MLB.tv: ADVERTISEments, the loud, the repetitive and the lame

I am an avid Detroit Tiger’s fan, and I also live in Boston, which means Tiger’s games are not an option on local TV. Furthermore, I spend my daytime hours building online-video advertisement software. Lastly, I rarely rant on this blog, but this is one of those occasions…

my take on online ads

On first impression, advertisements are annoying wastes of space that can often drive users away from a website. I get that. However, the necessity of ads on free sites cannot be completely shurked away with user-first dogma. The reality is, the ads you see on free sites pay for the bandwidth you suck from that sites servers. Its up to you to decide if the tradeoff is worth it. If the cost of viewing the ad is not worth the benefit of being on that particular website, leave – don’t come back, and if enough of you do, that site will fade away soon enough.

Now ads on subscription based sites, that is where things get hairy. The implication by the site here is that the cost of the service needs to be offset more than through membership fees alone. This can be a reality, although I’m sure margin growth beyond covering costs is also a huge driving factor.

why MLB.tv is pathetic

In the case of MLB.tv, the costs of all their streaming must be insane. That said, I can forgive them for starting to inject advertisements between innings on their premium service. However, it was a tactless exercise of poor judgement to not give a fair warning to members that their $120 membership would include advertisements. But, to watch the Tiger’s games I am willing to put up with surprise ads.

It’s the manner in which MLB.tv executes its advertisements that is short-sighted, rushed, and just plain terrible:

1. The ad volumes are obnoxiously loud.
2. The ads often go beyond the commercial break and cut into game time
3. There is no frequency capping of advertisements

VOLUME

The increased volume of the ads is inexcusable. The ads are often 100%+ the volume of the game. If I get up to, say wash the dishes or do anything away from my computer when a commercial break starts, I have to dash back to my computer and mute it before my neighbors start pounding on their floor. Really, it’s that bad. The game streams are generally below average volume and the ads are cranked up – way up.

cutting into game time

Late in games, strategic pitching changes will be cause for commercial breaks. It is beyond annoying to miss the ensuing at bat because MLB wants to advertise their Premium service to me, yes from the Premium service feed from which I am already a paying customer.

over and over and over over and over and over and over again

Even the most basic advertising network knows the value of frequency capping the ads. Sure, MLB.tv is probably running these ads on a CPM basis (CPM = cost per milli, meaning they get paid a flat rate for every 1000 impressions of the ad they show) so they want to crank out as many impressions as possible. But an advertiser know that the worst thing you can do is instill negative emotions toward the brand. And believe me, seeing the same overly loud, obnoxious advertisement cut into the game every half inning has left me with a swellingdigust for Subway, ACE hardware, Wolfenstein, and the various MLB-dot-services. Yes, i just listed MLB.tv’s robust selection of advertisements that they have been using for the entire season! Yes, since April!!

I decided to write this after leaving a comment on the MLB.tv support forums. I noticed that many people have been complaining about the way in which they handle (or rather don’t handle) their advertisements. Sadly, each thread seems to get locked after a brief and generic ‘I will pass on your comments’ response from the mlbsupport account.

Here is my addition to yet-to-be closed thread complaining about the ad volume during last nights broadcast:

I second this problem. That ACE ad is very obnoxious. A consistent volume between the video stream and the ad is the only humane way to inject ads into a video service.

Also, I gather your advertiser traction must be lacking (we see the same ads over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over), but how about doing some simple frequency capping on a per ad level. Each redundant impression served imparts a growing resentment for this service and the advertisers that attempt such ill conceived marketing.

Hopefully they will get the message and make some changes. This service has great potential, but such lack of forethought and user experience (yes UX extends to your advertising services as well) is a black eye and a kick in the junk.

9 Responses to 'MLB.tv: ADVERTISEments, the loud, the repetitive and the lame'

  1. ew says:

    totally agree, same issues here — if i hear one more ad for becoming an umpire i will freak. how much more do i have to pay to be rid of ads? plus it is so risky to be behind innings in a live game because it jumps ahead after commercials to live action, the bane of time shifting…

    any ideas on how to leverage a response from mlb tv?

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  5. Derek says:

    As of April 7, 2012, that annoying ACE ad with the squealing tires is still in commission. I will NEVER patronize that store as a result.

  6. Larry says:

    We all need to call the FCC about this. They are implementing new rules re: the volume of ads for cable this upcoming December 2012, and we need to petition our government to make sure those ads include MLB tv. So obnoxious!

  7. Bud Selig says:

    HEY UMP!

  8. Jonathan Schor says:

    The Lords of Baseball have started to do this extra loud thing on AT Bat.

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