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Volume 26 No. 26
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First MLB Game On Facebook Has Various Issues, Angers Some Fans

Some viewers complained that the onscreen scoreboard and comments bar blocked too much of the screen
Photo: FACEBOOK WATCH

Yesterday's Phillies-Mets game was broadcast exclusively on Facebook Watch, the first of 25 afternoon MLB games the social media platform will show this season, and fans "quickly voiced their displeasure with the newfangled broadcast and its glitches," according to James Wagner of the N.Y. TIMES. Some viewers "complained that the onscreen scoreboard and statistics banner blocked too much of the screen, as did the comments bar on the side." In the fifth inning, as the broadcast "showed a montage" of Mets 3B David Wright, the "feed froze." Some lag time "could be attributed to the speed of viewers’ internet connections or cellphone data, but the glitch in the fifth inning" was a "widespread technical problem." It was "quickly fixed." The viewing experience for Phillies-Mets was "certainly different." Instead of the "traditional commercial breaks in between half-innings, there were short segments about players and teams, and interviews" with Mets P Matt Harvey and comedian Jim Breuer, a Mets fan. At times during game action, a viewer’s comment "would be highlighted on a banner across the top of the screen." After receiving "many complaints, producers of the stream told viewers how to hide the comments bar via the comment section, as well as on the broadcast itself." They also "reduced the size of the onscreen graphics, which were originally designed for cellphone screens" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/5).

MIXED REACTION: In Philadelphia, E.J. Smith writes it is "safe to say there was an expectation of confusion, as well as uproar," for MLB's new streaming initiative (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/5). In N.Y., Brett Bodner notes while "many were quick to bash the broadcast, some actually did find some parts of the Facebook feed they did like." Some fans "enjoyed the fact they didn't have to sit through commercials between innings" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/5).

BY THE NUMBERS: USA TODAY's A.J. Perez notes the game "drew in 4.3 million views of at least three seconds, 1.1 million reactions and more than 68,000 comments." But Facebook "did not release it’s average viewership during the broadcast, which peaked at 85,000 unique viewers per the online screen counter" (USA TODAY, 4/5). The game also "received 1.1 million likes to roughly 5,800 dislikes from users" (Bergen RECORD, 4/5). On Long Island, Neil Best writes for fans outside the N.Y. and Philadelphia markets and/or at their workplaces, it was a "welcome chance to watch a game they otherwise would not have seen." While the announcers "responded at times to comments and questions, there was relatively limited interaction." Former Mets player Cliff Floyd, a color analyst for the game, "grew frustrated with fans complaining about how to access the feed." He said, “It’s simple. Stop being lazy, people.” When fellow announcer Scott Braun explained to viewers how to mute the comments, Floyd asked, “Why would you do that?” Braun: “Hey, I agree. Talk to us!” (NEWSDAY, 4/5).

CHANGE IS COMING: THE ATHLETIC's Richard Deitsch wrote fans "had a legit complaint, even though this is the future." Not everyone "has a Facebook account and there is an expectation that all games in major sports should be available on television if you pay for that package of games." Many fans also "prefer watching sports on a television over a computer or phone." But viewers "should know more of these deals are coming as digital players such as Facebook enter the sports rights market with deep pockets" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/4).

ONE & DONE? In N.Y., Andrew Marchand cites a source as saying that yesterday's game will "likely be the only game on Facebook to feature a New York team this season." There are "all kinds of rules for how teams are chosen for national exclusive games, but the Yankees allotment is expected to be swallowed up by ESPN, Fox and TBS" (N.Y. POST, 4/5).