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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hiestand: MLB could alienate some fans with latest TV move

Odds that politicians will try to make this a issue: 100% (Politicians are like that).

Occasionally, businesses make innocuous-sounding moves that are guaranteed to inflame at least a few of their most loyal customers.

It happened Thursday as Major League Baseball announced its own MLB Network, in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons, will air two division series games. Also, the two new wild-card games will air on TBS— no surprise, since TBS has carried all division series playoff action anyway until now. (Refresher: division series are best of five. The wild-card games pit teams from each league in single-game knockouts.)

So what? While MLBN will be the first league-owned channel to carry postseason action, NFL Network has aired regular-season games since 2006. The NFL turned down what might have been $400 million annually in network rights fees to instead keep games for its own channel to boost the channel’s visibility.

But MLBN’s playoff games will have a key difference. The NFL insists its cable games on NFLN and ESPN also air on TV in the home markets of teams in the games. MLB won’t allow that.

Talk about alienating some fans. Consider that about 60% of U.S. households get MLBN — 69 million of the USA’s 114 million TV households — so imagine what’s going to happen when, say, 40% of local fans won’t see their home team. In New York, that would mean nearly 3 million TV households would be shut out. No doubt they’ll take it quietly.

Gamingboy Posted: May 17, 2012 at 11:26 PM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mlb_network, playoffs, tbs, television

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. God Posted: May 18, 2012 at 05:57 AM (#4134657)
I get the MLB Network, so it doesn't affect me, but this does seem like a really petty move on MLB's part.
   2. boteman Posted: May 18, 2012 at 06:05 AM (#4134659)
I think these games should be blacked out. You know, like...uh...to be consistent and all that. Yeah, that's the ticket!
   3. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 18, 2012 at 06:19 AM (#4134662)
I get the MLB Network, so it doesn't affect me, but this does seem like a really petty move on MLB's part.

It's the Marvelous Market at work.
   4. Leroy Kincaid Posted: May 18, 2012 at 07:22 AM (#4134669)
I get the MLB network but rarely watch. I'll be switching providers this summer and likely won't get the MLB network by the time the post-season starts. So does it affect me if I don't care?
   5. God Posted: May 18, 2012 at 07:32 AM (#4134672)
I'm surprised there's anyone on this site who gets it but doesn't watch. I have it on all the time. Even with all the other viewing options these days, it's fanfuckingtastic if you're a baseball fan.
   6. frannyzoo Posted: May 18, 2012 at 08:22 AM (#4134693)
As often happens, I'm must disagree with God. I want to like MLBN, but the bouncing around and low-quality of "talent" makes that very difficult. Moreover, MLB.TV makes MLBN completely unnecessary. Anything that simply shows a "COMMERCIAL BREAK" title card instead of commercials is the greatest thing in the history of forever. Well, that and being able to watch four games simultaneously.
   7. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: May 18, 2012 at 08:27 AM (#4134694)
I'm surprised there's anyone on this site who gets it but doesn't watch. I have it on all the time. Even with all the other viewing options these days, it's fanfuckingtastic if you're a baseball fan.


At the risk of sounding like snapper, God is right. It's not perfect but it's pretty damned good. They do many things well but two that really appeal to me are;

1. They cover all 30 teams. You'd think this would be obvious but after years of ESPN and Fox "Come watch the Red Sox and Yankees farm teams; the Tampa Bays and the Cleveland Browns!" it's a nice feature.

2. They like baseball. This is another thing you wouldn't think would be that difficult but it's the biggest difference I see in the coverage between MLB and NFL on the other networks. It seems that baseball coverage on other networks always needs to point out the warts and flaws of baseball but everything in football is hunky-dory (changing a bit with concussion issues perhaps). I'm not saying I need Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House but announcers who are enjoying what they do and sharing that enjoyment with the viewers is more pleasant to watch. When Joe Magrane gushes about Stephen Strasburg, you get a sense of what a big deal Strasburg is.
   8. Dale Sams Posted: May 18, 2012 at 09:30 AM (#4134729)
Anything that simply shows a "COMMERCIAL BREAK" title card instead of commercials is the greatest thing in the history of forever


How do you turn the commercials off??? I mean, I can turn the monitor off. Walk away.

so imagine what’s going to happen when, say, 40% of local fans won’t see their home team. In New York, that would mean nearly 3 million TV households would be shut out.


