MLB's Web Video Strikes Out on Opening Day
Major League Baseball's opening day turned into a frustrating affair for many subscribers to its fee-based MLB.TV live game video-streaming service.
Subscribers encountered disruptive technical problems on Monday that included slow response times at the MLB.com site and problems with an upgraded media player.
For starters, the new version of MLB.com's Mosaic media player remained unavailable until around 4 p.m. Eastern Time, although six games had started between 1:05 p.m. and 3:05 p.m.
"With this being MLB.TV's most anticipated Opening Day ever, we appreciate your frustration," reads a posting Monday at the official MLB.TV Mosaic Blog. "Ultimately we ran into conflicts that were buoyed by an entire suite of new products rolling out simultaneously ... [We] will be monitoring the support forums here around the clock while we ensure that everything is stable."
But everything wasn't stable. Problems with Mosaic's operation have continued. In a message posted mid-afternoon Tuesday on the official Mosaic technical support forum, an MLB.com representative said the problems were expected to be solved in time for Tuesday night's games. There were no daytime games on Tuesday.
"Yes, the Mosaic is not working currently. You will receive two possible situations: 1. Loading forever. 2. Unable to verify your location message. We will have the issues resolved by game time," wrote an MLB.com staffer identified only as Shane.
Robert Bowman, president and CEO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, MLB's interactive media and Internet company, echoed that expectation in a phone interview. "I believe that tonight there will be no issues," he said. The first of tonight's eight games is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m.
Frustration was high among premium-level MLB.TV subscribers, who pay either $19.95 per month or $119.95 per year. They were promised an improved "TV-quality" picture this year, thanks to enhancements to Mosaic and to the service in general.
Nick Mavro, a premium subscriber since 2006, is getting tired of MLB.TV opening-day glitches, and the current problems had him questioning whether he should have signed up for this season. "When they cannot get it right on clearly their most 'glorious' day, it is very frustrating. In hindsight, I would opt against signing up again," Mavro, a Toronto businessman, said via e-mail.
After finally installing Mosaic Monday afternoon, the system didn't allow Mavro to sign on, instead giving him a message that it couldn't validate his location. It was a problem that persisted for him Tuesday afternoon and is consistent with the latest status update from MLB.com's Shane in the support forum.
MLB.TV subscribers' locations must be validated because the online broadcasts are subject to blackouts, to prevent people from watching the game online if a local TV station is carrying the game.
Mavro called customer support and after a 20-minute wait, a representative took his number and promised to call him back, but never did. "This is not a free service. People pay top dollar to sign up for this. Don't leave them in the dark," Mavro said. "It is the smugness that annoys me. They know that you cannot get this anywhere else, and therefore believe they have the right to do as they wish without repercussion."