This article has been an annual tradition for many years, rounding up the MLB.TV offerings for UK-based fans. Yesterday’s announcement of the 2020 MLB.TV packages meant I needed to write up this year’s edition; however in truth, the excitement in doing so is not what it once was.
That’s not to suggest any reduction in my love for the service, or for baseball more widely. As I’ve written many times before, there are a lot of things I would give up if money was very tight before I even gave a thought to maybe cancelling my auto-renewal.
No, the issue here is that MLB.TV is so good that there is little scope for improvement.
Ten years ago this part of the pre-season was eagerly anticipated because we were waiting to find out what new features would be introduced. From promise of a potential HD-type quality, to Mosaic allowing you to watch multiple games at the same time, there was always something to get excited about. There were a few mis-steps along the way, such as the switch from Adobe Flash player to Microsoft Silverlight that soon gave way to HTML5, but generally the changes worked out for the better.
MLB Advanced Media were so successful in their development of their streaming capabilities that they become a lucrative world leader in the technology. For MLB.TV, they aced their refinement of the service over the first 10 years or so (2005 was the first year I bought it) so that, beyond technical tweaks behind the scenes and support for new connected devices, there isn’t much that they can add.
What do you want for your money? The ability to watch MLB games live or on-demand at a good video quality for a fair price. That’s exactly what we’ve had for years and that’s what we’re going to get in 2020. (And, just to be very clear, this is not a complaint!)
I’m sure there will be extras that could be introduced in the years ahead, especially in regard to incorporating StatCast data and graphics; however there’s nothing that the service really lacks. The biggest issue is the black-out rules in North America that block access to games depending on your location, often to a ridiculous extent. That situation has evolved slightly in recent years with some Regional Sports Networks allowing streaming access to the games if you are paying for their TV package, yet there is still plenty of way to go in knocking down what feels like an arcane policy.
It’s not a policy that applies to us, though, so we’ve always been able to access the full list of games, and that’s the case again in 2020.
This year, the US price has increased by $3 to $122. We have to add 20% VAT on to that so it works out at approximately £112.70 GBP, just a couple of pounds more expensive than last year.
It’s not yet entirely clear if the single-team package ($94, so approximately £86-£87) will be a North America-only product, but that’s been the (annoying) situation in recent years so I would assume so unless and until MLB officially confirms otherwise.
No great fanfare, no amazing new features, no complaints.
Just Spring Training games, every one of the 2,430 regular season games and all of the play-offs too live and on-demand for approximately £113.