In a deal that was reached earlier this year, Major League Baseball aired 25 regular season games exclusively on Facebook throughout the 2018 regular season. Reactions to the Facebook Watch games were nearly all negative, regardless of the market.
Last year, Facebook streamed 20 MLB regular season games. The major difference between last year and this year is that the 2017 games were not exclusive to Facebook, and could be covered by local stations. The deal reached this year allowed Facebook to stream the 25 games exclusively, even leaving out MLB.tv, a service that many out-of-market MLB fans pay for to watch every game.
There are four main reasons that the 2018 partnership was a terrible idea for MLB and Facebook:
- Many of MLB’s aging viewers don’t know how to work Facebook.
- MLB is struggling with attracting millennial viewership, but the last thing millennials want to do is go out of their way to spend hours on Facebook just to watch a regular season baseball game.
- The majority of the Facebook Watch games are afternoon games that get the lowest ratings anyway.
- The commentators are “neutral” for the games, and it’s obvious they don’t know much about either team or market.
I remember watching the Braves play the Blue Jays earlier this year on Facebook Watch and witnessed first hand how bad it was. This partnership was a terrible idea from the beginning, and hopefully MLB will stay away from airing games on Facebook in the future.