A recent tweet from the MLB Europe Twitter account confirmed what we already knew, that there will be no terrestrial TV coverage of MLB again this year, making the MLB.com and ESPN America offerings all the more important to fans in the UK.
Plenty of new features have been added to MLB.tv in recent years, from better quality video streams to personalised fantasy alerts, and there doesn’t appear to be much missing from the current service. It’s really the pricing structure, rather than fancy new features, that most fans will be interested in.
Prices have remained the same over the last couple of years: $120 for the Premium package and $100 for the standard MLB.tv. That makes me slightly concerned that we could be in for an increase this year, although to be honest if you watch a lot of games over the season then it would continue to represent excellent value. Still, seemingly with everything else going up in price, another freeze would be warmly welcomed.
The dollar/pound exchange rate isn’t much different today compared with last February, so that won’t have much impact on the price paid by us in the UK.
Where things have changed over the last few years is in one crucial part of enjoying MLB.com’s products: bandwidth capabilities.
Even in just the past 12 months there appears to have been a rise in the number of products that involve streaming content over the Internet.
MLB.com has been a pioneer of streaming live video and when I first subscribed to the service back in 2005 it seemed like a novelty. Now, watching videos has become the norm, whether that’s simply watching YouTube videos, using the BBC iPlayer or subscribing to a service like LoveFilms.
Consequently Internet providers are rolling out faster internet services, such as Virgin Media’s current project, as the expectations of customers has increased. Like everything else in this world, this normally comes at a cost, but it does at least mean that the option is there and competition between providers will hopefully make upgrading a more affordable possibility (in locations that already have broadband, of course).
This all means that more homes should have the technical capability to enjoy watching MLB.tv to a higher quality, or simply buffer-free, standard than before.
Hopefully MLB.com’s pricing structure will help to make it a potential option to as many baseball fans in the UK as possible.