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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Why is there no on-demand Gameday Audio?


Once again, nothing there is a wonderful thing. Here I am on the other side of the planet and I can watch any MLB game I want, live or on-demand afterwards, in a variety of ways. I can watch on my iPad, on my Apple TV, even my LG TV set has the MLB app built in (although it doesn’t work as well as the Apple TV app).

I can even watch the games on my iPhone, and listen to the radio broadcasts of the games live. But once again as in previous years, only live, you can’t listen to games on-demand afterwards.

This makes no sense. I use my iPad for video, my iPhone is my listening device for radio and podcasts. Since most MLB games are on in the middle of the night my time, I would love to be able to listen to the audio during my morning commute. Weirdly, I can (watch and) listen to the archived TV broadcast then. But not only is that a waste of bandwidth, listening to the TV is not the same experience as listening to radio. Without the visuals, the TV commentary isn’t enough.

I can listen to the games while traveling on my netbook (if I still lugged that around with me). I assume I could listen to them on Android phones and tablets, and probably Windows devices as well, since they all have Flash (although I don’t know for sure as MLB may disable something there).

The radio broadcasts are archived (you can listen to them with a PC), so all MLB has to do is open up the app to access the archive. (And if people listened instead of watched that would lessen the load on the MLB servers.)

Three Springs in a row I’ve asked on the Gameday Audio Support Forum if on-demand would be available during the coming season. The first year the response was along the lines of “That’s a good idea, we’ll pass it along to the developers”. I see someone made the same suggestion about 10 days ago, with the response “We’ll pass this along to the developers”.

An easy fix that would probably make a lot of people happy. Inexplicable why they don’t do it.

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, including Gameday Audio. The various packages for 2012 have now gone on sale. This year there is a major improvement. Last year, if you bought an 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, 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).

On-demand Games for iPhone/iPad this Year?

There may be good news for those of us in Europe who want to follow the coming MLB season. It appears that there is a chance we’ll be able to listen and watch games on-demand on our iPhones and iPads.

Last year the At bat 2010 app only offered access to live games, not terribly helpful for those of us 6-9 time zones away from North America. At the same time, subscribers to MLB.TV and Gameday Audio have always been able to access games after they were played, including on netbooks.

Why should a netbook user be favored over an iPad user? I wrote to Customer Service about this, and have received the following reply:

Response Via Email(Amanda Jackson) – 02/02/2011 09:28 AM
Dear George:

Thank you for your inquiry.

We are working on having archive games available for the iPhone and iPad. We will continue to make it possible for this feature to be available to our customers.

Sincerely, Customer Support

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.