MLB- YouTube watchdog

Recently, I was at one of my favorite sports websites and tried to view a video that was a highlight of a recent Minnesota Twins game.  Well, unfortunately for me, the video was taken down by Major League Baseball (MLB) for copyright violation.  I continued to search for other relevant baseball highlights and came up empty.  I couldn’t find any broadcast highlights of the Red Sox 2004 World Series run.  Nothing from the Yankees’ clinching game 6 victory in this past year’s World Series.

What is the point of this “strategy?”  I understand why they may want to keep highlights of a recently played game as copyrighted material in hopes to drive web traffic to the team websites, the MLB Network, or MLB.TV.  One would think the league would want to have as many highlights on YouTube to continue growth of their very well known brand.  Perhaps MLB’s marketers or crack legal team know their target audience doesn’t go to YouTube for their baseball highlights.  If that’s the case, I would dispute that with this research I found by ESPN that shows most sports fans are in the 18-34 age demographic and are male.  Fairly obvious, right? Oh, and at the bottom of the page it mentions that “68% of Avid Sports Fans used the Internet in the past 30 days.”  Oops!

MLB is trying to push their World Series DVD sets on fans of teams that win the Autumn Classic.  I get that and it makes great sense.  However, there has to be a way for fans to have the best of both worlds.  Some free, some paid content.

Perhaps there is a very memorable game in the regular season that someone wishes to see over and over again.  An example of this would be the recent no hitter by Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.  One for me would be last year’s heart-stopping AL Central Division tiebreaker game between my Twins and the Detroit Tigers.  I am hogging 3 hours of space on my DVR right now because I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get that game on DVD or be able to see it again elsewhere.

At least they have full games from the current season available to stream if you have the MLB.TV subscription.  Why can’t they offer every game to be downloaded for a low price with copy protection?  They also have a classic game section where you can view (for $6.95 a year) some classic games, but there is only a selection of thirty games.  Why not raise the price and include much more?

It would be great if they made partial highlights available on YouTube (and possibly disable embedding to cover themselves on the copyright front) on their own MLB channel there to supplement highlights available at MLB.com.  The supplemental highlights could include more plays, player/manager interviews after the game, and maybe recaps by the team broadcasters.  I think that could be a great way to drive more traffic to MLB.com or affiliated team sites, yet still grow the brand by keeping some sort of presence on YouTube.

In my opinion, FREE drives brand growth on the internet.  The more free material your customers can get, the more likely it is they will be driven to some sort of purchase down the road and become life long customers.  Don’t get me wrong, I think their online strategy is decent in driving revenue, but I believe MLB is not seeing the forest of larger revenue streams through the trees of their paid content and constant pulling down of videos on YouTube .

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