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:
- 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.