The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

XM Radio and Baseball

I suspect that most of you who read here regularly watch a lot of baseball on television. A pretty good number of you probably even have the MLB Extra Innings package through your cable company or satellite provider (for those of you who don’t, or don’t know, the Extra Innings package gets you access to watch just about every game that isn’t broadcast in your local area).

While all of that is great, XM Radio is stepping up with something a little bit different. It’s a combination of what’s old and great about baseball and what’s in store in the future. It’s something of a best of both worlds. XM and MLB have teamed up to offer a 24-hours, 7-days a week, baseball only channel (XM Homeplate on Channel 175) as well as the broadcasts of every game.

That’s right – you can listen to every major league baseball game on XM Radio. Originally, I was under the impression that they would be broadcasting both the home and road feeds of every game – but it turns out that they will “only” be broadcasting the home team’s flagship feed. That’s still a phenomenal product offering and not something that you could replicate previously. Well, I suppose you could have in recent years with some of’s subscription services. But XM radio is much more portable than those – plus it comes with all of the regular XM programming.

At this point I probably sound like a shill for XM, which I’m not – just a happy customer. And don’t get me wrong, the product is not perfect. The channel is still very new (February 15th was their first day of broadcasting) and there are a number of kinks to still work out. For instance, the studio announcers for the Channel 175 programming seem to run the gamut from being polished radio types (with less baseball knowledge) to baseball lifers with less radio experience. To illustrate that point, one of their broadcasters was recently updating the audience about the goings-on at Spring Training. He stumbled when reporting that Randy Johnson missed a scheduled BP session, as he appeared not to know that BP stood for batting practice. While such a miscue would go virtually unnoticed on regular radio with a broader audience, I suspect that the MLB Channel 175 audience immediately thinks of batting practice when they hear the term BP (or at least thinks of Baseball Prospectus – however the context here would give away the meaning more than anything). In time I expect this to even out somewhat - as the ballplayers get more comfortable on the radio, and as they find folks who know radio who can talk the game or the folks that they already have become more familiar.

Back to the selling… the product is still new and the content on 175 is still finding it’s way. But you can already listen in to Spring Training broadcasts live (although they’re not broadcasting split-squad games, much to the dismay of some callers recently). That’s not something that you could do previously out of the home team’s market. By signing up now, you can also lock yourself into some pre-paid plans at today’s rate ($9.95 per month and less) instead of the new pricing schedule of $12.95 per month which goes into effect in early April.

I’m really looking forward to this season. Between XM radio and the Extra Innings package, I’ll be able to create an alternate reality for myself devoid of “real” news, politics, and pretty much everything else. Instead I’ll be able to fill my days with baseball – and baseball anywhere in the majors at that – via television or radio, whether I’m at home, in the car, at work, or walking around the neighborhood. The only thing I’ll miss will be the Boomerang network, but I suppose I can catch up with my favorite old cartoons with TiVo during rain delays.


Post a Comment

<< Home