The major league baseball strike, now in its third week, is having an obvious financial impact on merchants who depend directly on the game for customers. But there are some other unlikely "victims."
Among the wounded are firms that provide sports statistics to the media and to fantasy baseball leagues. Microsoft Corp., which earlier this summer launched a multimedia CD-ROM reference product called "Complete Baseball," has had to scramble to fill up a related dial-in computer service stripped of its daily diet of game summaries and box scores.Product manager David Malcolm says the company doesn't yet know how the strike will affect "Complete Baseball."
Intended to be available at the beginning of the season, the CD-ROM didn't reach shelves until the middle of June. The $60 product still exceeded expectations.
"We have positioned the product as the survivor's guide for fans suffering through withdrawal," Malcolm said hopefully.
But Microsoft definitely will be losing money on its dial-up computer service. For $1.25 per day, people could link their computers by modem and download up-to-date baseball information. When the strike began, Microsoft decided to waive the fee and, instead of stats, is offering free updates on baseball labor negotiations.
Redmond-based Nintendo of America Inc. unveiled its "Ken Griffey Jr. Presents: Major League Baseball" in time for the season opener. Sales spiked whenever the Mariners phenom would punch out a home run.
"We've been a little bit discouraged, obviously, to see the season truncated," said George Harrison, director of marketing for Nintendo. But he quickly added that sales of the baseball game have not fallen off appreciably since the strike began.