MLB Struck Out With Free Videos On Facebook

Free livestreams of pre-season games on Facebook didn't entice fans to click over to Major League Baseball's website to buy subscriptions, so the social media freebies are being discontinued.

Free livestreams of pre-season games on Facebook didn’t entice fans to click over to Major League Baseball‘s website to buy subscriptions, so the social media freebies are being discontinued.

That’s what Bob Bowman, chief executive officer of MLB Advanced Media told All Things Digital.

When blogger Peter Kafka asked the CEO whether the Facebook video streams generated any new business and whether the offering will continue, Bowman replied:

As a conversion tool, it was de minimus. But that didn’t bother us, because we were using it as a promotional vehicle, to get people excited about baseball. And to see how many people would take time out and watch it. We had tens of thousands each day doing it. [But] we’re not going to do the embeddable player for the regular season. What we found was during the past few weeks, as many people clicked the link (back to the MLB.com site) as clicked the embeddable player. One might think that the embeddable player would get a lot more clicks. But a lot of people are so used to seeing video on a full screen, with full features, that they ended up back here.

We appreciate the business decision Bowman and his team made. But come on, people don’t watch spring training games on any medium, so expecting them to entice people to pay for more baseball video doesn’t really make sense. If MLB had struck out after offering a free in-season game on Facebook, then we would agree that the service doesn’t need to continue.

So, we think MLB needs to stream an in-season game on Facebook. It doesn’t even have to be free of charge, but it should at least cost less than a typical game stream on their site — perhaps Facebook Credits could be used to pay for the video, much like how Warner Brothers has embraced this digital currency for streaming movies on the social network.

Sure, this would cost MLB.com and MLB.tv some amount of money but that’s what some would call a loss leader — meaning you lose some money today in order to earn a lot more in the future. Perhaps MLB could simply show one in-season game for free, and tie in an incentive to get people to subscribe to more games.

Readers, what do you think about MLB’s decision to discontinue livestreams of games on Facebooks?