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Cable-MLB Talks Still in Extra Innings

With the second day of the 2007 Major League Baseball season winding down, the league continues to hammer out a deal with In Demand that could see cable operators distribute its Extra Innings subscription out-of-market game package.

Following the $700 million deal DirecTV reached with MLB last month, the top direct-broadcast satellite provider remains the only pay TV distributor marketing the Extra Innings package to subscribers. EchoStar Communications and cable operators affiliated with In Demand carried the games in previous years.

But In Demand spokeswoman Ellen Cooper said late Tuesday that the pay-per-view content supplier and MLB continue to negotiate a deal.

“We were hoping and expecting that there could be a deal done the last couple of days. Both sides are involved, and they’re continuing to talk,” Cooper said.

The delay gives DirecTV a competitive advantage over rivals such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and other major cable operators, which can’t market Extra Innings to baseball fans until a deal is sealed.

But if an agreement is reached, In Demand said it is prepared to supply the games to cable operators immediately. “We would be ready, technically within an hour,” Cooper said.

The league agreed to extend talks with In Demand last week, under pressure from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).