Oh, who wants to see the Yanks beat by the Orioles anyway?
   9. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: May 18, 2012 at 09:59 AM (#4134770)

2. They like baseball. This is another thing you wouldn't think would be that difficult but it's the biggest difference I see in the coverage between MLB and NFL on the other networks. It seems that baseball coverage on other networks always needs to point out the warts and flaws of baseball but everything in football is hunky-dory (changing a bit with concussion issues perhaps). I'm not saying I need Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House but announcers who are enjoying what they do and sharing that enjoyment with the viewers is more pleasant to watch. When Joe Magrane gushes about Stephen Strasburg, you get a sense of what a big deal Strasburg is.


A whole lot of this. Fox's playoff coverage would be worlds better if somebody other than Joe Buck (i.e. someone who actually enjoyed baseball) were calling the game. Quiero Bob Costas.

I do think it's less-than-stellar of MLB to move games to the network, but then, I think MLB should push to have as many games on broadcast as possible. I frankly think it makes more sense to sell the AL and NL regular season rights separately to increase visibility, even if it means a little less money. That way you'd have the FOX AL Game of the Week and the NBC NL Game of the Week. And, again, Costas.
   10. zack Posted: May 18, 2012 at 10:19 AM (#4134792)
Since I started getting MLBN (and the NHL network, not that ESPN knows what those letters mean), I haven't turned on sportscenter once. My only gripe is the seemingly random selection and length of live-look-ins. That and Amsinger's voice.

Plus it means I get to occasionaly hear Vin Scully on my TV, and that's priceless.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 18, 2012 at 10:54 AM (#4134836)
I frankly think it makes more sense to sell the AL and NL regular season rights separately to increase visibility, even if it means a little less money. That way you'd have the FOX AL Game of the Week and the NBC NL Game of the Week.


YES! That would be awesome.

Is there a way to get MLBN content online? MLBtv? Do they put any of their shows online?
   12. How Flounder got here, he hasn't a clue. Posted: May 18, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4134840)
Since I started getting MLBN (and the NHL network, not that ESPN knows what those letters mean), I haven't turned on sportscenter once. My only gripe is the seemingly random selection and length of live-look-ins. That and Amsinger's voice.

Plus it means I get to occasionaly hear Vin Scully on my TV, and that's priceless.


It seems to me that they are generally allowed to cut in to a game for no more than two batters. Or am I imagining that?

I will also echo the point that most of their talent seems to enjoy baseball. Plesac in particular makes it mreo fun to watch.

Plus they have Brian Kenny, who is great, imo.
   13. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: May 18, 2012 at 11:14 AM (#4134869)
My only gripe is the seemingly random selection and length of live-look-ins.


I find that a feature, not a bug. I feel like they do a nice balancing of just randomly keeping you up to date while making sure the big stuff gets done. I knew I'd be able to see the Bryce Harper at bats early on but at the same time if the Cubs are threatening in San Diego, they'll go to it.
   14. base ball chick Posted: May 18, 2012 at 11:24 AM (#4134880)
mlb network does not come with standard cable

they MUST know that most households do not get mlbn so all this means is that they lose that huge casusal fan audience for 2 playoff games, not sure why they want that

whatevs
   15. boteman Posted: May 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4134895)
I frankly think it makes more sense to sell the AL and NL regular season rights separately to increase visibility, even if it means a little less money.

Bud Selig's ears shut down after the "less money" part. Of course, I wouldn't want to be confused with Whitey Herzog. Now get off my lawn! Darn kids!

MLB Network is golden. My local watering hole has about a dozen TVs scattered around the bar and having MLB Network on guarantees that you won't miss something, even while the owner (from Bahhhhston) is guaranteed to have the Red Sox game on here in south Florida.

