Monday, April 19, 2010

In Which I Plead to Watch Commercials

I have mostly positive feelings toward MLB's iPhone app, but I do have one gripe.

It's great to be able to watch live games on your phone. But once commercials hit, you get the screen above. No commercials, no music, nothing for two minutes.

This is because MLB is giving you the local TV feed of the game (for example, the Dodgers broadcast as seen on Prime Ticket in Los Angeles). The local advertisers are paying to reach the local audience, not a national one.

Of course, one could close the app or switch to a different game, but the network lags involved in doing so make it not worthwhile.

There are many content models that involve a free, ad-supported version and a premium, ad-free version. For instance, you can buy the DVD boxset of your favorite TV show if you don't want to sit through the commercials. Sports differ from scripted shows because they are best enjoyed live, and the frequent commercial breaks come with the territory. The MLB app is one of those rare exceptions in which paying customers would probably prefer commercials, or something else of visual interest, instead of a blank screen.

Perhaps MLB isn't getting the kind of revenue offers it would like for such ads. But any additional revenue, however small, is always good for the bottom line, assuming that the ads would generate more money than they would cost to solicit and stream.


Wigi said...

I also like the ads in the MLB products. I think they should leave them in... But they don't because MLB often sells that between-inning time for ads they run... but they don't do that very well, and when they do insert ads, you might get the same ad every half inning for a whole game.

That is actually more annoying than the blue screen.

The other problem with the blue screen is that you can't tell whether something has happened to the feed... so you start to wonder whether you've lost it (the feed) or not.

Greg Finley said...

You're right about the repeating ads, at least when it comes to the PC version of I think I could recite that whole "become an umpire" commercial from memory.