It’s been a curious launch for the 2019 MLBTV subscription details.
Usually there is a bit of a fanfare for it all, with a big promiment article on MLB.com. This time, there was a short news item made available on mobile devices on Wednesday/Thursday and since that point there’s been some confusion as to quite what is happening.
If you go to MLB.com on a PC web browser, there is currently no way to see details about the All Teams subscription and, just checking again as I type this, it’s now not even letting me click on the Teams subscription section (I tested it on Thursday and it did allow me to pick a team etc). EDIT 8/2 – MLB support are telling people to try a different browser, but that seems to produce mixed results too!
So who knows quite what is going on, but the main details have been announced one way or another so let’s work on the basis that there are a few teething issues in signing up for some methods that will hopefully be resolved soon.
The headline news is that the service once again means we can watch and listen to all the baseball we can find the time for and the cost has only increased slightly from last year. That may be all you need to know, but read on for some other news and views.
For those of us that are annual subscribers and are on an auto-renewal (which you get opted into, it should be noted) then payment will be taken from your card on or about 28 February.
All Teams price
As predicted a couple of days ago, the MLB All Teams package has increased by $3 to $118.99. We have to add VAT at 20% on to that to make for a UK cost of approximately £109-£110 (depending on your card/bank, you may pay a small overseas transaction cost too).
I say it every year in this article, but quite simply that’s a great deal for something that gives you access to Spring Training, all 2,430 regular season games (probably minus 20 or so Thursday day-games if Facebook renews their exclusive Thursday Free Game offering) and all of the play-offs (noting that we’re not caught by the US national and local TV blackouts that affect North American subscribers).
As always, value for money comes down to how much you use your subscription, but if you want to watch plenty of baseball – and why wouldn’t you?! – then it’s worth every penny.
Single team snub again?
Given the current sign-up issues, it’s not completely clear if MLB are continuing their frustrating policy of only offering the Single Team subscription option (i.e. solely giving access to games of a team of your choosing) to North American customers.
The advertised price for the U.S. is $91.99. If it was available to us then it would be approximately £85 (inc VAT). If you’re already paying for BT Sport and primarily use MLB.TV to ensure you can catch your team regularly then that £25 saving would be nice to have.
If it does tip you over your budget then don’t forget most week-days there is a Free Game to watch (admittedly not all at a convenient time for us in the UK) and the price comes down as the season goes on (with some public holiday themed offers too).
I had a go at creating a test account to see what would happen and it did allow me to pick a team; however, in previous years when you update the application details to show your address then the Tax section immediately updated to the correct amount, which it didn’t do when I tested it. It was at the same time previously that the system said the Team package wasn’t available in my location, so I do wonder if something’s a bit broken there currently. Hopefully the team package will be available, but take it as unconfirmed for now (I’ll update the article when further details come out).
Same old (good) stuff
In terms of the service itself, it’s pretty much business as usual with nothing really in the way of new features. As I mentioned in my preview, that’s not a surprise as it does what you’d want it to do, and does so well, although UK Braves Fan did throw out a good idea on Twitter that sadly hasn’t come true.
I’d certainly love the ability to download a game on to a mobile device, even if it was just time-limited as usually is the case on BBC iPlayer, although maybe that’s more a factor for those of us battling the time difference compared with people in the States? Anyway, that’s not on the cards as yet.
No MLB Network, for now
Neither is there an option to add MLB Network to the mix as hoped, for now anyway. I think it would be a popular addition at a reasonable price so hopefully that will stay on their agenda and become a feature at some point.
At Bat Premium and Connected Devices
As in previous years, MLB has a free At Bat app for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, and Amazon devices for news and scores, and then a Premium app that will give you the ability to listen to games live (i.e. radio coverage) all season long, but not to watch them. That doesn’t seem to be available yet, but in recent years has been £12-13.
However, don’t forget that if you’re buying the MLB.TV subscription you get the Premium app included in that (i.e. download the free At Bat app and then log in with your MLB.TV account details), so that’s how you can watch games live via the app.
Elsewhere, there are a host of Connected Devices on which you can download the MLB app for and then link your MLB.TV account to. It’s important to check the details on the Connected Devices FAQs page as availability of the MLB app on some devices is restricted to certain regions. The main thing this affects is PS4 owners who can’t get the app in the UK (other than using jiggery-pokery of which I of course do not endorse, but have a Google!).
XBox One, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV should all be fine here though.
TV coverage in the UK will again be on BT Sport.
ESPN in the States are broadcasting a couple of Spring Training games (Pittsburgh-Boston on 6 March and Minnesota-Boston the following day) and both are going to be on BT Sport. You would fully expect the two A’s-Mariners Japan games to be on there too on 20-21 March before the usual broadcasting pattern (normally 8-10 games most weeks) begins from Opening Day on 28 March.
Broadcasting details for the MLB London Series officially have not yet been announced, although there have been reports of the BBC being interested in acquiring the rights.
Baseball, baseball, baseball …
Despite the rather low-key launch, all we really care about is that MLB.TV is available once again and at a price that thankfully hasn’t increased very much. If you have any queries about subscribing and how the service works in the UK, leave a comment and myself or another MLB.TV regular (of which there’s plenty of us) will do our best to help.