You may have noticed that AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain isn’t airing the Rockies-Diamondbacks today’s game, when Clay Bucholz faces Kyle Freeland. As it turns out, you’re in luck — kind of — because you’ll be able to watch the Rockies’ Facebook Watch MLB Live debut. If you plan to watch the game, it’s the only platform that will be airing it, so you have no other options.
I’ve dipped into a few games just for the experience and wasn’t terribly impressed. Here are a few things to know about the experience
On the positive side, there’s no dealing with local blackouts or the lack of an MLB.TV subscription. Plus, this allows many fans living outside the United States to have synchronous access. If you’ve grown tired of the AT&T SportsNet crew, you can try out the Facebook announcers. And if Facebook interaction is your thing, you’ll have a continuous opportunity to be social with others watching the feed.
On the less positive side, Facebook will be collecting your data while you stream. In addition, you’ll need to watch on your computer, tablet, or phone, unless you set up your television to stream Facebook. There’s also a constant stream of distracting commentary, and some of it is NSFW, for those of you who plan to watch at work.
That said, it’s easy to shut off the social. MLB.TV’s Help Center provides directions on how not only to connect to the broadcast but also how to disable comments, so they’re aware that baseball fans aren’t enthusiastic. (But even with comments turned off, Facebook regularly reminded how to do it, which was just another form of comments I didn’t need or want to see.)
The reviews overall have not been positive — see here for example, and I particularly recommend reading Grant Brisbee’s thoughts. But MLB’s ever-innovative commissioner Rob Manfred seems pleased with the collaboration, saying that Facebook games have “skewed about 20 years younger than traditional broadcasts” and “drive[s] traffic up by a factor of five or six.”
So while I’m not thrilled about it, I’ve accepted that I’m going to give Facebook three hours of my personal data for a sub-optimal viewing experience this afternoon. Rockies, please beat the D-backs and make this sacrifice worthwhile.