Will the World Baseball Classic be a Classic we can’t watch?

The World Baseball Classic begins on Monday morning.

The tournament opener comes from Seoul where South Korea will host Israel. The latter defeated Great Britain in the final of their qualifying tournament last September to reach this stage, so British fans might be forgiven for not wanting to watch what might have been.

However, as things stand, they won’t have to make that choice.

Currently there appears to be no coverage of the WBC on UK television and, as MLB.TV’s coverage is exclusively available to U.S. customers, no other way to watch the event.

The distribution rights for the tournament are held by a company called MP & Silva. Two deals were announced on Thursday regarding coverage in Latin America and Australia, but not details have been forthcoming in regard to Europe.

The 2013 event was shown in the UK on ESPN (now part of the BT Sport stable of channels), with the semi-finals and final also shown on Eurosport the day after they took place. BT Sport would be the realistic home for the WBC as the holder of MLB rights; however no WBC games are on their own TV guide schedule for the next week at time of writing and looking a bit further ahead on other TV schedule sites (Radio Times etc) doesn’t offer any hope either.

It may be that BT Sport and/or Eurosport will show the tail-end of the tournament, but even that is not guaranteed right now.

All of which is a real blow for baseball fans in the UK. None of us would expect there to be a fierce bidding war for baseball rights here, and perhaps Great Britain making it through to the main event would have changed things, yet failing to get the tournament on British TV would be a real negative at a time when MLB is actively seeking to bring games to these shores in the near future.

The MLB.TV blackout is especially frustrating in this context. If we can’t watch the games on TV (nor perhaps baseball fans in other countries), why not allow MLB.TV subscribers to watch them via this method instead?

Maybe there will be a solution from somewhere. Perhaps a deal will be concluded and TV coverage will be available (although that doesn’t look likely, at least for the majority of the event) or maybe once the tournament begins we’ll find that those of us in non-TV coverage territories will be able to watch it online (streamed on YouTube for free etc)?

Or maybe we’ll just be left reading stories and watching post-game highlights?

Considering the WBC is designed to be MLB’s big event to raise global exposure of the sport outside of the States, that would be a huge disappointment for us all.

To bastardize a well-known saying, if the baseball-promoting World Baseball Classic isn’t available for us to watch, does it really promote baseball at all?

20 Responses to Will the World Baseball Classic be a Classic we can’t watch?

  1. mic March 4, 2017 at 5:09 pm #

    seen many people from Europe asking the same things on their forum with not a lot of luck.You would think they could add the games to MLB tv on demand even if they dont want to show them live.

  2. Trevor anderson March 5, 2017 at 11:43 am #

    Matt I was going to contact you today regarding the world baseball classic but I seen your post. I have contacted ESPN & BT to get there reasons for not showing it, but I have had no reply. Very dissapointed to say the least.

    • Matt Smith March 5, 2017 at 11:58 am #

      It is a shame. Since my original article, it’s come to light that BT Sport are a WBC partner for the UK so presumably they do have the rights and are just going to pick and choose a few games later in the tournament.

      In some ways that’s better than nothing, but still leaves us unable to watch the majority of the event (as things stand)

  3. barry winetrobe March 5, 2017 at 6:01 pm #

    WBC is one thing – the 2017 MLB season is quite another. Will BT Sport be covering it fully, as usual, and, if so, when will it start being shown – even spring training, but especially the regular season – I can’t see any hints on BT Sport

  4. Andrew McDonald March 6, 2017 at 7:19 am #

    Will even the highlights be available on the MLB app?

  5. Chris March 6, 2017 at 8:31 am #

    Today’s Israel @ Korea tilt is showing up on MLB.tv for me, and I live on the Isle of Man

  6. Kieran March 6, 2017 at 9:52 am #

    Apparently, according to someone on Digital Soy, coverage starts with the semis on the 21st and then Baseball Tonight and spring training starts

    • Matt Smith March 6, 2017 at 7:36 pm #

      Looks that way. Shame if we can’t watch the other games online

  7. Glen D March 6, 2017 at 9:00 pm #

    Nothing but College Basketball on BT Sport ESPN at the moment (yawn). I’m so disappointed in this lack of coverage, not only by BT but also the blackout restrictions to those of us outside of the US that fork out the £90 per season for MLB.tv. Definitely left a bitter taste in my mouth.

    • JohnnyA March 7, 2017 at 1:55 pm #

      My MLB.TV subscription has just renewed at £113 (presumably an increase largely down to the weaker pound). The blackout restrictions for the WBC are a joke and reflect very badly on the organisation.

  8. mic March 8, 2017 at 4:35 pm #

    WBC games now archived on MLB’s Youtube channel. Mentioned on MLB tv forum,not sure if this is for the whole tournament but its a start.Games dont seem to be mentioned on the home page yet but are in the video and playlist section and include todays games

    • Matt Smith March 8, 2017 at 7:51 pm #

      Thanks, useful to know

  9. mic March 10, 2017 at 5:12 pm #

    now looks like they have gone so did not last long

  10. Muhammad March 11, 2017 at 8:58 pm #

    BT confirmed the Semi final and final of the world baseball classic will be shown

    https://community.bt.com/t5/BT-Sport/World-Baseball-Classic/td-p/1723037

  11. LeicesterNige March 12, 2017 at 7:31 am #

    Hi guys world baseball classic and baseball tonight on BTsport espn on Tuesday

    • Matt Smith March 12, 2017 at 9:02 am #

      Hi Nige – thanks, yes, that’s the first semi-final being shown on Tues 21st. Good we’ve at least got the final games on, just a shame none of the build up to them!

  12. BWeiler March 12, 2017 at 9:19 am #

    There’s also no coverage from mlb.tv here in Germany.

    I e-mailed mlb.tv and got this response:

    “Dear Fan,

    We appreciate the time you have taken to contact us. Please be advised that both live and archived World Baseball Classic games will be available to all MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the US only.”

    I had also asked whether they could inform me how I can view it in Germnay. No reply to this.

    I’ve now asked for a partial refund from mlb.tv (siting the lower value of my subscription due to the absence of the WBC), though I don’t expect anything to come of it.

    Totally ridiculous.

    • Matt Smith March 12, 2017 at 10:42 am #

      Sorry to read it’s the same in Germany. You could potentially understand it if a TV company was showing all the games locally, but when that’s not the case then I don’t see why they would stop us from watching it. Doesn’t make any sense.

  13. Drew March 12, 2017 at 10:16 am #

    It’s a real shame that we can’t watch the WBC via our MLB.tv subscription in the UK. Especially with the rumors of MLB coming to the UK in the next couple of years. You would have thought that they would want to use this to raise interest in the game.

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