Toronto Blue Jays fans concerned that they might be shut out of the new Facebook-only broadcasts can rest easy: the games will be available in Canada.
Although the social media platform’s Facebook Watch video service is so far only available in the United States, the scheduled Blue Jays games — April 18 against the Royals and May 24 against the Angels — will be accessible via a link within Facebook, according to a spokesman for the Blue Jays.
This is, though, the only way the games, both weekday afternoon contests, will be able to be seen live, other than in person. The broadcasts will only be available on MLB.tv and the MLB app, Major League Baseball’s digital-viewing subscription service, 90 minutes after they are completed. And as an MLB production, Sportsnet will have nothing to do with the broadcast — it won’t just be an MLB transmission of the usual Blue Jays broadcast.
The arrangement is part of a trial run of 25 MLB games being offered exclusively this season on Facebook, the social-media giant currently besieged by privacy concerns and the role it has played as a conduit for the spreading of false information, particularly in the last U.S. presidential election.
The first of those broadcasts, Wednesday’s Mets-Phillies game, was met by a predictable backlash from fans who couldn’t find it in the usual place, or who found it but did not like the quality of the production. Coverage included “Facebook Broadcast of Mets Game Runs Into Glitches and Complaints,” from The New York Times, and “MLB faces major fan backlash for exclusive Facebook deal,” from Sports Illustrated.
Digital-only sports broadcasts, a new frontier for leagues trying to combat decreasing cable viewership and a generation of fans who do not watch television, have not been without their hiccups. The NFL has broadcast selected games on Yahoo and Twitter, and it moved the former Sunday Ticket package in Canada to a new service, DAZN, which was swamped by complaints early in the season over the quality of its digital feeds.
Major League Baseball, which selected which games will be broadcast digital-only, has only announced its Facebook plans through May, so other Blue Jays games could yet be added to that service.
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