BT Sport and MLB: the latest details

The official promotional launch of the new BT Sport service today didn’t offer much in the way of answers for MLB fans wondering how their sport will be covered from 1 August.

We know that BT Sport has acquired ESPN’s MLB broadcasting rights as part of the ESPN UK/America deal and they are likely to be the only TV channel option for watching MLB for the foreseeable future.

BT will be offering two BT Sport channels alongside an ESPN channel as part of a bundle subscription package.

No details have been disclosed as to how the sports rights portfolio will be divided between those channels (except for the FA Cup games that will be on ESPN due to the terms of the existing contract with the FA), but the BT Sport channels will probably host the majority of their main content (Premier League football, Rugby, Tennis, MotoGP from 2014 etc), with any MLB programming likely to be on the new ESPN channel.

MLB is not the least bit prominent in BT Sport’s promotional info. Whether that might foreshadow a slight reduction in the number of live games available compared to the current amount on ESPN America remains to be seen. The fact that BT has two main channels, as compared to the current ESPN UK’s one, offers hope that there will still be plenty of broadcasting space for a good number of MLB games on the ESPN channel.

The only confirmed news we have is in regard to the subscription price details for BT and Sky customers. BT Broadband customers will get the channels for free, whilst Sky subscribers will pay £12 per month.

BT and Virgin Media are still yet to come to an agreement to sell the BT Sport package, the sticking point seemingly being BT’s desire to sell the channel directly to Virgin Media subscribers rather than the sale being conducted through Virgin Media (Sky have already agreed to this, so Sky subscribers would need to contact BT to get the BT Sport package added when it becomes available).

BT Sport will start broadcasting from 1 August, with current subscribers to the ESPN package seeing their subscription come to an end on 31 July. We know this new sports bundle will become the new home for MLB TV coverage in the U.K., but we still don’t really know what the house will be like when MLB fans start moving in.

, , ,

51 Responses to BT Sport and MLB: the latest details

  1. Donna May 9, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    Just been watching the promos on the new BT Sports channel on sky 413/4 and they just mentioned they would be covering MLB. No mention of how much coverage tho.

    • Matt Smith May 10, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

      Thanks for that info, Donna. Good to know!

  2. barry May 10, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    Just phoned BT on their advertised number 0800 756 7566 (no clear options for BT Sport, just keep going as if ordering and you eventually reach a human). They seem as confused as their advertising is re MLB. When I said the website ‘full line-up’ of sports did not have MLB, I was told that that meant no MLB. When I said the channel promos (eg on Sky 413) expressly stated ‘live MLB’, I was told that this must mean they would be showing MLB.

    I (as one who has followed MLB through many channels from C4 and Screensport in 80s and 90s) said that there would be a small but potentially significant niche market of those of us who might subscribe solely or mainly because of MLB coverage, esp those already with ESPN for that reason, so they should clarify asap.

    Suggest as many others of similar view make their views known to BT by phone, Twitter etc ASAP!

    • Matt Smith May 10, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

      Hi Barry

      Always worth letting companies know there’s an interest (in a polite encouraging way, of course).

      My understanding is that there’s no doubt that BT has the rights to MLB, there’s simply confusion because BT aren’t promoting it as major pulling card compared to all the football, rugby, tennis rights etc (unsurprisingly, if we take our baseball-fan bias out of the equation) and therefore it isn’t featured in the main promo material.

      BT has bought all of ESPN’s existing sports rights, including all those associated with ESPN America. As posted previously, ESPN’s new 8-year contract with MLB (starting 2014) includes broadcasting rights overseas including Europe. ESPN as a direct channel provider are pulling out of the UK market and the only vehicle to exploit these rights in the UK will be the ESPN branded channel run by BT, so there’s no reason to believe the UK part of this was not included in the BT deal.

    • Lindsay May 12, 2013 at 10:46 am #

      I agree fully with you. When I contacted BT I stated that I’m really not interested in the football coverage they offer and that I only subscribed to ESPN for the MLB.

      The lady I spoke to was very helpful and confirmed this very quickly, but it was very frustrating that their website does not mention MLB and the webchat, while a useful option, was unable to answer my question and BT had to telephone me.

  3. Smudge May 10, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    I’m not convinced after experiencing mlb.tv I am going to go with that . You can seeing way more baseball and depending on wifi coverage where are watch it on other devices laptop etc. I have been watching the free previews on my ps3 I hsve been impressed.

