STREAMING SATURDAY: MLB on streaming is sort of… meh

It’s April, friends. To me that means one thing: baseball. It’s my favorite major league sport and I get excited every year when it comes up. Last year the world of baseball changed drastically with the coming of the pitch clock. I’m one of the few people who didn’t like this “innovation” because I think it ruins the leisurely pace of the game. It also means more commercials per hour, which takes me out of the flow.

With so many commercials, I decided to try streaming. I figured that some of the “gameday” feeds would just show the field while the commercials were going on. And you know what, I didn’t care for the streaming experience.

What’s with the video quality?​

A decade ago, I was impressed that MLB.TV could give you an HD feed of the game you wanted to watch. But that was a decade ago. There’s something unnatural looking about the feeds on MLB.TV, something that isn’t there in other streaming stuff. If I had to guess — and this is just a guess — they’re using 4K or 8K high frame rate cameras and that’s the problem. You know how there’s a play on the field and within seconds there’s a closeup replay in perfect slow motion? Generally that happens because all of the cameras are capturing 4K or 8K, at frame rates of 120 or more frames per second. So, when the director wants a replay, not only is there a choice of angles, there’s a way to zoom in on the action and still get an HD picture.

The only problem with high frame rate and high definition capture is that it sometimes seems a little unreal. We’re accustomed to a little blurriness in our images. It matches the way we perceive reality. But with high frame rates, everything is captured perfectly sharply no matter what happens. That means there’s a slightly otherworldly quality to everything, and for some reason it’s far more obvious in the streaming feed than in the broadcast feed. The irony is, the streaming feed is probably better quality and that’s what makes the difference so clear.

The delay gets me. I know, it shouldn’t.​

In my mind, I know that the broadcast feed is about 3-6 seconds behind live. In my younger days I actually lived close enough to a ballpark that I could hear the roar of the crowd a second or two before I heard the pitch called on the radio. Today I don’t live that close, but I figure the delay is still there. It’s probably longer because of all the satellite uplinking. But then, the streaming feed is a good 3-4 seconds behind the broadcast feed. Since I don’t have the “really live” sound to contend with, the broadcast feed’s delay doesn’t get me. But when I watch the streaming feed I’m keenly aware that I could be seeing the action just that much sooner if I watched it on broadcast TV or satellite. It’s just a little annoyance, but it takes away from the game.

I really want to love the extra streaming features…​

and it’s true. If you’re using the streaming feed you get a ton of extra features. You get stats, multi-view, and so much more. But that’s just not how I want to watch baseball. Baseball’s a great game for me because you just sit there and take it at the pace it’s given. The perfect baseball experience is within the ballpark because there’s just no choice. The game unfolds at the speed it unfolds, and that’s that. I don’t watch baseball to get all wound up in six games at the same time. If you do, that’s great for you. But that’s not me. And in the end, that’s why broadcast really works for me. I consciously put the remote far away from me and put my phone in the other room. I just immerse myself in the game as if I were there. If I were streaming, it would be too tempting to see “what else” was going on… that’s just how streaming works.

In the end, I would probably learn to live with streaming sports if it was the only option. I’m just glad it isn’t.

The post STREAMING SATURDAY: MLB on streaming is sort of… meh appeared first on The Solid Signal Blog.

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