For the past several days, my Facebook “On This Day” flashbacks have featured a bevy of All-Star Game-related content, including the time I made ribs with Billy Butler BBQ sauce in honor of the big event.
As an international MLB.tv subscriber, I went to my login Tuesday night expecting to be able to open up the app and watch the game, as I’ve done every year for at least the last six seasons when I initially got the subscription. I was denied.
I tried it on my Xbox, my PS4, my AtBat app on my phone, and several different browsers on my laptop. After being told everything from “you don’t have an account” to being stuck in a login loop, to being given only a radio broadcast, the obvious answer became clear: I didn’t have a cable account, and was therefore blocked from viewing the game.
There are ways around this, but that’s not the point. We once again see Major League Baseball struggling to understand how to bring in a younger audience to their sport, how to make themselves relevant, and to grow the sport’s international profile. Instead of promoting the sport, they are literally blocking people from viewing what is (from a pure fan appeal standpoint) the biggest game of the season. It’s unfathomable.
Dear MLB, here’s an idea for you: you want to attract new fans? You want to market your stars? You want people to learn to love this game?
Make the All-Star Game free.
Offer a secondary Facebook broadcast of it. Live stream it on YouTube. Do something to get more eyes on the event — yes, event. It’s the only time of the year baseball isn’t competing with another sport. All eyes are on baseball right now. This is your opportunity to say to the world “Here are our best and brightest, here are the men who should excite you and bring you back day after day to watch these games. This is what we have to offer you.”
Make the All-Star Game as easy to watch as humanly possible, and fans will come. Don’t make them prove they have specific cable packages, or buy an antenna, or text Mom and Dad for their login. Don’t make them require a cable package at all. Drop links to the broadcast over every social media platform at your fingertips. Make it impossible to ignore.
If you want new fans, you need to make it easy for them. If you want to keep old fans, you can’t alienate them for simply wanting the pleasure of watching Max Scherzer pitch to Aaron Judge. Don’t punish people for wanting to watch the biggest spectacle of the season, MLB. Invite them in with open arms.
Otherwise, you are sealing your own fate.