Want to watch the World Baseball Classic? Well then, BT Sports has your back!
Fans in the UK have been eager to find out how and where they can watch the World Baseball Classic in the build-up to the new tournament. Many fans in Britain get their baseball fix through the MLB.TV app which features every single regular-season game. Unfortunately, similar to the postseason schedule, The Classic will not be broadcast on the network.
Maybe, seeing as the Great Britain National Team is involved, then the games will be televised on the BBC red button or even ITV? Sadly, British viewers will have to wait for the pipe dream of baseball on freeview for a while longer.
On the other hand, for those with a BT Sport subscription, you can watch every single game through their app. This is great right? Well, kind of. Firstly, it is fantastic that there is a way for fans in the UK to back their nation from halfway across the world and watch as history is made. As long as they are more than happy to pay the monthly rate of £29.99 without the broadband, compared to the £21.99 per month that MLB.TV offers.
Considering the fact that MLB.TV offers much more thrilling content and all 162 games of their favourite, it is unsurprising that many fans with that membership will be put off by the pricing that BT offers.
The offer of the monthly pass for BT is terrific for fans of multiple sports. Football, rugby union, UFC, WWE are featured on BT Sports services alongside MLB. The service should not be taken for granted, but can it be better? For pure baseball followers – definitely.
Die-hard fans are most likely to purchase the monthly pass in order to view all the games, but what about casual fans? A group which we should be encouraging to find interest in the sport. These fans are just finding out about baseball because of GB’s involvement, and sadly there is a lack of incentive for them to tune in.
Moreover, taking into account that some of GB’s games are played during early hours in the UK, why would fans purchase a pass if they will not be able to watch it live anyway?
If it were on freeview or even MLB.TV, at least most fans are already paying for baseball’s premier service and can watch the games back the day after.
It would be unfair to say that BT Sport is not enough. Quite frankly, it is the BT subscription that offered British fans the chance to witness Yordan Alvarez go off in the bottom of the sixth. Cranking a home run 450 dead centre to win the Astros their second ring. If it was not for BT Sports, there would have been no way for UK fans to tune into the most important games of the season.
At least there is a broadcast provider for baseball in this country, a home for baseball in the country. It would just be nice if the home actually marketed the sport.
There has been no official announcement from BT Sports to proclaim that the WBC will be on its service, nor has there been any form of advertisement for the tournament outside of baseball outlets on social media.
Incredibly, if you search for ‘BT Sport World Baseball Classic’, the most recent article in the search will show The Mirror covering the IPL broadcast on BT Sport.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: To emphasise Alex’s point, the only 2023 content on the “baseball” link on BT Sport’s website is for January’s showing of ESPN’s Yankees/Dodgers documentary]
So how are fans not involved with the sport in the country meant to know where they can cheer on for GB? Well, the only way to know is by going out of their way to look on MLB.com and go through the ‘Where to watch?’ section and go through every single country until they land on ‘United Kingdom’.
The lack of advertising from the broadcast provider and news outlets is a huge step back after Great Britain made their nation proud and qualified for the ‘World Cup of Baseball’.
In fairness to BT Sports, it is not their job to create buzz. What is more disappointing is the lack of coverage from the primary news stations in the UK, such as BBC, Sky News and ITV. They have the platform that can bolster the ball game, create widespread awareness and help build the community for grassroots baseball in the country.
The MLB Network (based in the States) has even done its own feature on Team GB and included the clips of St Gregory Primary cheering on for the nation; where is BBC News’ coverage?
It is moments like these that young children will never forget. I can remember when London hosted the 2012 Olympic Games. I was growing up in a small town in south Somerset where popular sport did not have much of an impact; the infamous Olympic relay ran through our high street. There I was, trying to peer through the legs of the crowd and seeing the fiery beacon fly high past the tumultuous atmosphere. As a 12-year-old, I was mesmerised by the event; that torch was a symbol of greatness in this country. So why can a bat and ball not be?
As a massive baseball fan, it is incredibly frustrating to see the major sport which originated in this country be ignored. With the likes of the NFL and NBA being a central figures for Sky nowadays – we can only hope that the MLB will receive the same treatment in the future.
BT Sports have the rights to televise a maximum of 416 regular season games (out of a possible 2430 games). It is an honourable showing when you have to consider the amount of captivating showings from other sports the service provides, as well as being the only place to watch baseball purely in the UK. Yet, this relatively small number of regular-season fixtures does beg for much more.
Ultimately, BT Sport is the hub for all things baseball in the UK. They showcase the regular season and are giving the GB National Team a platform to perform in front of countless viewers. However, I hope for the day when baseball has a prominent brand amongst other British media. Regardless, whack on your telly, grab a beer – it is baseball season!
Alex is one of the latest contributors to join the Bat Flips & Nerds team. Look out for more content focused on baseball in the UK. You can follow Alex on Twitter @alex_elkay21