    • Matt Smith May 10, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

      MLB.TV is undoubtedly the best option, regardless of any BT Sport uncertainty, because you are simply paying for every MLB game, rather than a few games and then lots of other sports content that you may well not be interested in.

      Of course, the sticking point is that you do need a decent broadband set-up and, largely based on location, that’s not available to everyone. If it’s an option, even if it means spending a bit more on the broadband, that’s definitely something to consider because the MLB.TV service is so good, particularly as you mention that now there are more and more options to use the service easily through a TV rather than PC monitor/laptop.

      With a free game every day, lots of free highlights and a decreasing annual subscription price as the season goes on, there are viable options from MLB.com even if paying the full annual launch price isn’t for you.

  4. Jon Neil May 10, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    Beginning to come round to your view Matt that MLB.TV is the way to go. Have been very happy with the coverage from ESPN America over the last couple of years, but there is simply too much uncertainty regarding the BT Sports proposition. Really think we may see a significant reduction in the number of games shown. Just two decisions to make now. I want to watch it on a TV not a laptop or iPad so need to decide between roku, Apple TV or Xbox (although not keen on x box live subscription). Also need to decide whether broadband connection needs upgrading. Just out of interest what broadband speed do you get and do you experience any buffering etc? Any advice on these issues from anyone would be welcome. Cheers

  5. jamie May 10, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    hello all, I’ve been a subscriber of MLB.tv for a couple of years now and it really is awesome, lying in bed in with the iPad watching live games really is a way of life to me with this sport nowadays. I’m also a espn HD subscriber here in England, and I have to say, it tinges me with sadness that baseball in England is looking like its broadcasting is going to be stripped right down. Friday night espn baseball is something of the norm round here and the HD element of the viewing of this game has gotten people I know into this sport.

    Jamie

  6. Roly May 10, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    I just read on NFL UK forum that MLB is not part of the BT Sports service.

    Glad I took out MLB.tv now (even though nexdef is a joke)

  7. Smudge May 11, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    Well i just had an email from mlb saying get 50% off premium subscription but after clicking on it the web page comes up saying the campaign your trying to access is invalid. Oh well I’ll waiting another month to see if price comes down again. It’s sad that it seem to be going off tv screens. You never know perhaps channel 5 may show it again.

  8. Simon May 11, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    I got this reply, when having a ‘live chat’ with BT:

    “With the BT Sport Pack you will receive BT Sports 1 and 2 as well as ESPN. These includes matches from the Barclays Premier League, FA Cup, Clydesdale Bank SPL, UEFA Europa League, Ligue 1, Serie A, Brazilian Championship as well as Rugby Union, WTA Tour, UFC, Nascar and Major League Baseball”.

    But they were unable to say how many MLB games would be shown.

  9. Lindsay May 12, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    Hi Everyone,

    I’ve been trying to find out if MLB will be covered. I’ve spoken to BT today and was told that it will be.

    I hope this is of use…. :o)

  10. Smudge May 12, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Jon I did have 30 mb download with virginmedia which recently they doubled for free. I have been watching the free games on both my laptop and ps3 the quality has been excellent and in hd. Im waiting for the price comes down again hopefully before espn america shuts down . Regardless im definitely going to suscribe with mlb.tv. As a new person to mlb.tv and that I’ve been watching baseball on channel 5 first, then satellite I can only recommend try out the free games to see how it streams. If you have a ps3 just create a usa account then download mlb.tv. After that you can watch it on you normal accounts.

  11. jon May 12, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    Cheers Smudge. Much appreciated. Currently on Sky broadband and get about 6mb.. Actually watched some of the free game last night on mlb tv on the laptop and the quality was really good. No buffering at all. So definitely going to go down the mlb tv route when ESPN America shuts down in August. Final decision is now streaming device. Think I am inclined to go for the Apple Tv option as that supports NBA League Pass as well. Anyone use apple TV for MLB. Is it any good? Love this little community by the way. Great job setting it up Matt.

  12. Roly May 12, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    This is my first season as a subscriber to MLB.tv and my experience has been mixed so far.

    I watch the games on a variety of different platforms. Thought it would be useful for people considering subscribing a run down of my experiences with each (I have a very good internet connection):

    PC – Absolutely useless. NexDef just won’t install. I have spent weeks asking questions via the support forums, but the moderators seem clueless and just keep saying things like ‘we will submit your feedback,’ or ‘there is nothing we can do for you!’ Not great when you have spent £87.

    Even when watching games without NexDef, they often toggle back to the start for no apparent reason.

    When it does work, the ability to watch 4 games at once however, is awesome, as is the ability to select which at Bat to watch.

