This afternoon, the Mets and Phillies will play the last game of their series in Queens, and if you’re interested in watching the game, you have one option: Facebook. The social media behemoth and Major League Baseball came to an agreement that was announced during the offseason, one that gives Facebook exclusive broadcast rights—not just streaming rights—for one day game per week during baseball’s regular season.
Mets and Phillies fans are the guinea pigs for this dumb idea.
In an attempt to, well, do something, the league has decided to shut out local networks from broadcasting the game. The Facebook broadcast will show an MLB Network production, with familiar-to-Mets-fans names Cliff Floyd and Alexa Datt part of the show. But it won’t even be on the actual MLB Network, either.
It all seems like some sort of vague attempt to attract young viewers, the league’s ever-present desire. But most of the people in the group that the league is targeting don’t really use Facebook, and plenty of folks who still happily pay for cable packages that include networks that show baseball games aren’t on Facebook in the first place, either.
The league seems to be keeping older viewers out while not really accomplishing anything when it comes to younger, potentially new fans. At its most cynical, the agreement comes off as the league allowing Facebook to further its own goals in exchange for money.
Whatever the case, the baseball universe will be short a game of Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, and Steve Gelbs’s SNY broadcast. If the goal is to get new fans hooked on the sport, simply showing that broadcast nationally on Facebook while allowing it to air in all of its usual places. Maybe tell the network that it can’t do its own streaming thing.
Whatever the case, there’s a simple solution here for fans: Listen to Howie Rose and Josh Lewin on WOR instead. As producer Chris Majkowski mentioned in a tweet, that broadcast will be available in all of the places that you’d typically find it. Baseball lends itself to radio well, and there’s no need to participate in MLB’s social media experiment. It might be tough to give up a game of actually seeing Noah Syndergaard pitch, but the radio booth will paint a great picture—one that sounds infinitely better than the Facebook video could possibly look.