Gone are the days of starring at the radio to listen to the game or reading the newspaper for baseball information. My son will not be able to reminisce about Sunday’s and being excited about turning on WWOR to catch the Sunday Mets game because we can’t get SportsChannel for the weekday games. That was the real game of the week! Oh yea, that baseball almanac someone got you for Christmas last year, just recycle it. It’s way quicker to find the information you need by searching a site like “BaseballReference.com”, instead of going through the table of contents of a book.
Access to baseball is everywhere. On our phones, tablets, computers TV’s. If you have these kind of technologies, then you can connect. Since technology is moving so fast these days, I thought it would be a good idea to explain some of the services I’ve been able to try, and discuss their Pro’s and Con’s.
MLB Extra Innings: “Early Bird costs are $215.00 for DirecTv, or $179.00 for Cox, Comcast, Time Warner and other cable providers. The one thing that I noticed from the cable providers, is none of them label the service is being available in HD. DirecTv’s is in both HD and SD, and that is probably why there is a cost difference. Get up to 80 out of market games, and access to both the home and away teams broadcast (sorry GKR, when LA is playing our boys I’m listening to Vin).
This was the only TV service available until this year, when MLB decided to have it’s cake and eat it too.
MLB.tv: Premium service for $124.99 or $109.99 for the standard package. Both packages allow you to watch live out of market games on your computer. What’s the $15 dollar difference? The premium service allows you to stream games onto your TV (list of supported devices below), iPad and Smart Phone. You also get free access to the “MLB atbat” (normally $14.99) phone and iPad app where you can get live scores and listen to radio broadcasts of all the teams, plus pitch by pitch game cast. _________________________________________________________________________
I’ve had the MLB Extra Innings service for 9 years up until this season. I started with Cox’s offering when I used to live in RI and have had DirecTv’s version for 7 years now that I am in NH. I cannot say enough how much I love DirecTv, especially for sports. You will not get better picture quality anywhere. I can record five games at a time with their DVR service, pause a game and send it to another TV. They also have some in game menu’s where you can retrieve stats and scores, but I’ve always felt it was a little clunky and slow.
This year with the state of the team and my work/life balance, I was having a hard time justifying the $215 this year. The cost used to be $125 at the start and it has gone up in price every year. A couple months ago I caught wind from some of our commentors about MLB.tv and it’s low price point. In researching it I learned that they were adding TV streaming this year, so I had to check it out.
Over the last few days I have been testing the service on my Motorola Android X phone, iPad 2 and Samsung Plasma 1080p TV via my XBOX 360 to get the streaming access. Service on my 2 year old smart phone is what I expected, the picture quality was not great, but if I want to check something out quickly or am stuck in the airport, it is fine. The iPad is stellar. Picture quality is fantastic, and I can also swipe my fingers to display statistical menus and hide them again. Streaming on the TV is great as well. Not as good as the DirecTv feed, but close. HD was crystal clear and the up close or slow moving shots may have been better than DirecTv. The picture just seemed brighter. Where DirecTv has the edge is during the action, but the difference isn’t that noticeable. Where the streamings lower frame rate fails, is when a player is throwing the baseball. You can almost see 2 baseballs at the same time on the throw. Players running and sliding still looked clear though and there was no noticeable latency. The menu system also worked well. Using my XBOX to control the action I can click a button to get scores, or to select another game. Switching between games took about 5 seconds to load the new one. Probably the best feature is NO COMMERCIALS! Just a blue screen saying it’s a commercial break with peace and quiet. I didn’t bother testing it on my PC. I build my own and my 3 year old setup probably still has better specifications than many new models hitting the market, so it’s not really fair to make suggestions off that equipment. I stream games from ESPN all the time and it looks great.
One other thing to keep in mind, is your internet connect. The bigger the pipe, the more you can stream. I currently pay Comcast for 20mg service. By the time it goes though my router and divided up through my TV and other devices, I am getting 14mg at my computer during heavy volume.
For me I was sold once I saw it on the iPad. To be able to watch a game outside on a nice evening, or next to the wife while she watches “So you think you can dance” this summer is going to be really nice. Paying $100 less to access the same games on multiple devices with no commercials, really doesn’t put up a fair fight to the Satellite and Cable providers.
DirecTv and other providers have a free preview until 04/15. Unfortunately MLB.tv does not have a preview option. So if you are interested, do a little research and figure out what works for you.
For a list of MLB.tv supported TV streaming devices goto: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/subscriptions/index.jsp?product=mlbtv&affiliateId=MLBTVREDIRECT#premium_connected
For more information regarding DirecTv’s extra innings package, goto: http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/content/sports/mlb
To test your internet connection speed, goto: http://speedtest.net/