    Apple iMac (new one) – Same as for PC. The support for this is even worse, however. They told me the only way I can use NexDef is to TURN OFF the Firewall. Seriously. Complete joke. Very annoyed as I bought the new Mac for the sole reason of watching MLB games.

    Apple iPad3 – Very good experience on this. The pitch tracker and other in game options make this a great device to watch games on. The only problem with iPad functionality is that you cannot skip innings so have to guess with high speed scrubbing.

    Apple iPhone5 – I use this for watching condensed games mainly. Very good, although wouldn’t watch a whole game with this. Useful for when you on a train etc.

    LG TV – I cannot seem to get onto MLB.tv via my TV even though I can log into the app etc.

    LG Blu Ray Player = as above.

    Apple TV – I watch most games through this. When it works it is phenomenal. Picture is crisp, sound good, and very user-friendly. Good being able to skip between innings, game events and runs scored.

    Only problem is that the picture often goes and I have to end the game, go to the menu, then go back to the half inning i was on. Also can’t watched condensed games though this, only 2 min highlights which only go back a few days.

    Overall, if it wasn’t for Apple TV I would probably not re-subscribe. When this is running ok I thank my lucky stars for MLB.tv. I haven’t watched a game on ESPN all season and have no interest in signing up for BT Sports.

    My recommendation to anybody would be to get an Apple TV (I think I will get a second for the bedroom) and a good unlimited internet connection. You will wonder how you ever lived without it!

  13. Jon Neil May 12, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    Many thanks Smudge. Actually tried watching the free game on mlb TV last night on the laptop. Only get 6 mb with Sky but quality was excellent. Definitely going to go for it now when espn america closes down. Only decision now is streaming device. Think Apple TV is favourite.

  14. Jon Neil May 12, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    Anyone else got any experiences of mlb on Apple TV they could share? Love this little community of mlb fans on here by the way. Great job setting it up Matt

    • Matt Smith May 13, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

      Cheers Jon. There may be a few additional useful Apple TV comments on the original 2013 MLB.TV article:
      http://www.baseballgb.co.uk/?p=15367

      As I note in the comments, I decided to go for the cheaper Roku box and whilst it’s probably not quite so versatile (less apps than things like Apple TV, I would guess) if you’re looking for something primarily to get MLB.TV through your TV then it’s a good option. I’ve used it numerous times this season so far. Very occasionally the picture has gone on me but I’ve soon got it back and, like anything, often streaming performance can depend on local factors so I’m pleased with it.

      Just to follow up on Roly’s extremely useful summary, MLB.TV works brilliantly for me too on the iPad (and watching the Game Recaps on it is a daily ritual!). When I watch via my PC, I tend to not be so bothered about the best picture quality and so I’ve fortunately not had the NexDef problems Roly has encountered.

      Thanks all for contributing. Getting details of real experiences with using the service on different devices in the UK should prove very useful for anyone considering signing up.

      • Roly May 13, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

        Matt, maybe you could put a sticky post on the homepage of the site with different users experiences with different platforms. I know I would have found something like this extremely useful when I was first considering signing up (I got most of my answers by just asking you.)

        By the way, I check this site daily now, even before MLB.com or Phillies.com, so thanks, and keep up the great work!

        • Matt Smith May 13, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

          Thanks Roly! I’ve put this post in a more prominent position and will think about how to put more MLB.TV info up in an easily findable place.

          Cheers

  15. mike May 14, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Hi
    Has anyone tried to cancel mlb.tv auto renew after the year or month was up, just wondering how it went.Also may have been mentioned before, but have been looking at the filmon streaming site at a channel called mlb network intentional talk
    a free site for features and chat which was new to me.May be of interest as its free and on demand.

  16. Jamie Crompton May 15, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

    Going off topic here but how do I change my avatar?

    • Matt Smith May 16, 2013 at 7:52 am #

      Set up a Gravatar account
      https://en.gravatar.com/

      Then if you use the same e-mail address on your comment as tied to your Gravatar account, it should use your pic.

  17. Tom May 18, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    Just found this on BT’s website. Seems to suggest they’ll be showing MLB on ESPN. Don’t want to speak too soon though…

    http://www.btvision.bt.com/sport/mlb/

  18. Tom May 18, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Actually I think this one goes and confirms it;

    http://bt.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/44734/c/6401,6459,6459

  19. Andy Ellis May 18, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    Hi, could anyone advise how easy it is to watch a game on mlb.tv the next day without seeing the score in the game?

    This has always put me off subscribing.

