Over the weekend I came into the office to catch up on a couple of hours of work. On the way to the office I had been listening (on the car radio) to my beloved New York Mets’ – http://newyork.mets.mlb.com – attempt to win the rubber game of a three game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks – http://arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com. I went to the MLB website and like I have done many times in the past (or thought I had) tried to get the live feed of the game which is carried locally on WFAN 660 radio in the New York DMA. It took me a few minutes to figure out that without registering and paying the fee of $19.95 for the year, I could not stream the radiocast of the game (I knew I would not be able to get the video feed without paying).
As a marketing agency I am well aware of the desire and need to leverage and monetize assets whenever and wherever possible. I did not count on getting an ad-free radio broadcast and that’s fine. I don’t know about you, but not being able to listen to a radio broadcast in real time without paying what is a fee (nominal though it may be if looked at over the course of a 162 game season) still struck me as usurious. I understand that there are always complicated licensing arrangements when it comes to broadcasts and re-broadcasts on the web. But surely there are a number of other ways for MLB to derive revenue without insisting on my paying $19.95 to listen to 4 innings of one game. I might never have had occasion to listen to another game all season!
The MLB smartphone application for iPhone, Android, or Blackberry (while it lasts) is really good and a good value proposition, and in fact I’ve subscribed for the past two years but did not this year (I just had not yet gotten around to it and now probably won’t). In the past I would be able to listen to the live feed of the game on my phone (the app is somewhere around $15) and watch highlights of any game as soon as they are posted. However I had no idea that if I wanted to listen to a game outside of a terrestrial (that is non-satellite) radio station, I would have to sign up and pay the proverbial piper.
Baseball is known as America’s pastime. Maybe it should be renamed America’s revenue opportunity. Forget for a moment that to attend a game at Citi Field requires a family of four to consider which meals they will not eat for the week (parking is $20 and even inexpensive tickets (if bought as part of a plan) can be $12/game although you would need buy 81 games to achieve that price). Imagine if the Mets actually had a chance to make the playoffs.
I feel that offering the opportunity to listen to a game for free (with ads and promotions and I’d even sign up if they required it so MLB could market to me) would be good for baseball and the promotion of the game. It seems to me that the next likely step for MLB.com is to move terrestrial baseball coverage to satellite radio (which I still won’t pay for). Then only paid subscribers will be able to listen to the game.
What do you think?