As was rumored for the last few months, Major League Baseball has announced that they're going to broadcast complete games online this season. In the past the two excuses for not doing so were that the technology wasn't good enough and that they didn't want to cut into local TV station revenue. Now, they believe the technology has advanced enough and enough people have broadband access that it will work. Furthermore, they're using some IP-location-tracking software to (try to) determine your location, and black out games of local teams, forcing people to watch them on TV. MLB believes that enough fans live outside the hometown of their favorite team, and will be willing to pay for the service. I'm not convinced. They're also charging $15/month to view the video on a tiny screen. Having experienced the problems MLB had offering audio, I'm not sure people will be happy paying $15/month to see a blank screen and the message "the game you want is currently not on", even when they know it is. Clearly, this is targeted at a tiny audience: only the most hardcore of fans who happen to not live in the same town as they're favorit team. This is a mistake for baseball. As they're losing fans to other sports, it seems fairly shortsighted to only target your products at the fans you've already got hooked. Being the first major sport in the US to show games online could be a great opportunity to win new fans. Instead, all MLB can do is think of ways to suck more money out of their biggest fans. I am definitely in the target audience they're aiming for, and even I don't think it's worth $15/month to watch choppy video of a game on a tiny screen.
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