    Plus can you fast forward as easily as you can via sky+? Thanks

    • Matt Smith May 18, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

      Hi Andy

      It may depend on what device you’re watching it through, but all the ones I use (PC, iPad, Roku) there’s a tick box in the settings that allows you to show or hide scores and I suspect that’s the case for all.

      In terms of fast forwarding, again with the devices I use you can simply click through to the start of a half inning (top 2nd, bottom 5th) to move about. On the PC you can even click straight into specific at-bats.

      Hope that helps

      Matt

      • Andy Ellis May 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

        Thanks Matt, can you go direct to mlb.tv pages (where I presume the hide scores apllies) or is this only available via the mlb.com pages (where it would be hard to avoid either the score or headlines about the game).

        ps sorry if this comes across like a techo-phobe

        • Matt Smith May 18, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

          No problem, I completely relate to your worries! The best way via PC is to bookmark the Watch/Listen page:
          http://mlb.mlb.com/mediacenter/index.jsp?c_id=mlb

          From there you can navigate to whatever day you want using the calendar and the page, probably deliberately, doesn’t display any news headlines etc that might give a score away.

          From memory you have to launch the MLB.tv window before you can change the hide/show score settings. So make a point to log in before you’ve got a game you want to watch and change the setting. It should remember your preference from then on.

  20. Jon Neil May 26, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

    Hi

    Question for those who have Apple TV. When you are watching do you get black borders down the sides of the screen or does it fill the screen completely. Reason I ask is that last night I watched the mlb TV free game of the day by linking up my tv and the laptop via an HDMI cable. There was a black border at the top/bottom and sides of the screen. Given that when ESPN America closes I’m going going with mlb TV I just wondered if this was the case with Apple TV. Thanks

  21. Dave May 27, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    Interested to know if we have multiple sky boxes do bt charge us for every box. On sky you just pay for one subscription and the multi room then allows that to be shown on other boxes but if bt wants to charge per card then that’s going to bernal outlay as we watch on all 3 of our boxes.

  22. Gordy June 7, 2013 at 12:11 am #

    Just wondering if there is a way to watch the previous day’s MLB games on MLB.TV without seeing the results?

    I was a subscriber a number of years ago and this was a HUGE drawback for me. I am rarely able to watch the games live and am now so used to fast forwarding through the breaks between innings with Sky+ that I don’t even watch games starting at a reasonable hour live any more.

    • Matt Smith June 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

      Hi Gordy. Yes you can watch the games without seeing the scores. See my comments to Andy Ellis above about this.

      • Gordy June 10, 2013 at 12:29 am #

        Thanks, Matt.

        That’s definitely an option then. Flipping heck. The thought of being able to watch all the Rangers games is very tempting. 🙂

  23. Gavin Lawrie June 24, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    Hi,

    Just thought I’d throw in my tuppence worth. After being casual baseball fan for a number of years and getting ESPN america ‘free’ with ESPN I’ve been watching baseball far more recently this year than the soccer!:-) So just as I was really getting in to it then the whole BT sports/espn takeover episode happens. GRRRR!!!!

    Never knew of MLB tv till I read about it on these pages and went to investigate. Lo and behold they were having a fathers day/week offer on their annual subscription. I’ve not got the highest spec laptop and with the added strain of a 13 yr old who’s always playing on xbox live I wasn’t sure what the quality of the stream would be like etc. I’ve watched by beloved Rockies 4 times over the last week or so (live and at various times in the day) and can say I’ve never had any problem with watching on MLB tv (just the results on a few games!). Can’t recommend it enough. Dunno how I survived with out. Downside is I’m sure my wife will put MLB tv as a reason on the divorce papers!

    Can’t win em all:-) …..go Rox!!!

    • Matt Smith June 25, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

      Hi Gavin

      Thanks for your comment. Glad to see you’re enjoying your subscription. The ‘can’t believe I lived without out’ comment has been repeated many times, including by myself!

      Cheers
      Matt

  24. Rebecca July 3, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    I purchased a Roku Player and got the Mlb.tv special over Father’s Day. I’m extremely pleased with the quality of the picture, and I don’t even have the greatest of internet connections (rural area). I also use the XBox 360 to stream as well. Wish I would have done this a long time ago, and happy not to be at the mercy of ESPN’s programming any longer. I can also view NHL Gamecenter as well on both Roku and XBox, so I ditched Premier Sports as well.

