Mancuso: Facebook MLB and Not Your Choice

This is really not your choice. Like it or not, Facebook the social energy tool is the latest to invade the live programming of sports and they are listening to you.  The first of a 25-game package starts tomorrow afternoon at Citi Field when the Mets host the Phillies. And it’s Facebook Watch because they know you are a Facebook junkie, as is yours truly.  So here are the details of the MLB deal with Facebook:

  • Major League Baseball and Facebook announced a historic agreement to produce and distribute weekly afternoon games for Facebook.
  • A 25-game package starting tomorrow will be available exclusively on Facebook Watch in the United States, marking MLB’s first digital-only national broadcasts. MLB has selected the Phillies-Mets game as their first live stream.

And we should not be shocked or confused.  Social media, digital as it is also known, has become the prominent and addicted tool for you and yours truly. Hey, there would be more newspapers in business and thousands of more journalists and editors still employed if this new era of technology was on another planet.

So with that, the Mets and Phillies will not be televised on their regional networks of SNY TV and NBC Sports Philadelphia. No Gary, Keith, and Ron Thursday afternoon in the Mets booth. No Tom McCarthy in the Phillies booth. And if you are a subscriber of MLB.TV, and pay a package of $119.00 or more, well that is blacked out.

Only way to listen to your favorite voices is tune in on radio, the old fashioned way, and where they paint the picture  Howie Rose, WOR 710, longtime Mets broadcaster and his partner Josh Lewin are always trusted. Major League Baseball will supply the broadcast talent on a game-to-game basis.

So, why have we come to this point and in this new era of sports with technology? Demographics is the word, the age group that MLB insiders say are geared to this new wave of sports coming to you. They do this for a living and determined those in that key 24-50 year old age group, the addicted souls that use laptops, tablets, and mobile devices, they view and follow baseball in this new era.

But we all don’t do it this way, even it this addiction has become a part of our daily routine. Then this is obvious, the issue of another lucrative making money deal that has consumed sports and the billion dollar industry of Major League Baseball.

But this could lead to that additional package, meaning more and more going this route. Though the lucrative regional deals that MLB teams and owners have with networks could stop the carnage of Facebook or other social media forums from taking over telecasts of Major League Baseball games and how they come to you.

But this should be nothing new, and one look at how pro wrestling has evolved could provide an answer. The WWE Network, a start up with Major League Baseball Advanced Media developed a concept of $9.99 per month of pay-per-view events, programming, and historic footage. In three years the network has produced over a million-and- half subscribers and that amounts to millions of you know what.

And the past eight weeks, WWE initiated a weekly Facebook Watch Live Mixed Match Challenge that averaged over 1.5 million viewers. Again they hit their proper demographics, the same that MLB and Facebook Live will attract Thursday afternoon.  

The negative part of this are the consumers of cable, those who purchase a sports package such as SNY. and they get shut out. They lose a game on their package that was paid for. Those who subscribe to MLB.TV lose a game they pay for at a more lucrative price.  And regardless of what those higher ups of Facebook say, there are many who don’t use their social media forum. They won’t touch it, download the App, and won’t allow their kids to log on.

And Major League Baseball, a sport that is losing interest with youth around America, does not need to see a further decline with that demographic group.

Gary Cohen said the Mets next telecast on SNY, this after the Mets win Tuesday night, “Our next SNY telecast is Thursday afternoon when the Nationals host the Mets in their home opener.” There was mention of watching the game Wednesday afternoon on Facebook Live Watch and the game will be replayed on SNY later in the evening. 

This is the wave of the future. We all know that these first 25 games will lead to more, even if the regional telecasts bring in lots of revenue. So in other words if you are not a Facebook junkie, not a social media fanatic, you need to know:

Get with the Program whether you like it or not because this is just the beginning!

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected]  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso


About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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