MLB To Show Games Online, Blacking Out Local Teams

from the disaster-waiting-to-happen? dept

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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Comments on “MLB To Show Games Online, Blacking Out Local Teams”

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Chris (user link) says:

No Subject Given

I am planning on buying the audio streams this year. I think baseball is better on the radio anyway. I’m going to put a small FM transmiter on the headphone jack of my sound card so I can sit on my deck and listen to the Red Sox games on the radio. I would never pay 15/mo for choppy video on I suspect this will fail miserably.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: No Subject Given

I’ve grudgingly bought the radio subscription the past two years, though I was grandfathered in at the $10 per *year* rate, as opposed to the $20 they’ll be charging this year. I’ll probably do that again as well. I like the idea of video, and probably would have done it if it were a bit cheaper… but I can’t justify $15/month for a bad product.

I’m going to test out their free broadcasts of spring training games, but I doubt it will change my mind.

If I really wanted video, I’d pay about the same rate for a DirecTV subscription to MLB so I could watch on my TV.

dorpus says:

Spectator Sports Syndrome

Spectator sports are a victim of their own cliquishness. Unless one grew up watching the sport, the barriers to entry are high. Depending on the league, which tournament, and time of day, there are elaborate rules for what happens when the ball falls on the line, when an athlete’s foot is on the line, when one foot is outside the line, when an athlete touches the ball more than once with an instrument or arm. Then there are hundreds of individual athletes or coaches whose names, statistics, and reputations have to be memorized; names of moves, who set the precedent for them, what kinds of ball spins are “legal”, what kind of turf is in which stadium.

If an uninitiated adult asks questions about these things, the usual response is loud ridicule. At best, sports fans will ignore the uninitiated and shout across their ear to someone else in the room. The demographics of spectator sports is weighted toward working class men, with the attendant xenophobia.

Not surprisingly, spectator sports are becoming less popular. Those who aspire to join higher classes keep their distance from beer-swilling chums. In the old days before professionalism took over sports, athletes were expected to behave like gentlemen and were regarded as models of civility, virtue, and eminence; today’s athletes are basically a bunch of thugs. We’re becoming a world where personality worship is out, people who win fights are regarded as losers anyway. Spectator sports is likely to continue its downward slide as an outlet for lower classes.

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