Today on 810 WHB, afternoon host Kevin Kietzman is complaining about XM Radio's deal with Major League Baseball. WHB is the flagship station of the Kansas City Royals. They won the contract after the Royals' great 2003 season, and were hoping that the improved Royals would be a big boost for their ratings.
Instead, the Royals tanked in 2004 and 2005. They've mentioned that even bad baseball is good for ratings, but I'm sure the Royals aren't performing like they had hoped when they signed the contract.
Now, the folks have WHB have learned that XM radio is offering access to their programming without blackout protection. The problem, according to WHB, is that since XM is installed in new cars and free subscriptions are included when purchasing a new car, more and more people are listening to Royals broadcasts without listening to WHB. This means that the advertisers are not reaching the audience they thought they would. In television, this is corrected by blackout rules. Even with the MLB Extra Innings package, I cannot watch a Royals game if it is available on a local station. This protects the advertisers who purchased ad time on that local station.
With satellite radio, there is really no way to implement blackouts. Which means I could listen to the Royals either on WHB or on XM. Or, if the Royals game is a blowout, I can choose any other game to listen to. WHB would like to have been the only baseball available.
So, is this bad for local radio? Maybe. Kevin Kietzman on WHB says the XM deal “stinks.” Of course it does, since he is a co-owner of the station. But if he were a regular baseball fan like me, I think his opinion would be quite different. I love it! I'm still a Royals fan, so I'll listen to WHB to get my Royals coverage; even the game broadcasts since I'm not always in an area where I can recieve the XM signal. But as a fan, I love being able to choose any game I like when the Royals have an off day.
I can see WHB's beef, but I can't agree that it “stinks.”