In one of the more disappointing things we’ve seen out of them lately, MLB is reportedly requesting that iTunes pull several team-related podcasts from their service. Among the affected podcasts are Twins podcast Gleeman and the Geek (hosted by Aaron Gleeman of NBC Sports), Pirates podcast Pirates Prospects, a second Twins podcast in Talk to Contact, Mets podcast Mets Musings, Cubs podcast Bleacher Nation, and Yankees podcast It’s About the Yankees, Stupid, among many others.
For as many strides as MLBAM has made in recent years, this is a massive step in the wrong direction. Many of these podcasts have been around for years and have large, devoted fanbases – what’s with the sudden, ridiculous crackdown? MLB.com’s team-based podcast empire is nonexistent, so I’d assume this is going to lead into a new surge of largely awful, beat writer hosted podcasts that spout the company line and don’t offer any real insight. How unbelievably ridiculous is it that MLB is silencing fans from talking about their favorite team?
The sad thing is that this has happened before with MLB, back in the early days of Twitter. Back in 2010, MLBAM sent a cease and desist order to a Cubs website and podcast called CubsCast, and the points made in the open letter written by the host of that show three and a half years ago still ring shockingly true today. Pulling down fan-hosted team podcasts does nothing aside from make MLB look awful. What’s next, going after blogs? The hook is apparently “unauthorized usage of a team name”, which is understandable but incredibly petty.
Needless to say, Twitter isn’t exactly in a good mood about this situation, and its users are going to town on MLB. Here’s an abbreviated Real Tweets from Real People, skewering Major League Baseball for acting silly.
And so on and so forth. Whatever MLB was trying to accomplish here blew up in its face. If you’re slow to adapt, you’re going to get burned.
But here’s the funny part – there are still many independent podcasts with team names in the titles that haven’t been pulled (yet, at least). If you’re going to wield the hammer of doom, shouldn’t you wield it on everyone instead of picking and choosing which podcasts to smash to bits?
Then again, using logic was never one of MLB’s strong points. Today represents a serious black eye for the league and how it treats its most devoted fans.
UPDATE: Here’s an e-mail we received from one of the podcasters who had their show pulled by iTunes today at the request of MLB. Ted Price has hosted Rangers Podcast in Arlington since 2008. When you try to access RPIA in iTunes, an error message comes up saying it is not available. You can listen to the podcast at its web link.
Hi there – I started the show in 2008 – back when the Rangers weren’t very good and finding intelligent conversation about the team was hard to come by – and have done 73 shows. I’ve had players, announcers, beat writers etc on the show from time to time. But mostly it’s a roundtable discussion with other fans. Never had amy complaints or red flags for inappropriate content, and I had support from many inside the Ranger organization.I make no money from these shows. It’s a cliche, but it really is a labor of love to have a chance to get together with other fans and talk about our favorite teams. We were critical at times, but no more than your typical sports-talk show. If anything it’s free advertising for the team and the MLB brand.I know there are other places I can use to get my show out to the public, but 90-95% of my downloads come form iTunes. I average 10-15,000 downloads an episode.
UPDATE II: MLBAM has released a statement on the podcasts getting pulled. Via Hardball Talk. It certainly raises some more questions about what’s transpired seeing as how MLBAM is trying to place the blame on Apple for pulling the podcasts after a trademark request:
As we have done in the past, yesterday we notified Apple (see below) about certain podcasts on the iTunes Store whose titles and/or thumbnails include infringing uses of trademarks of Major League Baseball and certain Clubs. And, as we have done in the past, we asked Apple to have these trademarks removed from the podcast titles and thumbnails. Although we did not ask for or seek to have any podcast removed from the Store, it has come to our attention that Apple removed them. Given our many years of experience in notifying Apple about trademark issues on the Store, we trust that removing the podcasts was an oversight, and ask that you please look into this matter as soon as possible.