Agree with the other comments expressing love for MLBN. Despite their obvious shortcomings when it comes to "analysis", the retired jocks do come in handy when it comes to describing what might be going on behind the scenes in a particular game situation or offering a tutorial on alternatives to covering second base in the same situation that just played out minutes earlier during a live look-in.
   16. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: May 18, 2012 at 11:56 AM (#4134917)
I was actually going to dig up an appropriate thread to ask this, but now I don't have to--MLB.TV doesn't provide any playoff coverage, does it?
   17. base ball chick Posted: May 18, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4134924)
by the way

in case any of all yall haven't seen BBTN recently

they have doug glanville on most nights now, not much of kruk or some other annoying person. mulder is ok and so is garciaparra. they now have jose cruz, jr, too. so the shows with doug in them are pretty good. doug is teh awesomeness

shows with rick sutcliffe are just irritating so off he goes
   18. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 18, 2012 at 12:07 PM (#4134938)
They continue to devalue the playoffs, so this is the logical next step.
   19. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: May 18, 2012 at 12:23 PM (#4134960)
Bud Selig's ears shut down after the "less money" part. Of course, I wouldn't want to be confused with Whitey Herzog. Now get off my lawn! Darn kids!


Well, less from TV rights in the hope that increased exposure would mean added revenue through other sources (bigger ticket gates, greater social awareness.) MLB doesn't have anywhere near the media saturation the NFL does, and even though I feel like the NFL is slightly oversaturated, there's still plenty of room between that and where MLB is.
   20. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: May 18, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4134971)
My only gripe is the seemingly random selection and length of live-look-ins.


Really? I feel like this has made life without MLB Extra Innings doable. If the game is happening between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m., you're pretty much guaranteed to see how every run scores within minutes of it happening. And they do an excellent job of "going inside the ballpark" in situations where there's a high probability of a run scoring or something critical happening (i.e. the final outs of the game).

And they do this frequently enough that you're able to get a strong idea of what each team's broadcast crew is like, since the MLB Tonight crew will often give way to the game's feed instead of talking over it.

The MLB Tonight regulars are pretty great, too. Yeah, you've got blowhards like Billy Ripken and Mitch Williams (though I fully own up to Williams being a guilty pleasure of mine), but like others have said, everyone seems to genuinely enjoy the game of baseball. Some of my fondest moments of Game 162 night last year were the candid reactions from Harold Reynolds and Dan Plesac as they watched the events unfold.
   21. Hack Wilson Posted: May 18, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4134978)
shows with rick sutcliffe are just irritating so off he goes


I agree but I have become a fan of Aaron Boone and he and Sutcliffe always seem to be on together. And contrary to most people here I find Kruk entertaining in small doses.

As to MLB when I had it (with Direct TV) I watched it constantly. I now have AT&T cable and could add it with a sports package for not much but I do not follow any other sport in the package and I have a stack of a dozen books plus many more on a growing list that I want to read before I die, so I am going to pass.
   22. I am going to be Frank Posted: May 18, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4134988)
All they are trying to do is force the 40% of cable operators who don't carry it or don't have it on a basic tier to carry it. More money is to be made that way.
   23. BDC Posted: May 18, 2012 at 01:00 PM (#4135004)
MLB.TV doesn't provide any playoff coverage, does it?

From the mlb.tv website: "Postseason.TV: Subscribers to Postseason.TV, available only during the MLB Postseason, will be able to view live alternative video feeds (excluding the broadcast feed) from MLB Postseason games without blackout restrictions."

I subscribed to the postseason.tv option last year, and it was just wonderful. You can stay on the home-plate angle for the whole game; for people who hate the constant quick-cutting from the pitcher's nose to the hot chick in the stands to the manager to the pitcher's nose to the couple praying for a hit to the hot chick, it's just fabulous.
   24. Delino DeShields & Yarnell Posted: May 18, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4135066)
MLBN will be the first league-owned channel to carry postseason action

This is incorrect. NBA TV had some exclusive first round action recently. Though I guess technically, it is more like a Turner affiliate.
   25.     Hey Gurl Posted: May 18, 2012 at 01:59 PM (#4135072)
Anything that simply shows a "COMMERCIAL BREAK" title card instead of commercials is the greatest thing in the history of forever.


I wish they would do something a bit more, actually. Why not put up the boxscore, or some stats or something? Some news from around the league?
   26. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: May 18, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4135088)
Since I started getting MLBN (and the NHL network, not that ESPN knows what those letters mean), I haven't turned on sportscenter once.

Second this. It's all NHL Network for me right now. The Kings! My God, the Kings! I didn't think I would live long enough to enjoy something like this! 10 years of season tickets all is worth it for this one magical run!. Wait, where was I?

