04/05/09 3:30 PM ET
MLB.TV offers more than ever before
Improved picture, choice of announcers among features
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
"I have been using the MLB.TV service for the last two years," he said. "It's a lifesaver, as coverage of games here is fairly poor, especially if I want to see my Mariners. I catch most of their day games live, and any games in more friendly time zones live also. Only very rarely do I stay up to see them play night games at home. As devoted as I am, a 3 a.m. start time is just a tad too far. I'll usually catch the highlights, at least, the next day, though."
Beau Frusetta is a Red Sox fan in Phoenix, and he has MLB.TV Premium.
"Having an HD stream available from MLB.TV this year is amazing -- some other professional sports leagues should take note," he said. "I think what most people don't realize is that you can hook your computers up to those lovely 40-inch-plus LCD HD TVs that everyone has these days and stream HD content from the internet in full screen to their TVs. For $20 a month, that's a smoking deal to be able to see all the Red Sox games that I miss during the year being in the Phoenix market."
Michael Brendan Dougherty is a Mets fan in Washington, and he has MLB.TV Premium.
"This is my third year subscribing to MLB.TV," he said. "I'm a New York Mets fan who has been working in D.C. all this time. Being able to watch my home announcers was a great addition at the end of last season. The improvement year-to-year is amazing. Having seen the World Baseball Classic player, I'm astonished at the smooth HD quality picture this year. I can watch on my laptop from across the room. Even though I'm moving back to New York in a few weeks, I'm going to keep the service so I can keep up with all the players on my fantasy baseball team."
If you also have MLB.TV Premium, then you are ready to experience a Major League Baseball season in a more fun way than any fan ever has before. If you don't have it yet, then join the crowd, because the season begins on Sunday night, followed by 13 Opening Day games on Monday, and subscriptions are under way at $10 off last year's price.
Everyone has been talking about the vastly upgraded MLB.TV Premium media player, as you can see from the comments on the MLB.TV Blog throughout extensive public beta testing that included the World Baseball Classic and Spring Training games. Let's face it: MLB.TV is a bigger and bigger part of the baseball picture every year. It has obliterated two common objections of the past -- that the picture quality was not sufficient and you didn't know if you would get your home team's broadcast feed.
Done and done.
Picture quality is the overwhelming No. 1 breakthrough in 2009. Where HD is available, you get HD on your computer for these live games now. MLB.TV Premium features new adaptive bit-rate determination, so it will detect your speed and give you the ideal picture, plus the manual slide capability for you to adjust it with the right number of bars. The first time you do that is kind of a thrill ride in itself.
Not only will you be able to choose home-and-away for the broadcast feed, but as a new touch in 2009, it incorporates MLB.com Gameday Audio so that at any time you will be able to go from TV to radio booth and back. That is called a perfect game.
You also will love the playback controls with Premium live game DVR and jump-to-inning navigation; the picture-in-picture, which will be huge during the season as you need to follow other games in your pennant race (think positive); the built-in live scoreboard of the day's games; the game summary and box score widgets; the full-screen and multi-view switching; the user-preference setting that can show/hide score spoilers; the archived games; and more to come.
"I really want to try out the new DVR functionality built in, as well as the player stat stuff on the screen," Frusetta said. "I'm pretty sure MLB.TV is going to be EPIC this year. It's also a much better deal than you'd get on some other services like satellite/cable, and you can take it with you if you have a laptop -- not much better than that!
"It's hard to get out to Boston to go catch a game at Fenway. Heck, its hard to just get tickets. But with MLB.TV, I've got full access to live and archived games 24/7 -- definitely a baseball fan's best friend for the 21st century."
Here is a comment from a user named mattes84 in Germany on the MLB.TV Blog: "WOW guys!!!! Without having seen the first pitch, I'm completely flashed by the quality of the stream. It is amazing. I want to give you guys a huge compliment for all your work. I'm a huge US sports fan from Germany. And I'm so happy that MLB.TV Premium is available here in a quality others can't compete with."
All out-of-market live games are available with a subscription to MLB.TV Premium. The ESPN Sunday Night opener featuring Braves at Phillies is a national blackout, but there is the big slate of games on Monday that will start the live MLB.TV Premium action, all featuring the customary pomp and circumstance of Opening Day. Included is the traditional opener in Cincinnati that follows their Findlay Market Parade, and an instant rematch of the last American League Championship Series featuring "Big Game" James Shields against Josh Beckett, live at beautiful Fenway Park.
Here are the matchups to see live on MLB.TV Premium as a starter:
Mets at Reds, 1:10 p.m. ET, Johan Santana vs. Aaron Harang
Indians at Rangers, 2:05, Cliff Lee vs. Kevin Millwood
Royals at White Sox, 2:05, Gil Meche vs. Mark Buehrle
Rays at Red Sox, 2:05, James Shields vs. Josh Beckett
Rockies at D-Backs, 3:40, Aaron Cook vs. Brandon Webb
Yankees at Orioles, 4:05, CC Sabathia vs. Jeremy Guthrie
Nationals at Marlins, 4:10, John Lannan vs. Ricky Nolasco
Pirates at Cardinals, 4:15, Paul Maholm vs. Adam Wainwright
Cubs at Astros, 7:05, Carlos Zambrano vs. Roy Oswalt
Dodgers at Padres, 7:05, Hiroki Kuroda vs. Jake Peavy
Tigers at Blue Jays, 7:15, Justin Verlander vs. Roy Halladay
Mariners at Twins, 8:10, Felix Hernandez vs. Francisco Liriano
A's at Angels, 9:05, Dallas Braden vs. Joe Saunders
It's Sabathia's official debut as a Yankee after scoring that huge contract that everyone talked about last December. It's time to get to know Oakland's young rotation, starting with Braden. It's a chance to see the same Halladay you might have drafted as Mr. Reliable on your fantasy team. It's Manny Ramirez back in a Dodgers lineup after that crazy wait for Spring Training, and an opportunity to see all of the 750 players who comprise the Opening Day lineups, and the reason we keep coming back to baseball.
Millions of people have subscribed to MLB.TV Premium, and the 2009 service is a breakthrough technology that makes it even more fun. Another regular season is now upon us, and it is time to join fans around the world like Fleming, Frusetta, Dougherty and mattes84. They know what you could know next.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.