Category: ESPN America

Goodbye ESPN America, but why did you erase my recordings?

WBC 2013 tickets (edited)

After Christmas I prepared for the 2014 MLB season by watching my recordings from the 2013 World Baseball Classic. This was fun, following the progress of the Netherlands to the semi-finals….but about a week ago I discovered that all of my recordings had been deleted.

This my iptv supplier Telia apparently did because the recordings were from ESPN America, which no longer exists. Why the disappearance of the channel should result in deleting recording files on a harddisk they do not explain, except to say they can’t actively access my harddisk and erase files.

Yet that’s what they did.

ESPN America apparently pulled the plug on August 1, 2013. I didn’t even notice, which perhaps just shows that the channel itself no longer filled a role, at least for baseball fans.

Major League Baseball arrived on European TV screens in 1997 when Britain’s Channel Five started broadcasting the ESPN Sunday Night game live, in the early hours of Monday mornings European time. To explain the game to viewers more familiar with cricket they offered a pair of entertaining and knowledgeable hosts, who introduced the programs and talked during the America commercials.
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ESPN America to broadcast from Cactus League

Amazingly, ESPN America will actually break its ban on the Cactus League and broadcast one game from Arizona:

MLB spring training continues as teams trim their rosters and sharpen their skills with live action from the Red Sox vs Phillies, Angels vs Giants and Yankees vs Braves.

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The Giants home game against the Angels from Scottsdale will be broadcast live on March 27th (kind of the exception that proves the rule). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they will be able to tap into a national (ESPN) broadcast.

Come on ESPN, there’s baseball west of the Mississippi

In America for a couple of weeks and watching a Mets-Tigers game on ESPN. Two irritating things ruining the experience:

One of the announcers has indicated he was once a Giants pitcher. But they NEVER seem to say on the air who the announcers are, and there is nothing to indicate this on the ESPN website. (Ah, they just flashed a graphic, so now I can’t figure out why Mark Mulder said he played on the same team as Tim Lincecum…he must have meant Tim Hudson.)

They reviewed the AL and NL Easts, and promised to do the other divisions. They did talk about the Tigers and the AL Central, but it’s the bottom of the ninth and they haven’t said a word about the NL Central or anyone’s West. MLB media are just too eastern-oriented!

Media/Tech hopes for the new season

Spring Training has been underway for almost two weeks, filled with promise for the new season, with the prospect of disappointment far off. The same applies, partly, in the media and tech offerings for those of us following the game from outside the US.

ESPN America will soon be broadcasting Spring Training games, but for the second year in a row only from the Grapefruit League in Florida. Repeated e-mails asking why they refuse to carry games from Arizona go unanswered. NASN, which ESPN bought a couple of years ago, carried games from both Florida and Arizona. One wonders why it is so much harder for ESPN to do so? Or is this just another example of the East Coast bias one constantly encounters in American baseball coverage?

Fortunately there is an alternative to ESPN America (which they seem slow in grasping), the many offerings from MLB.tv, including Gameday Audio. The various MLB.tv packages for 2012 have now gone on sale. This year there is a major improvement. Last year, if you bought an MLB.tv package, you could watch and listen to the games on their excellent At Bat iPhone and iPad apps. But you had to actually pay extra for each of the apps, which seemed like a rip-off to many. This year, if you subscribe to MLB.tv, the apps are free. They are supposed to appear today.

But one thing still seems uncertain. If you access Gameday Audio on a computer, not only can you listen to games live, you can listen to any game afterwards on-demand. This feature has not been included in the In Bat apps. This is particularly strange, since you could listen to archived games on a netbook, but not on an iPad. Even if you tried to just access the MLB site with a browser, you couldn’t do anything, because the iPad lacks Flash. Since rival Android tablets and smartphones do run Flash, this restriction makes no sense, and may explain why the apps are suddenly free.

You can watch archived video from games on iPhones and iPads, which can be an alternative. You can stick the phone in your pocket and listen. But this uses up a lot of bandwidth (and many have bandwidth caps) and sometimes the whole thing shuts down if you turn off the screen. And maybe people just want to listen to the radio broadcast.

In the middle of last season I asked Gameday Audio Support if they could consider adding archived games. Their response was along the lines of “that’s a good idea, we’ll think about it for an update”. No such update was forthcoming last season.

