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Volume 26 No. 52
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Facebook Kicks Off Exclusive MLB Package Today With Phillies-Mets

MLB and Facebook today will begin the 25-game exclusive package of matchups announced last month, with Phillies-Mets this afternoon airing domestically only on the social media platform. The weekly games, billed as baseball’s first digital-only national broadcasts, will focus on weekday afternoons when social media usage is typically high. The MLB Network-led production will be tailored specifically for Facebook Watch and social-based consumption, including tighter camera angles, larger graphics, and the integration of fan comments and player Instagram handles into the broadcast. Talent for the broadcast includes Scott Braun, Cliff Floyd, John Kruk and Alexa Datt. Facebook yesterday released the cold open that will begin today’s broadcast. The exclusive nature of Facebook’s rights for the package of games, despite being prominently announced during Spring Training, has not been widely known or understood among some fans. WFAN’s Boomer Esiason criticized the effort on air as “the dumbest thing ever" and wondered if he was "supposed to get excited about this.” Those comments mirrored fan vitriol yesterday on social media, particularly within the N.Y. market. However, the $30M deal is designed to experiment with new production concepts, evaluate consumption patterns on emerging Facebook Watch, continue to be wherever people are congregating in larger numbers and reach a massive global audience that includes large pockets of non-avid fans (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

GIVE IT TIME: On Long Island, Neil Best notes accessing the 25 games is "free but will require a Facebook account and use of Facebook Watch’s MLB Live page." For many, it will be a "seamless process; for others, confusion and consternation are inevitable." MLB Deputy Commissioner for Business & Media Tony Petitti said, "There’s always going to be, when you test new things, a little bit of disruption. There’s no doubt about that. We understand that and we’re obviously sensitive to it, which is the reason why we’re not going to hit the same teams over and over again with games." He said that MLB’s large inventory of games "provides the flexibility for experiments such as the Facebook deal, as well as the ability to spread the schedule around." Petitti: "As distribution of content continues to evolve and change very rapidly across lots of different platforms, lots of leagues are experimenting with different content. I think for us doing it this way makes the most sense in terms of how we do the test. But that’s what this is about, trying to figure out the viability of these platforms as a delivery system for live baseball games" (NEWSDAY, 4/4).