Saturday, June 27, 2015

How MLB Has (Nearly) Ruined Gameday Audio

If you pay any, even passing attention to SMB tweets, you may have been understandably puzzled by irritated comments like this:
The reality is that your scribe, sadly, lives outside of the A's radio network and is at the mercy of MLB's Gameday Audio and AtBat apps.

I listen to a lot of baseball, to the point where I sometimes question why I have tuned-in to a meaningless late-season Padres - Rockies tilt. Until this year, MLB had an outstanding, nearly flawless audio product. In a world of intense money-grubbing, they had done the right thing -- simply stream the radio feeds as is. I could dose off to Ken and Vince and Ray on a late summer afternoon as if I was listening over the airwaves. All of this changed this year. And, it embodies the worst quality of this business masquerading as a public asset that we love so dearly.

During Spring Training KGMZ broadcasts the ads disappeared when listening on a phone/tablet. An uneasy silence bridged innings. Then, once the regular season began, extremely-loud-and-incredibly-repetitive ads polluted audio feeds.

During one game here is what I heard, every single break:

Commercial 1: Home Depot deck products.
Commercial 2: Burger King "Crossain'wich"

Commercial number two, especially heard in repetition, makes any sane person want to jab a chopstick into their eardrum.

On YouTube, 1055thex fairly accurately recreates the sheer aural horror piped into my headphones at a higher decibel than I was listening to the game at:



So, how did a great product become loaded with offensive junk? Well, follow the cash train. In a press release likely read by me and one other person, Triton Digital trumpeted their partnership with MLB.

The spin is wonderful, with emphasis in bold mine:

This agreement with MLB Advanced Media, the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball, will mark the first time targeted audio ads will be inserted into the Gameday Audio feeds, providing listeners with more relevant ads and giving advertisers access to an engaged and valued fan base....

“We selected Triton Digital because of its experience and expertise in the streaming audio space, and are confident Triton’s delivery of targeted and more relevant advertising will help advertisers and enhance the Gameday Audio experiences for our fans,” said Noah Garden, EVP, Business, MLB.

This was the only really honest quote:

“MLB.com Gameday Audio is an extremely enticing opportunity for advertisers,” said John Rosso, President, Market Development, Triton Digital.

The Naked Money Grab

Thankfully, minor improvements have been made the ad insertion process, making it just barely tolerable. It remains an uneven (inserted commercials are now too quiet) mess that is the antithesis of quality broadcasting.

The whole situation is a sad example of how the chase for cash is never-ending. Fans can pony up $20.00 for Gameday Audio or even $130.00 for MLB.TV premium and still be monetized further.

If either Triton Digital or MLB Advanced Media want to issue a retort, we'll publish it. However, they are probably too engrossed reading thank you notes from users praising the "more relevant ads" and "enhanced experience."

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