There’s an article on MLB.com today all about MLB.TV, marking the five-year anniversary of the introduction of the service.
Suffice to say, it is an absolute godsend to British baseball fans. It’s not dirt cheap (adding broadband costs on top), but considering what you get for your money you wouldn’t expect it to be. The Premium package, streaming at 700K and with the Mosaic option, cost me £65 for the 2007 season and I couldn’t begin to count the amount of games I’ve watched parts of, if not the whole nine innings, so far this season (and I’ve listened to a fair few on Gameday Audio as well). I’ve more than had my moneys worth, just as I have during the past two seasons.
It’s evenings like today when it comes into its own. I’ve got no plans for the evening and, as Graham Coxon once sang, “there’s nothing on the tele and the radio is shite”! But I’m currently enjoying a pitching duel between the Indians and the Tigers and I’ve got a Cubs-Giants match to look forward to from 20.35, with Carlos Zambrano and Matt Cain taking the mound. I love Five’s coverage and I try and catch their broadcasts when I can (and certainly wouldn’t go anywhere else for the World Series). Two games a week just isn’t enough though. NASN certainly provides an alternative, but you have to buy a lot of other uninspiring channels to subscribe to it and you don’t get anywhere near as much baseball for your money as you do with MLB.TV.
Of course, with MLB.TV you get to choose the game(s) you want to watch. So if you want to follow your favourite team then you can (watching some games live and the rest on “archive” the day after). If you want to catch all of the teams every once in a while, then you can do that to. The blackout restriction doesn’t apply to us Brits, so the only thing getting in our way is the time difference. That certainly has an impact, but there are normally a few games to watch on two or three evenings over the course of a week, and there’s plenty to choose from at the weekend. As regulars will know, I publish a weekly guide to “British evening/North American day” games every Monday.
While I was interested in subscribing prior to the 2005 season, I was a bit sceptical about whether the picture would be watchable. Thankfully, MLB put a few 2005 Spring Training games on for free and my fears were put to rest. Not crystal-clear, TV-quality pictures, but close enough not to be an issue (and at 700K this year, it basically is TV quality).
Anyone out there wondering whether or not to invest in MLB.TV, either for the rest of this season or looking ahead to 2008, can tune in to a free presentation of the Yankees-Tigers game on Sunday at 18.05. Please be aware that MLB.TV can damage your social life and greatly restrict conversations with workmates (“What did you think of last night’s episode of CSI: Miami?” – “Don’t ask me, I was watching a baseball game” – “What, again?” – “Umm, yes” etc).