March 10, 2018

MLB Cannot Do Anything Right (25 Games To Be Shown Exclusively On Facebook)

Major League Baseball is laughably inept. Everything they do to promote the game - almost without exception - manages to piss off a lot of people who are already fans, while the gain in new followers is dubious. (Perhaps "laughably" is the wrong word, since we love the sport and generally despise how MLB runs it. How about "sadly" or "as expected, based on past history"?)

MLB's latest attempt to "grow the game" is to allow Facebook the exclusive right to stream 25 games this season. Facebook will pay between $30-35 million for these rights, an agreement that was approved unanimously by team owners. The games will be shown on Facebook Watch, which is devoted to original programming. (Facebook aired 20 non-exclusive games last season*.)

The 25 games will be on weekday afternoons, primarily Wednesdays. Four April games have been announced: April 4 (Phillies/Mets), April 11 (Brewers/Cardinals), April 18 (Royals/Blue Jays), and April 26 (Diamondbacks/Phillies). During these broadcasts, Facebook will experiment with graphics and "enhancements popular with younger viewers drawn to digital platforms". That sounds extremely promising!

About those "younger viewers" ... Liz Roscher of SB Nation remains skeptical about the success of that angle:
MLB is desperately trying to gain the loyalty of younger fans, and going to Facebook just isn't the way to do that. While Facebook has a significant number of users in the 25-34 age range, the average user in the U.S. is over 40. ... It's [also] a move that's going to alienate some of the fans they already have. Those Facebook games are only available on Facebook, and not on any local TV network or even MLB.TV.
The big question is: Could MLB have been smart enough to avoid including games featuring teams with the largest fan bases, like the Red Sox and Yankees?

*: On May 19, 2017, Facebook attempted to stream its first game. However, "a manual error related to the geographic targeting of the game" meant fans in Washington, DC, were unable to watch. A Facebook representative: "Tonight's MLB broadcast on Facebook was unintentionally not made available to people in the Washington D.C. area. We apologize for the mistake ..."


FenFan said...

During these broadcasts, Facebook will experiment with graphics and "enhancements popular with younger viewers drawn to digital platforms".

Translation: it will be like watching your friends play MLB The Show on the Playstation 4, which is as annoying as that sounds.

Bonus: here's a link to the game trailer, which features plenty of shots of that right fielder from the MFY... what's his name again? Captain Intangibles Redux?

Jim said...

Strange, forgot to tell me this when I signed up for my 10th (or is it 11) season of MLB-TV. Must have slipped their mind. I didn't think it was possible but Manfred is worse than Selig. If I wasn't a hopeless Red Sox addict I'd be long gone.

Clem said...

It's easy for curmudgeons to strike down every new initiative, but MLB deserves some credit here. Even though a huge chunk of its business model is basically accepting gobs of money from the cable/satellite TV giants to keep the vast majority of its content behind expensive monthly TV packages, they've managed to make another, smaller gob of money to force fans who want to watch some specific games to sign up for and/or visit Facebook.

Also, love the BS about connecting with a younger audience. If that was really a priority, they would actually make the games available, for free or at a reasonable price, on a platform young people use for watching long-form content. MLB is far too in love with the model where everything is as expensive as possible in order to shake existing fans upside-down for every last penny.

allan said...

It's easy for curmudgeons to strike down every new initiative

Why, thank you!

FenFan said...

It's easy for curmudgeons to strike down every new initiative

The argument as presented here is that the statistics suggest that this "initiative" may not be in the best interest of baseball because the audience being targeted is not using the platform where these games will be shown. You're also penalizing the local audience who will be forced to use the alternate platform in lieu of the channel that they may be paying extra money to their local cable provider to watch these games.

Truth be told, I don't really enjoy all the "video game" graphics that are polluting these live broadcasts, many of which are intended to be vehicles for ad spots. It's information overload! Just the score is enough for me, thank you.

Now get off my lawn, whippersnapper! ;-)

allan said...

Having the broadcast be exclusive is the main sticking point for me. MLB wants to take a shitload of Facebook's money and show some games? Go right ahead. But let me see that same game on MLBTV, like always. (And like MLB agreed: I send them $120 or so and they make every game available to me during the regular season. Except now, that is not true.)

laura k said...

So MLB doesn't know that young people don't use their Facebook accounts because their parents and grandparents have taken over FB. But you can't show a game on Instagram, can you?

Also: what FenFan said.