It’s looking like one of MLB Network’s primary goals has been accomplished. The offseason show Hot Stove is taking it to the competition in terms of customer reviews. This comes both from what we’ve read and in conversations with a few of our lucky peers that get the MLB Network as part of their regular old cable package.
And this is a sad day. Not all of us will be lucky to get MLB Network without adding satellite. And we don’t want the hassle of adding satellite. We want Baseball Tonight to the right thing and sack up.
It’s because for so many years Baseball Tonight was the baseball show on television. We watched it in the golden era, man. Whenever you saw a great play, you immediately wondered if it was web gem worthy. When your guy went deep, you were immediately saying in your head ‘that sure as hell better get on ‘going, going, gone’.’
Somewhere in all the bright lights and all the love Baseball Tonight got over the years, it lost the gleam. It just wasn’t a must see program for the die hard fan anymore. We’re sure in many cases that it still gained viewership because it was the only guy in town. Not anymore.
The most recent review cites the analysis, the topics, the highlights, the guests, the demonstrations and the women as reasons why the new show is kicking BBTN’s proverbial butt. Here’s what they said about the topics, and if true; fans of a small market team like us (Reds) will probably be finding a way to get MLB Network on our flatscreen by the time April rolls around.
The Topics: Agree with the “east coast bias” notion with ESPN or not, there’s no doubting they certainly talk about a few teams much more than others. The MLB Network so far hasn’t really done that. “Hot Stove” might leadoff with a Manny update, but they don’t spend half the show talking about only the Yankees and Red Sox. They seem to treat every and division equally, at least so far. We’ll see if that keeps up on the network in a couple months, but I love what I’m seeing.
Whatever is going on in the world of Major League Baseball, they’re talking about it. For example, since the launch of the network on January 1st, here’s how a typical show goes: latest signings and trades, rumors of moves that could come from Heyman and Verducci, previews of individual teams and divisions, discussion of the Hall of Fame candidates or now inductees with Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice getting in yesterday, interviews, physical demonstrations(I’ll talk about that below), etc.
Now this is big time. We remember plenty of nights in which our Redlegs were 4 games out and we had a comeback win in the ninth inning only to have Orestes Destrade and Karl Ravech give us an ‘oh by the way’. That’s shitty. We’d like it if everyone got equal air time in a perfect world. Sure the Yankees and Red Sox will always trump us in life, but we don’t wanna be reminded of it by having a Pettite 5-1 victory getting 20% of the air time while our walk-off win gets zero reaction. It’s not fair.
It will be interesting to see if BBTN ups things in these areas once Spring Training begins. There were certain things at one point in time (whether you hate ESPN or not) that Baseball Tonight did really well. They’ve got to be smart enough to figure out exactly what that is and lure the religious watchers back in slowly. If not, they’re going to take a major hit because clearly the MLB Network is hitting on the hot button points that viewers like.