MLB partners with Facebook to broadcast games


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Chris DiGeronimo, Sports Editor

     Earlier this year Major League Baseball announced that it was partnering with Facebook to exclusively broadcast 25 games on the social network throughout the season. The deal is said to be worth between $30 million to $35 million. This is the first time that a major U.S. league has agreed to show regular season games exclusively on Facebook. The rights allow Facebook to experiment with things like social integration and graphics during the broadcast, enhancements popular with younger viewers drawn to the digital platform.   

    On Wednesday (April 4) the first test of streaming games through Facebook Watch took place as the Philadelphia Phillies took on the New York Mets at Citi Field. The broadcast did not get out to a good start as the game was scheduled to start at 1:10 pm but was delayed due to rain and didn’t start until 2:47 pm. During the rain delay viewers were treated to a blank screen with no pregame show due to the exclusivity of the broadcast. The Mets broadcast channel SNY was not able to step in to the production and produce content, MLB was not allowed to cut to other games, so fans were left waiting patiently for the rain to stop.

    Once the game got underway fans were not happy with the quality of the broadcast due to the unprofessional graphics and the unfamiliarity of watching baseball on a streaming service. During the broadcast ESPN’S Keith Olbermann tweeted, “The Facebook telecast Mets-Phillies game is LOL-bad. Epically amateurish and tedious. If you want to put it online and cover it with gigantic pointless graphics and inane commentary, have fun. But don’t make it exclusive. The world is fleeting Facebook; MLB embracing it?”

In an attempt to reach a younger audience and get more people involved MLB has seemed to disgruntled their older fans (baby boomers), the same fans that make up 40 percent of their demographics. Some older fans such as New York’s WFAN morning show host Boomer Esiason were left trying to figure out how to create a Facebook account just to watch the game. The process was so stressful that he tweeted “get me a millennial” while trying to figure it out. In total according to MLB Advanced Media the broadcast drew 4.3 million viewers, 68,000 comments and 1.1 million reactions across the Facebook Watch in the U.S. and a second stream for international viewers.  

    All the games that will be broadcasted on Facebook will be weekday afternoon games. The next scheduled Facebook Watch game is Wednesday, April 11, between the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:05 p.m.