As we reach the start of the 2015 MLB season, I thought it was worth following up on my originalÂ article about the 2015 MLB.TV subscriptions to highlight ways in which you can follow the action.
BT Sport and ESPN will once again be the TV option for Brits and you’ll find a decent range of games (live and repeats of ‘as live’ games) available most weeks across those channels.
The main way to enjoy the season though is via MLB.com and, in particular, the outstanding MLB.TV subscriptions that allow you to listen to and watch every single game of the regular season and play-offs live and on-demand.
My previous article provides the key details for the Standard and Premium packages, alongside various comments offering first-hand experience of using different connected devices in the UK.
The one key amendment to the initial article is that the cost for us, unfortunately, has gone up by 20%. That’s the consequence of new EU rules around sales tax that came into force on 1 January.
The short version, as far as I can make out, is that companies selling digital goods to consumers in the EU were always liable for the payment of sales tax, but thatÂ non-EU companiesÂ could work the system by declaring a base in whichever EU country suited them best financially and pay tax at that rate (i.e. the Amazon ‘trick’ of channelling millions through Luxembourg). To try to thwart such creative accountancy, now the tax rate is based on the location of the consumer instead, meaning someone in Britain has to pay the standard 20% VAT charge.
The result is that MLB.TV Premium currently works out at approximately Â£101 (rather then Â£85 as first thought) and MLB.TV Standard being approximately Â£86 (rather than Â£71.50). If you’re a new subscriber then you select your home country as part of buying the subscription. I haven’t gone through the small print, but I’m sure the terms and conditions will require users to provide accurate information, so not selecting the UK here will be at your own risk.
A 20% increase isn’t loose change in this context so that may affect your decision on whether to buy or not.
If you want to watch your chosen team on a regular basis, or simply have the time and desire to catch plenty of games over the season then even at the VAT prices you’ll still more than get your money’s worth over the season.
The real benefit of the subscription is that there is free choice as to which games you want to watch (the ‘blackouts’ that affect U.S. viewers don’t affect us in the UK).
From my perspective, not only can I get to catch several A’s game over a week regardless of the whims of the BT Sports/ESPN schedule, but if there are a number ofÂ games being playedÂ during a British evening I tend to go to the starting pitching match-up that catches my eye first, watch a few innings of that one and then if I want to switch to a few innings of another I just move over to that instead. It’s the freedom of catching bits from lots of different games that makes the subscription fee worthwhile in my case.
We all follow baseball under our own unique circumstances though, so if the desire is there but shelling out Â£100 doesn’t make sense (your work pattern doesn’t match up well with when games tend to be played etc) then don’t think that leaves you scuppered. There are several ways to follow the baseball season without paying out a full subscription fee.
Firstly, most days throughout the season there is a Free MLB.TV Game that you can watch online without a subscription. You can’t guarantee they’ll show your chosen team on a frequent basis, nor if the game will be at a convenient time for you, but having the option to catch a few games per weekÂ is much better than nothing.
The other thing to note is that MLB.com publishes a lot of free content from games that can help you follow the season without needing a subscription. It’s not simply short clips that are available, for every single game they publish a 3 minute (on average) ‘Recap’ video showing you all of the highlights, plus a Condensed Game version (normally about 10 minutes long) that cuts togetherÂ all of the key moments.
As an example, here are the Recap and Condensed Game videos from the Marlins-Nationals game on the final day of the 2014 regular season.
It can take a little while for those videos to be edited together and published after the games finish (e.g. if you’re checking MLB.com whilst having a 7 a.m.Â breakfast on UK timezone, games that were played on the west coast in the early hours probably won’t be available at that point), but they’ll be available at some point every day and getting free access to such content is great. The best way to get to them via your web browser is the ‘Watch/Listen’ page.
So, if MLB.TV isn’t an option for you, there’s no reason to feel you’re missing out completely. What’s more, the price of MLB.TV comes down as the season progresses (i.e. when we get half-way through the season you can buy it for the rest of the season at a discounted price) so one approach might be to use the Free Games and highlights for the first half and then add an MLB.TV subscription for the business end of the season.
It should be another fantastic season, so hopefully you’ll get to catch plenty of the action via the methods that suit you best.