    • Matt Smith July 3, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

      Hi Rebecca. Thanks for the info. I’ve also found the Roku box to be a really good option that works well even without a super-fast connection. I’ll have to write an update on the ESPN America/BT situation in the next week or so but like you I think I’ll be sticking to the MLB.TV option on its own now that I’ve got a convenient way to watch that through my TV.

      Matt

  25. Tom July 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    Going slightly off track but I’d like a bit of advice.
    As a BT broadband subscriber I can get bt sport for free but due to the lack of info on programming I’m instead considering getting mlb.tv. Should I wait (and lose game time) for bt sport or go straight out and buy mlb.tv?

    Thanks

  26. jason July 27, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    Hi guys, as were are very close to by sports taking over. Is there any update if by sports showing baseball?

  27. Bruce H August 1, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    I’ve subscribed to BT Sport primarily for the Scottish football coverage (EPL is second on my list of priority!!) and by default continue to see the main ESPN channel on channel 417 (not ESPN America as it’s no longer available).

    If it helps I have looked at the forward planner on my Sky HD box and there is definitely live baseball coverage appearing on the ESPN channel during the first week of August. Presaumably that will continue in the weeks ahead?

    • Matt Smith August 1, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

      Thanks Bruce. Yes, does like there will be a decent selection of baseball on the channel in the weeks ahead

  28. Pete August 7, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    I have subscribed to BT Sport.

    A few things: BT Sport is only available on one tv per account. It will not work on Multiroom sets.

    They are showing baseball – there has been a game each night this week, actually there are three games on tonight, but this is the first day I have seen baseball scheduled at prime time.
    Throughout the weekend there is prime time baseball though, so I am hopeful for frequent games. At the moment I haven’t seen much difference from the level of coverage on ESPN America, but there are a new set of adverts….that damn land of dreams jingle!

    BT Sport is also available on pc and phone, but I have just tried to watch the padres game but i got a message saying it was not possible to show this game online due to online rights issues. Hopefully this is not the norm, otherwise I might struggle to get to watch games.

    Hope this helps.

    • Matt Smith August 7, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

      Thanks Pete. Good to read some first-hand experiences.

  29. Pete August 8, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    BT Sport have confirmed to me that baseball is not going to shown online or on phone because of broadcasting rights. It will however remain on the TV.

    They really need to sort this multi-room issue out pretty quickly…..

    • Matt Smith August 8, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

      Hi Pete. That’s an interesting point for people to be aware of.

      In terms of sorting it out the multi-room issue, that does seem to be important (and a bit bizarre that it’s an issue in the first place!).

      I guess the underlying online issue here is that MLB Advanced Media offers their MLB.TV subscription service – generating substantial revenues gloabally – that we in the U.K. can pay for to watch games online or on mobile devices. MLB and MLBAM presumably takes a guarded approach in signing away live online streaming rights to TV companies if that reduces the potential pool of people buying their MLB.TV service (I know we’re talking small numbers here in the UK, so no great impact in reality, but it probably still stands true as a general point of principle).

      It would be a bit like if the Premier League rights had evolved differently and the Premier League offered an online subscription to watch live games. In that situation, they probably wouldn’t let Sky stream the games live as part of their rights deal either.

      Hopefully with the relatively low numbers involved here an agreement can be struck.

  30. Juan August 10, 2013 at 4:29 am #

    I’m in London so I know my Internet speed is pretty good and that this may not be the case in the rest of the UK, but what I do is use a laptop, get onto MLB.TV and connect it to my tv via HDMI. Baseball, in HD, on a big screen.

    I don’t really like the idea of not having control over what games I can choose to watch. I’ve been with MLB.TV for about 9 or 10 years now and after a couple of years of repeat subscriptions, I get about 30% off the annual fee as a returning customer. Not sure if anyone else has this, but yeah, it’s great. Also take into consideration, you can get loads of Spring training games and ALL of the post-season.

    I can’t recommend MLB.TV enough.

    You can even choose if you want home or road team commentators!!!

  31. paddy Q August 22, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    Re: MLB on BT Sport/ESPN …. Well Matt … I’m getting more major league baseball on ESPN than I can handle on my TV … time to say my fears were unfounded ?

  32. Alan August 26, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    http://bt.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/46060/c/6401,6574,6615 lists ESPN games that are NOT available for ONLINE viewing for the first few weeks of BT Sport

  33. Alan August 26, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    Emailed warren.buckley@bt.com suggesting that the programme listings should include a note when a baseball programme wasn’t available for online viewing. The reply was

    Thanks for the email and suggestion.

    I have passed this onto the Product Team and we will see how quickly we can make this change

    Regards

    Warren

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes