Mariners and streaming: It’s ‘ruining the fan experience’

As the Mariners kicked off a critical road trip with a game Friday against the Mets in New York, countless fans likely turned on the TV to find they couldn’t watch the game. Friday’s game aired exclusively on Apple TV+.

The same thing happened when the M’s defeated the Kansas City Royals last Friday.

“In many cases, you have to have four different streaming services this year to see all the games,” Dan Rayburn, a streaming media analyst — and diehard Mets fan — told KIRO Newsradio.

And if you’re hoping to pop into your local sports bar or restaurant to see the game, Rayburn stated “Many of these streaming services are not set up inside a bar or restaurant.”

Apple+ has a lock on marquee Major League Baseball Friday night games. Amazon Prime has an exclusive on Yankee baseball in a chunk of the northeast. Peacock is streaming Sunday morning games. Rayburn said this is a game changer for the professional sports industry, literally.

“For instance, there never used to be Sunday morning games at 11:30 a.m. for baseball,” Raymond said. “But the moment Major League Baseball (MLB) made that a new time slot, they could sell it so it could show up on Peacock.”

Yes, he said “sell it.” And he said that’s what this is all about.

“It really just comes down to the business economics. There’s so much money being offered by these tech giants,” Rayburn said. “In some cases, it’s billions of dollars every year, and some of these deals are seven to 10-year deals, so this is the new norm.”

He suggests that if you’re looking for a particular game, go to the schedule page of your favorite sports team’s website. It should list where you can see it.

If it’s on a streaming service, you can often sign up for a free trial or start paying a monthly fee to join that service and cancel it when the season is over. But if all this has you feeling a little confused or nickeled-and-dimed, you are not alone.

“Well, unfortunately, I think they’re ruining the fan experience,” Rayburn said. “Let’s not think that we’re alienating the fan who’s really getting frustrated and upset that they don’t know where to get the game or what it’s on or how many different streaming services they need to have.”

And he’s not buying that this is the wave of the future, which will bring in younger fans.

“The young kid is not the average fan of Major League Baseball. They’re also not the ones with all the money,” Rayburn said. “So I think they’re forgetting about their core audience. The ones who actually follow our favorite teams, our favorite players- want to buy the merchandise, want to go to the games.”

At least the baseball playoffs are scheduled to be on the major networks, but not for long if MLB follows what the NFL is doing.

“It was announced that Peacock, which is NBC owned by Comcast, is going to have their first ever, exclusive (NFL) playoff game in 2024 streaming only,” Rayburn said. “Now we’re starting to see playoff games in the NFL come to the point where you can only watch them online.”

All that aside, there is one place tried and true where you can experience NFL and MLB games. Rayburn said he’s returned to listening to baseball games on the radio.

“I’ve actually really been enjoying radio, myself,” Rayburn said.

Full disclosure: I completely agree.

This story was originally published on the My Northwest Website.