In early February I asked the same question again. The response:

The features of the mobile apps for this season are not yet available. They will be released closer to the start of Spring Training games.

We can only hope (although we probably won’t know until the first game of the new season).

Will ESPN America Get Its Act Together?

We’re on the edge of a new baseball season, with the first Spring Training games at the end of the week. Yet Europe’s only cable TV source of baseball seems not to have learned from last year’s mistakes.

Towards the end of last season ESPN America made over its website, probably to make the former NASN.com more like the rest of ESPN. But there were some flaws in the new site, which I wrote to ESPN about at the time. Now with the new season almost here, not much seems to have been done to fix the problems.

I wrote to ESPN again a couple of weeks ago to point out or ask about a couple of things:

    1. This year would they give us games from Arizona as well as Florida? (NASN did during its tenure, but last year ESPN America only carried games from the Grapefruit League.)

 

  • NASN had printable versions of the schedule for each day. When ESPN did its make-over that feature disappeared, and any attempts to print a day’s schedule just produced the first couple of hours.

 

 

It took more than a week, but ESPN America wrote back:

 

Thank you for your comments and for being an ESPN customer! We monitor feedback very carefully as it helps us offer you the best channel possible. We will take your comments into consideration for future scheduling.

ESPN America is always working to provide a fair and balanced schedule as we try to serve the needs of fans of so many different sports and teams. For the most up-to-date schedule, visit our schedule page at: http://www.espnamerica.com/tv-schedule

 

This says almost nothing, and with the Spring Training games only a couple of days away, a look at the website reveals they haven’t done much. Once again all of this year’s scheduled Spring Training games for broadcast are from Florida, They are carrying a Tigers-Braves game on March 3, six days after the Grapefruit League opens, the next scheduled broadcast is a Yankees-Red Sox match-up 12 days later on March 15, followed by a Red Sox-Phillies game almost a week after that on March 21.

Why there are so few games is extremely hard to understand. Even harder is the lack of games in Arizona. Perhaps ESPN has failed to notice that both of last year’s World Series teams are in the Cactus League?

On the second question, there is in fact an improvement. If you try to print out a day of the ESPN America schedule, this year the whole day prints. It isn’t formatted for print, and the entire first page is a big black splotch. But it works (although you have to write in what day it is yourself since that information is above the page with the big black splotch.)

They do offer a monthly overview in PDF, but this is less useful for two reasons. One, ESPN America has a tendency to make it available first one or two weeks into the month, and secondly, they often change their schedules as late as the day of broadcast. You can’t trust the PDF.

A few years ago ESPN America’s predecessor NASN was just about the only way to watch baseball in Europe. But that isn’t the case anymore. With a subscription to MLB.TV, not only can you watch every game on a computer (and many on iPhones and iPads) rather than just the handful from ESPN, you can also pipe them into your TV from a PlayStation 3.

So listen ESPN, you don’t have a monopoly any more, there is an alternative. If you keep messing us up, we’ll just go with the alternative and cancel our subscriptions with you.

All Star Game Inflation Backlash

Am I the only person who thinks the baseball All Star Game has gotten totally out of hand?

First of all, there’s been a proliferation of events around the real game, the Futures All Star game, the Homerun Derby, and more. Personally I think the Homerun Derby is silly and proves absolutely nothing. But people seem to like it, and it doesn’t get in the way of the real game, since you don’t have to watch it.

What bothers me is all the hoopla before the game actually gets started. Living in Europe I’ve been listening and watching afterwards. On the ESPN Radio broadcast, it starts with a comment that the game will start in an hour. So I fast forwarded an hour, from where it was another half hour before the opening pitch.

Since I fast forwarded I have no idea what they were blabbering about, but it just doesn’t take that long to introduce a game.

TV is just as bad. I think it takes forever for them to inntroducd the players, but those guys have worked hard to get there and deserve the recognition! What bothers me is all the other stuff. Now they have a feature where they introduce people who deserve recognition for their work in the community. These people are great of course, accomplishing way more than me. But why are they occupying a bunch of time before a baseball game?

Between the end of ,presenting the players and the first pitch, it took 25 minutes. And that was in the rebroadcast with minimal commercials!

I just want to see the ballgame, and watch those great players in action. Everything else is just a waste. All Star inflation.