Baseball Is Being Played, So Naturally...
The game is on! Spring training games began this past weekend and despite the best efforts of the few diehard fans left in this world, the game is still doing things wrong.
Number two on my list of things for Major League Baseball to do to improve the game is figure out a better format to get people to watch your games!!! ((Number one is the universal DH but I don't want to get into that right now.)) You are the premiere baseball league in the world where every great player from every country tries, at some point in their career to take a stab at "The Show".
Before I badger them for this EASY TO FIX problem, I will say they took a stride in the right direction creating their own database, Film Room. https://www.mlb.com/video/ . This is a highlight site that let's you type in a players name or a team name and you can see the video highlights and share them to your Facebook or Twitter feed. The big piece with it is THEY CONTROL the content. And that seems to be the biggest thing getting in baseball's way right now. They have a vision of control over their content that just isn't attainable in today's world and they need to get past it.
The first step to getting past it is allowing in market teams to be played on your own app! The NFL plays your teams game and a couple others for you, for free. MLB makes it's fans, the handful of us that are left, pay for MLB.tv to take in their product and yet, once you pay you can not see your local team. See this map right here.
This is a problem. Plain and simple. If people are paying for your product, it is 98% because they want an opportunity to see their local ball club swing the stick five or six days a week. Yet. You black them out on the app in their area. Not even just the city. Not just the state of the team. You block STATES. Plural. Multiple. Animals. Lunatics.
It's a strange world being a fan of MLB yet having to jump thru these hurdles just to take in a game on a Tuesday night in May. I get that there is probably some weird, underlying money issue behind the idea of blackouts but I can't fathom it being worth it in the long run. It has to be a deal that boils down to every club's hometown deal. Boston, for instance, has NESN host the Red Sox games that aren't nationally televised. The impact on their ratings from this could hurt the company. The Red Sox ownership won't like that and will voice their unhappiness to the Commish. The Commissioner doesn't want unhappy owners, blah, blah, blah. Again - I get it. It makes sense on the business-side. BUT the other side of the business side is just a grave being dug year-in and year-out.
I say all this knowing that I'm one of the lucky ones. I'd watch Rays/Royals in April just as much as I would Yankees/Red Sox in October. I'd lay in bed with the Pirates playing the Marlins until my eyes started to flutter on a balmy July night. I'm a true nerd for the game. But I also know when to separate how I feel and compare it to the masses. Self-awareness, if you will. And if MLB wants to start living by that silly phrase of "grow the game" and start moving in a direction that gets people young and old, interested in them again - they should start making this product easier to watch.
Most kids 18 and under are on their computers/phones more than anyone. A lot of their parents are making the jump to streaming services only and eliminating the cable services with the YES network or one of the Fox Sports regional affiliates. Therefore, games are now further away from them. Unless MLB can find a way to convince these local affiliates that the people they are trying to reach aren't watching on those local channels anyways, it seems we will be in this predicament for years to come.