Oh, MLBN. Yeah, who wants to wade through 20 minutes of what's wrong with the Heat talk on the four letter to get a few crappy highlights? And now I get that MLB Strike Zone channel which is completely addicting. Good times.
   27. Jim Furtado Posted: May 18, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4135161)
I've been watching the MLB Network more and more. I don't love every show but overall it's pretty good baseball coverage. I'm not too thrilled that Clubhouse Confidential is off the schedule, however. (Does anyone know whether this is permanent?) Plus, where else are you going to catch Sean Forman on TV?
   28. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: May 18, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4135171)
Between a bad flu bug and some technical issues in the office, I spent about 50% of this week at home, and approximately 100% of the time I was home (alone) I had MLBN on in the backgound. It was the first time I had ever experienced Intentional Talk, and - don't stone me for this - even that was not so aggressively bad that I had to turn it off, which is what I had been expecting.

There is almost literally nothing better than having MLB Tonight on in the background all day and Quick Pitch before bed.
   29. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: May 18, 2012 at 03:40 PM (#4135177)
I've been watching the MLB Network more and more. I don't love every show but overall it's pretty good baseball coverage. I'm not too thrilled that Clubhouse Confidential is off the schedule, however. (Does anyone know whether this is permanent?) Plus, where else are you going to catch Sean Forman on TV?


I think the idea was that it was an off-season show (like Hot Stove Tonight). I don't know if it is definitely coming back next year but it certainly seemed popular enough and Kenny is high profile enough on the network that I suspect it will be on the schedule.
   30. geonose Posted: May 18, 2012 at 03:59 PM (#4135216)
...I fully own up to Williams being a guilty pleasure of mine...

Williams cracks me up, even though I don't like most of his particular brand of analysis and disagree with 99% of his opinions. Harold Reynolds, on the other hand, has all of Williams' qualities without the humor, so therefore I can't stand watching him.

I'm not too thrilled that Clubhouse Confidential is off the schedule, however. (Does anyone know whether this is permanent?)

I think that it's an offseason-only show, so as Jose of the Sea said, bet on it coming back.
   31. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: May 18, 2012 at 04:01 PM (#4135218)
From the mlb.tv website: "Postseason.TV: Subscribers to Postseason.TV, available only during the MLB Postseason, will be able to view live alternative video feeds (excluding the broadcast feed) from MLB Postseason games without blackout restrictions."


Thanks, Bob. But this seems to mean there's a separate subscription fee for Postseason.TV (catchy name, by the way--Don Draper must have thought that up). After coughing up a hundred bucks for the year, it would be a teensy ripoff to have to shell out $X extra right when the games mean the most. And when there are fewer to watch, come to think of it.
   32. Leroy Kincaid Posted: May 18, 2012 at 10:32 PM (#4135535)
I subscribed to mlb.tv from the beginning, I think (5 years ago?). Not doing it this year mostly due to the fact that my laptop doesn't have enough video memory to handle it (it eventually uses 100% of CPU, overheats, and then freezes) what with all their "upgrades". Wish they would just go back to letting you use WMP. What's the obsession with Flash?
   33. Dan Posted: May 19, 2012 at 01:51 AM (#4135595)
I subscribed to mlb.tv from the beginning, I think (5 years ago?).

MLB.tv has been around for 9 years I believe. I first had it in 2003, and I think it was new then.
   34. Xander Posted: May 19, 2012 at 09:22 AM (#4135647)
Ah, yes. The heady days of early MLB.tv. When you could listen to back-call of the announcers embarrasing themselves in between innings. Those were the days.
   35. Leroy Kincaid Posted: May 19, 2012 at 12:10 PM (#4135735)
MLB.tv has been around for 9 years I believe. I first had it in 2003, and I think it was new then.

OK. Then I started a few years after that.
   36. Baldrick Posted: May 19, 2012 at 02:07 PM (#4135783)
Yeah, I had it in 2004 and didn't really like it. Quality was low, it didn't run well on my computer, etc. So I never bought it again until this year. And now it's freaking amazing. It blows my mind how much baseball I can watch now, how crisp the picture is, the options for watching multiple games at the same time, the alerts, etc. I love all the bells and whistles and as a moderate luddite, that's rare for me.

For a few days it showed commercials during the breaks (the same 4 or 5 over and over and over and over) but once I figured out how to block those, it's been simply wonderful.

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