U.K. MLB coverage in 2013

The 2013 MLB season is just about to begin. Established baseball fans will already have their calendars arranged around the key dates, but newcomers may be unsure quite how comprehensively they can follow a regular season of 2430 games, plus the drama of the playoffs, from the other side of the Atlantic.

Thankfully there are various different ways in which you can enjoy the season ahead from the U.K.

Plenty of live games at a convenient time 

Baseball fans soon get used to following games at all hours, but you don’t have to sacrifice sleep to enjoy the sport.

The time difference between the States and the U.K. means that games played during the day over there – normally with a 1 p.m. local start time – take place during the evening here. Most games on Sundays are played in sunlight, with a handful played at the same time on Saturday and several across the working week. You can read more about the week-day ‘early’ games played in 2012 in our two-part review (pt 1pt 2).

One of the features we provide here is a weekly guide to the games being played at a convenient time for us in the U.K., giving you all the details so that you can plan your baseball schedule for the week ahead.

TV coverage

MLB TV coverage in Britain comes courtesy of ESPN America, with the halcyon days of free-to-air coverage on Five sadly behind us (although hopefully to return one day).

ESPN America provides a good selection of games all season long, normally somewhere in the region of 8-10 live games per week.

The one complicating factor this season is that the existing ESPN subscription package will change during the summer – the actual expected date is 1 August – when the BT Sports programming launches. BT recently bought up all of the ESPN UK rights, including MLB. They currently intend to continue with at least one ESPN branded channel and that is the likely place for MLB coverage from 1 August onwards.

We don’t yet know precisely what the BT Sports packages will contain, how much they will cost and all of the providers they will be available from. BT hasn’t yet come to an agreement to sell their channels through Virgin Media and their public comments suggest the two sides are not particularly close to coming to a deal. There’s still plenty of time for that to be resolved prior to August, but existing ESPN America subscribers via Virgin Media should be aware that it’s not yet certain whether they will be able to continue to watch MLB through their current provider from 1 August onwards.

Radio coverage

The spirit of the good old ‘Baseball on 5’ show thankfully is alive and well due to the BBC’s continued support of MLB on 5 Live Sports Extra.

Nat Coombs and Josh Chetwynd will present live coverage throughout the season, typically one game per week on a Thursday evening, with some Sunday evening games thrown in for good measure alongside the All-Star Game in July and every game of the World Series in October.

The commentary is provided by one of the two respective team’s local radio network, offering up plenty of characters over the course of the season. Nat and Josh analyse the game and all of the latest MLB news in between innings, interacting with fans via Twitter and the Show’s Facebook page.

Baseball, just like cricket, works really well on the radio and listening to a game is a great way to unwind during the evening. 5 Live Sports Extra is available on DAB radio and TV, with U.K. residents normally being able to listen online via the BBC website too.

Online

If you want to watch and listen to lots of baseball – and why wouldn’t you – then the online subscriptions available from MLB.com are like manna from heaven.

An MLB.TV subscription allows you to watch all 2430 regular season games and the playoffs, live or on-demand. Full details about the packages available, and the devices on which MLB.TV works in the U.K., can be found in our guide to the 2013 MLB.TV subscriptions.

Today (Saturday 30 March) MLB.com is offering free previews of MLB.TV, giving fans a chance to test their broadband/PC/mobile device set-up. In previous seasons they have also offered a ‘Free Game of the Day’ during week-days that provide another chance to test out the service before committing to buying a subscription.

So long as you’ve got a decent broadband package, chances are that once you test MLB.TV you’ll be hooked. It’s the perfect way to follow the whole season, whether you’re watching teams throughout the Majors or just concentrating on your chosen team’s fortunes.

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6 Responses to U.K. MLB coverage in 2013

  1. James March 31, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    Thanks for another excellent article, finally got a MLB subscription sorted midway through last season so am looking forward to watching my first full season.

    I have a question – do you know of anywhere where you can watch any winterball online? Would have loved to see some baseball from other parts of the world during the MLB off-season.

    Cheers.

  2. Irrum April 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    It will be a shame to effectively see the end of ESPN America. Whatever BT do with their ‘branded’ ESPN channel will probably result in very limited MLB. NBA, MLS, NASCAR, foreign football and rugby alongside the WTA will probably result in the maximum of one game a week at best. All the sports are worth covering but not if you only get a hint of the sport. US sports aren’t popular in the UK so I would assume they will show only the sports that might get viewers. I am unlikely to subscribe unless they try to bid for NFL rights over the vastly over expensive Sky. I will subscribe to MLB TV, NFL Gamepass, NBA Gametime and NHL Gamecenter. It’s just a shame that I have to pay 4 times for dedicated coverage rather than pay for one channel to show most of it (including great sports talk shows).

  3. Chuck Kopsho April 6, 2013 at 5:28 am #

    To the British people who watch baseball across the pond, you’ll love baseball once you learn the in’s and outs of the game, you’ll get used to it. It’s a game that at times will try your patience. I live in Oceanside, California, just 35 miles north of Downtown San Diego where Petco Park lies. The San Diego Padres play there. It’s a beautiful stadium with practically all the amenities. It seats 45,000 fans which is usually a sell-out. Come out to the states and see baseball where it was born.

    • Matt Smith April 6, 2013 at 9:20 am #

      Hi Chuck. Thanks for the message. Petco Park and San Diego definitely looks like a great location for a baseball vacation.

  4. Mike October 13, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    A great article. Thank you

    I would however, disagree with you that American sports are not popular over here as I think the NFL/NBA has a major following in the UK. I would say MLB and NHL is followed as much.

    Out of the four I think MLB is the best by far. I wouldn’t of said ithat a month ago mind you but have just got back from 3 weeks in Florida and one of my goals was to catch and American sport of some kind. I was hell bent on watching NFL but where ever I was in Florida at the time each team was on the road.

    But when I was Miami baseball presented itself and got to watch the Marlins in their last home Friday (3-2 win against Detroit) night game. I even met the relief pitcher No.24 Nathan Evoladi which was nice. I am now hooked on baseball over NFL it is by far a better sport and now having been live to MLB. It is way better value (I paid $20) and more going on in the way of constant action but then you all know this.

    The staduim was awesome Marlins park was out of this world. You could see the action from anywhere and walk 360 degrees right around. You can even see what’s going on from the various consessions around the staduim.

    I am now hooked on MLB and planning my next US trip to catch MLB.

  5. Marlon Jones June 12, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for this article. I wondered whether it’s ever possible to listen directly to streams from U.S. stations that air baseball games. I was trying to listen to the Giants game just now, but they seem to be playing a repeated loop of some kind of pre-game interview. Is the stream modified somehow outside the States? BBC 5 doesn’t seem to have any baseball on this Thursday, either.

    Marlon

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