MLB.TV quality
March 14, 2007 10:38 AM   Subscribe

MLB.TV -- does anyone have experience with it?

Since it looks like cable subscribers are out of luck for the Extra Innings package, I'm considering the MLB.TV package online. I'm happy to pay for the premium package becuase it comes with a faster download speed apparently. I'm wondering if anyone has used it, how their experience has been. And one question I can't seem to find the answer to is, how big is the viewing area? on the website, it looks quite small. Since we are using it as a replacement for TV, I'd perfer it to be maximized on the screen. Thanks for your help!
posted by dpx.mfx to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've used it the past two seasons to follow Red Sox games from the west coast. The viewer in the past has been set to a default of 320x240, i've never tried to scale it up since most games I watch are on during the work day. The connection is pretty consistent, the only issue is that they black out games that are available in your 'home market' aka, the zip code your credit card bills to. Meaning, in my case, that Red Sox / Angels games are unavailable. I'm not sure aobut being abie to maximize the image however.
posted by bcnarc at 10:44 AM on March 14, 2007

Another displaced Red Sox fan who also used the service and was very, very happy with it. Since my only other (affordable) option was to stick with gritting my teeth through Joe Buck's commentary when Sox games were broadcast nationally, it was well worth the expense to get my fix. And if you're, say, a Royals fan (hee hee), your pick of nationally televised games is even smaller: mlbtv is the way to go.

Resolution was fine-to-tolerable. I watched on a 12" laptop screen, and felt like the experience was decent. While the resolution wasn't spectacular, the motion was fluid and consistent. I have a hard enough time tracking the ball on a TV screen anyway, via mlbtv the players' movement was perfectly clear.

In short: I'm glad I ponied up the cash. Worth the investment for me.
posted by terceiro at 10:59 AM on March 14, 2007

I've used it for the past two years. I will be using it again this year. I wouldn't like to be watching it as a substitute for television, but on my 12" laptop it looks fine.
posted by gaspode at 11:02 AM on March 14, 2007

I've used it a fair bit over the past couple of years. I use an S-video cable to pipe the video from my laptop to my TV, since my graphics card handles that well, and the picture quality is excellent—not cable-TV good, of course, but better than you'd probably expect. I could pipe the audio into the TV, too, but I usually just turn up the speakers on the laptop.

In short, I've been pretty happy with it, especially as a Red Sox fan living in the DC area.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:15 AM on March 14, 2007

If you're using a Mac, note that it works much better in Firefox than Safari. I'm guessing it's designed for IE, which has led to headaches for me in the past.

I don't have cable, so I originally got it for Cardinals games last year. Unfortunately they were all blacked out, so I wasted the money that I spent over and above the Radio package.

Also, I consider almost all of to be the height of unusability in craptacular web design. Almost anywhere you click brings you to a flashy ad for their products (like rather than the product itself even if you pay for it. I probably could have deduced this if I would have read more of the fine print and understood the way baseball media packages worked, but it was still clear that they wanted my money more than they wanted to tell me how it all worked.

Finally, after having last year, I received an email -- which any reasonable tech-head would have assumed was spam -- telling me MLB was going to automatically renew my $100 membership and charge my credit card. It told me in order for this not to happen I had to click on a link in the email which was *not even a link to*! I went to their website to try to do it through the web, but there was nowhere I could find to click to cancel or even check the status of my package. It was either "Buy this!" or "Here are your website settings." In the end I managed to find that the link in the email was an actual subcontractor that MLB has do their web dirty work. But I think they actually would have charged me again if I hadn't clicked on links in a rather unprofessional email that anyone could have sent out.
posted by ontic at 11:28 AM on March 14, 2007

Not quite what you're asking, but since it's related -- as yet another displaced Sox fan, I'm in my third year using the Gameday Audio service, which I love. I prefer using the radio feed because it doesn't tether me to a tiny window on a tiny screen for 3+ hours; also, I love Joe Costiglione's voice. And it's only $15 for the season.
posted by tingley at 11:54 AM on March 14, 2007

I'm an out of market Phillies fan that subscribed to last year. My thoughts:

Reliable stream - I almost never had trouble with the stream dropping or cutting out.
Frame rate - The frame right is high enough that it's not much trouble to track pitches or other fast moving action.
Archived games - You can watch older games that have already ended.

320x240 resolution
Announcing streams - You don't get to pick which announcers you get to hear, so you frequently get stuck with terrible announcers. I want Harry Kalas damn it.
Blackouts - You won't be able to watch a lot of weekend games or games played against teams "in your market"
Customer service - Good luck getting any help if you ever have any trouble or questions about the service.

That said, I'm almost definately going to subscribe again this year, but I wish I had some other options.
posted by christonabike at 12:00 PM on March 14, 2007

Ontic, you took the words right out of my mouth. Navigating the site is a nightmare and they will renew your membership in any sneaky way possible. I've had to do chargebacks with my credit card company twice because ignored my cancellation requests. I've since learned to pay them using a one time use credit card number with a set limit and expiration date.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 12:00 PM on March 14, 2007

Well, they're saying that:

=Video quality will be TWICE as good as last year (video up to 700K, whatever that means)
=Their MOSAIC service will allow you to watch up to six live games at once (video speed up to 1.5M for this one)
=Gameday Audio is included this year (alas, LBB, which allowed you to listen to the MLB audio stream on you Windows Mobile device has been shut down - that worked great!).
posted by DandyRandy at 2:52 PM on March 14, 2007

I've never had luck with their connections and Mac+FF seems to crap out if I try to catch more than one game without rebooting. Multiple logins over the course of a day will get your account locked out for upwards of 24 hours–at least this was true last year. It is craptactular navigation and they take a page out of the AOL / Sears playbook when it comes to questionable credit card transactions. If there were other options I would take them in a heartbeat.

fondly recalls good old days when one could log on to the team's flagship radio station and get the stream for free. monetizing every aspect of the professional game certainly has jaded my enjoyment.
posted by Fezboy! at 3:20 PM on March 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I had it in 2004, as a Sox fan in DC. The TV feed was extremely erratic. As games progressed into the later innings, it was pretty much a guarantee that the feed would get too choppy to watch.

I would maximize it on my comp, and it looked, y'know, like a YouTube video maximized.

The classic Sox-Yanks extra innings game at Yankee Stadium, with Nomar on the bench, Jeter bloodying his face diving into the stands, Manny's go-ahead HR going for naught-- I had to listen to the last few innings on the radio. That wasn't the worst thing that's ever happened-- I'll never forget Trupiano's call of Jeter's catch-- but I'm not jumping at the chance to do it again.

Seems like they may have improved their service since then, though, on the earlier comments.
posted by ibmcginty at 4:08 PM on March 14, 2007

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