Gameday Audio Fatally Flawed

This year’s Gameday Audio player from MLB.com is even worse than last year’s flawed attempt. How can you have a media player without controls for Fast Forward or even Pause?

Having delivered the same service as last year during Spring Training, MLB.com apparently chose Opening Day to replace the Windows Media Player/Silverlight alternatives with a new and seemingly untested Adobe Flash player. The first indication that something was wrong was when none of the Opening Day games were available afterwards for on-demand listening. Every single game was listed as coming “soon”.

Messages on the support forum apologized for the “inconvenience” that a product people had paid for was not there, and promised it would appear “after 3:00 PM ET”, a concept which could have meant they might be there sometime after the World Series. Or maybe next century. Fortunately the games showed up, but certainly several hours after 3:00 PM ET.

Worse yet, the Adobe player, apparently designed for video, is massively flawed.

For several years the Fast Forward control on the MLB players has often failed. You try to drag the slider and the player just freezes while it is “buffering”. This is a problem because invariably the game recordings start very very early. (For example, trying to listen to Wednesday’s Giants game today, I had to sit through more than 20 minutes of inane chatter by KNBR program hosts.) But at least last year, and during Spring Training, the Pause control worked.

The Adobe player has no controls at all, just invitations for TV features at extra cost.

Not only is this idiotic, but one wonders why MLB.com didn’t use Spring Training to test their new system? Better complaints then, followed by fixes, than having the whole thing flop on Opening Day!

The player of the last few years also offered the option to view the score by innings in a game, a helpful feature. That’s gone too, replaced by three alternatives that seem rather useless.

One “improvement” this year seems to be that anyone can subscribe to the USD 2.49 a month extra package to listen to games on mobile phones. Last year for reasons that are hard to understand, only subscribers to one single American carrier were offered this service.

Of course one could ask why mobile listening isn’t included in the overall Gameday Audio package? All platforms ought to be covered by a single subscription. Obviously MLB.com just wants to make more money. But eventually they are going to discover than anyone with a netbook and a Gameday Audio subscription can access the games while mobile anyway.

What is seemingly particularly dumb is that the extra mobile subscription, as well as its iPhone counterpart, apparently only provide access to live games. Here in Sweden, we’re asleep during most live games, and those that are played during our waking hours, happen in the late evening, when most people would be home anyway.

On-demand listening is a no-brainer for mobile baseball access. One really wonders who is making the decisions at MLB.com?

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One comment

  1. anwest

    Great post! The video player have also failed to deliver so far. The picture freezes now and then and the sound don’t always sync.

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