Walker: Nearly 100 years ago, baseball almost banned broadcasts

From James Walker at SABRMedia.org on April 11, 2015:

On May 1, James Walker’s new book about the history of baseball radio broadcasts, “Crack of the Bat,” will be released. The article below, written by Dr. Walker, first appeared on the website The Conversation US.

In December 2011, when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Texas Rangers signed away their local television rights for about $3 billion apiece, the sport media heralded a new record for local television rights fees. Accounting for roughly 43% of MLB’s $8 billion haul in 2014, media revenues have made the players rich and the owners even richer.

Today, the idea that a team would ban its games from being broadcast is unthinkable, so ingrained are TV and radio contracts in the marketing and business practices of the sport.

But in 1921, when radios first began making their way into American homes, a number of baseball team owners weren’t quite sure what to make of the emerging technology. In fact, the owners were sharply divided over whether or not broadcasting games on the radio would benefit or deeply damage revenues. A 20-year battle among owners would ensue.

Read the full article here: http://sabrmedia.org/2015/04/11/nearly-100-years-ago-baseball-almost-banned-broadcasts/

Originally published: April 14, 2015. Last Updated: April 14, 2015.