Thursday’s Giants vs. Phillies game, already inconvenient due to its start time, will now be even more inconvenient, as it will be streamed exclusively through Facebook.
You can listen on KNBR or any affiliated stations, but you can’t stream the audio as you normally would via MLB’s paid audio streaming service.
But don’t worry! You can still follow the thrilling pitch-by-pitch updates!
If you want anything more than that, however, you’re going to have to head over to Facebook. And that, in my opinion, is ridiculous.
Perhaps this is an attempt by MLB to connect to the youths, however that notion is at least ten years out of date.
It’s true that Facebook is by and large the most widely used social media platform, however the majority of people age 18-24 primarily use platforms like Snapchat and Instagram instead. Which is not at all to say that MLB should attempt to stream a baseball game in 10-second increments. (Three snaps per pitch!) But it goes more to disprove the notion that streaming the game via social media will attract new fans from that demographic.
Additionally, there is a case to be made that offering free games available to viewers worldwide (mostly) without restrictions could entice new viewers. Maybe - but it’s anything but free.
First of all, you have to have a Facebook account in order to view the stream, and though it is free to sign up, there are plenty of people who do not have a Facebook account and do not want one. Not to mention the massive breach of privacy that took place on their watch, which caused many people to choose to cut ties with the social media platform altogether once it came to light.
Giants announced that Thursday's game is only available on Facebook. If you are inclined, you can watch Ty Blach vs. Vince Velasquez as all your data is being stolen.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) May 8, 2018
Additionally, after your free stream, if you want to continue to watch that baseball team you still have to fork up the money for an MLB.tv account (if out of market) or a cable subscription (if in-market) and guess what? When you do that, the next time they stream a game on Facebook, you won’t be able to watch it via the services you are now paying money for. Which is where the rest of us find ourselves going into Thursday’s game.
FWIW, folks, it's my understanding the teams have no say in this Facebook-only deal. The #phillies are going to be on their third Facebook game and they're not happy about it. It's an @mlb initiative. Just about every team will be victimized. #SFGiants— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) May 8, 2018
Sure, thankfully it’s only one game so far for us. And no, I don’t think it’s the end of the world. However it does seem to be a bit pointless. However, according to ESPN:
The deal comes at a time when leagues are worrying about cord-cutters causing a decrease in viewers among cable television networks.
Okay, but offering a free, one-time alternative doesn’t exactly seem like it’s going to solve that problem. Isn’t that theoretically driving more people away from watching the game on television, since, you know, they won’t be able to?
And splitting the rights to games out across various platforms, with no reliable way to watch all of the games seems more likely to drive even non-casual viewers away.
“What channel is the game on, Bob?”
“Well, it should be on NBC Sports Bay Area. Unless there’s a Warriors game, then it will be on The CW. Unless you’re out of market, then it’s on MLB.tv. Unless it’s a Tuesday, then it’ll be on Facebook. Except for every other Sunday when it’s on ESPN. Unless it’s a full moon, and then it’ll be on Twitter. That is as long as we’re not talking about a blue moon, and then it will be on Hulu.”
You know what would be more convenient? Having all of the games available to stream in one handy location. A streaming service available for either a monthly or annual fee to fans both in and out of market, to stream every game without blackout restrictions. And the money could be split between the network, the team, the league and the streaming service! Everybody wins. And they’re so close. They’re already there with the radio broadcasts.
But as with everything media-related these days, everyone wants to cut off their own piece of the pie, splintering content as they nickle and dime consumers into paying for multiple content streaming services per month.
If the goal is to attract more fans to the sport and keep them, even if they cut the cable cord, why on earth would MLB want to make it more difficult to watch the games?