them. You don't see MLB going after those guys do you? They are just trying to cash in, but I'd bet Yahoo/Sportsline/etc., would win in a court case and not have to pay one red cent to MLB.
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How about CDMSports?

Postby JimBaker » Thu Feb 16, 2006 3:48 pm

CDMSports.com will be running their fantasy baseball games again this year. The website says they are not affiliated with major league baseball.

The costs will ultimately trickle down to us -- so, if you think about it MLB is suing the fans.

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Postby Matthias » Thu Feb 16, 2006 3:54 pm

Not sure what you're basing that on, Madison.

Video game makers pay large amounts to the sports leagues to use the likenesses of their players. And are forced to exclude anyone who doesn't belong to the MLBPA (every once in a while, you'll see a noname #38 or what not in a baseball video game... that represents a player who scabbed during the '94 / '95 strike and so is denied membership forever into the MLBPA). In court, I would put money on the statistics being part of the public domain, but the statistics being tied to particular players playing for particular teams as a part of specifically Major League Baseball... those are intellectual property owned by, and only leasable by, MLB.

ESPN, SI, and what not are different to the extent that they're reporting the news. Granted, it's a commercial enterprise and they do make a fair profit at it, but it's still news-based. Not so for fantasy sports.

And Yoda, the MLBPA already struck a deal with MLB. Why would they circumvent it?
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Postby thinkspin » Thu Feb 16, 2006 3:55 pm

Madison wrote:I'm in the boat that says MLB doesn't own the players or their stats. They are public record as far as I'm concerned. Just look at how many sites have player stats on them. You don't see MLB going after those guys do you? They are just trying to cash in, but I'd bet Yahoo/Sportsline/etc., would win in a court case and not have to pay one red cent to MLB.


Yahoo/Sportsline/Espn/... don't have to worry as they are in cahoots with MLB. This is an attempt to squeeze the smaller players out of the market. CDM just won't go away that is all. And good for them.

Football could be next...
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Postby klvrdude » Thu Feb 16, 2006 4:38 pm

Ridiculous! This makes me want to :-P .

It's bad enough that players make tens of millions for playing a game (yes, I'm totally jealous) and consistently whine (e.g. Manny), but now MLB is in the mix?!?!? I guess it was only a matter of time.

It appears MLB's 4.1 billion dollars in revenue for 2004 and estimated 4.5 billion wasn't enough. Bastards.
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Postby Rotoworld » Thu Feb 16, 2006 5:06 pm

That isn't really true at all...

MLBAM bought the rights to redistribute the player licenses for 50 million in the winter of 2005. Last year they licensed up a bunch of people...and had a license for the under 5000 customer companies.

Nothing has been decided and CDM and MLBAM are going to court over this very matter. There are still many providers that has operated for over 20 years without licenses...
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Postby Rotoworld » Thu Feb 16, 2006 5:09 pm

and no one is in cahoots with MLBAM. Sure some companies that have tv rights are in a better bargaining position than others...but they are certainly paying the money to MLBAM.

i have heard MLBAM asking for 2+ million a year. However i sincerely doubt the big three are paying that without a tie into revenue - and even then it sounds absurd...
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