My Frustrations with Major League Baseball Advanced Media

I am developing a love/hate relationship with Major League Baseball Advanced Media. Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) is a limited partnership of the club owners of Major League Baseball that manages baseball’s internet and interactive branch of baseball.

MLBAM maintains each team’s web site and provides content by hiring beat writers for each franchise. Besides the web site, MLBAM is also responsible for the various interactive product offerings for baseball.

These offerings include applications such as the highly successful At-Bat application, the GameDay application, and MLB.TV. Most of these products are professionally done and offer great opportunities for fans to remain connected to the game.

I have been a regular customer of MLBAM since its inception trying out most of their product offerings. I love the At-Bat app on both the computer and the iPhone. It has a great navigation system and provides up-to-the-minute team information. This is especially important in the mobile market when you just cannot be around a television to keep tabs on your favorite team.

This year I have been debating whether to subscribe to the MLB.TV product offering. On one hand I am still appalled that MLBAM refuses to work with each team to offer discount pricing to season ticket holders.

Given the financial and time commitments season ticket holders make to a franchise, it would seem logical that baseball would want to reward their most loyal fans buy offering a slight break in price to gain more users of their service. Instead they seem to be snubbing their noses at the teams and their fans focusing on collecting every penny they can.

With the introduction of the iPhone and other smart phones I was really curious at how useful MLB.TV would be. I was also intrigued by the advertising that offered all 2,430 games being played during the 2010 season.

I measured the pros and cons of purchasing MLB.TV and struggled trying to find a justification for spending $119.95 to watch even more baseball than I do already. The final argument in the pro column was the fact that my daughter is getting married during baseball season.

I had already been read the riot act by my wife and daughter that I was forbidden from bringing a television to the wedding. I figured that MLB.TV would be my loophole. Technically I would not be bringing a television; I could instead watch the game on my iPhone or on a laptop.

Confident I had found a solution to my dilemma of how I could keep track of the Diamondbacks during the wedding and subsequent reception, I ordered the Premium package. After all, how could I pass up the DVR features and the ability to watch four games simultaneously?

After putting down my money my wireless devices began to bring baseball to life even when I was not at the ballpark. I could check in on out-of-market games and could have a window open on my laptop with four games going on at a time.

When my wife suggested that we would be traveling to visit our daughter and our first grandchild I figured I had the perfect weapon. While grandmother and baby bonded I could still watch baseball. Given that my daughter lives in Utah I was unconcerned with any blackout restrictions since there is no team in that market.

After charging my iPhone and laptop batteries we set off on the trip. When we arrived at our destination, my wife took our daughter out shopping and I was dragged along. Not a problem, I could always watch baseball while they were trying on clothes.

I opened up the application and selected a game. The system authenticated me and checked for geographic restrictions. I sat waiting for the game to begin playing on my phone. Instead I was presented with a page saying the game I wanted was blacked out.

That seemed weird but since several games were being played I simply selected another game. Once again the system checked my location and again presented me with a page stating the game was blacked out.

I went through every game on the schedule that was currently being played and with each I was told there were blackout restrictions. I could not believe my eyes. I began researching what could possibly be causing my problems.

As I read through the error messages I learned that MLBAM blacked out all games played on the weekend after a certain time of night. This rule likewise was in effect for other games and teams.

Clearly the advertisements for this service were misleading. It is impossible for a fan to gain access to all of the 2,430 games since many of them take place during these time periods on weekends where no one can access the games being played.

This is especially frustrating from the perspective of a season ticket holder. I have made financial commitments to purchase tickets to every home game the Arizona Diamondbacks are playing this season. Clearly I would like to see every Diamondbacks game being played this season.

Since 81 of these games are played away from Chase Field I would like to purchase the rights to watch all of those. Instead MLBAM will selectively blackout games eliminating any possibility of me watching the team.

It is as if Major League Baseball is purposely trying to alienate its fan base. Why would they not offer fans an opportunity to follow the team for all 162 games? It is not as though my watching the game would result in them selling fewer tickets. I’ve already purchased tickets to every home game. The team has gotten my money for that.

Major League Baseball and their MLBAM group needs to review their product offerings and work with each of the clubs to create a product that puts baseball into the hands of the fans regardless of where they are located. These archaic blackout rules are not helping the clubs, they are just frustrating the fans who cannot follow their favorite teams and sport.


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