Apple knows. He’s read your Twitter posts, seen the articles and probably even knows about the nasty things former Met first baseman and longtime Mets announcer Keith Hernandez said about the debut. of Friday Night Baseball.
At least the evening had everything a baseball fan could hope for. In Game 1 (there are two a night for a total of 50 games this season), the Mets played the Washington Nationals and endured non-functioning stadium lights, a 9th-inning rain delay and a bench clearance near the scuffle when Francisco Lindor was hit by Nationals pitcher Steve Cishek.
That last moment should have been (and still was mostly) the story of this game, but all people could talk about on social media was Apple TV+ and how it handled the game.
Apple announced the MLB partnership in March and, perhaps, set itself up with the first streaming game between two highly-watched teams with, at least in the case of the Mets, intensely devoted fanbases.
Fans, industry watchers and other play-by-play pros ripped the Apple TV+ team hired to cover the game: Melanie Newman (play-by-play), Chris Young (analyst), Hannah Keyser (analyst) and Brooke Fletcher (journalist). Hernandez joked during the upcoming broadcast of the Mets game covered by him and Gary Cohen that Mets fans have already had a horrible broadcast experience this season. Admittedly, it’s the same slightly technophobic guy who, a week later, told on the air how he was almost caught in by a phishing scam.
The comments that complained about how game-by-game didn’t seem to know how to emphasize the importance of good games and how they talked about some of them, and sometimes topics unrelated to the game or baseball.
The fact is, however, that it can all be part of the plan.
Will Apple’s change work?
Apple deliberately doesn’t do things exactly the way they have been for decades of streaming games. It intentionally broadens the diversity and perspective of typical game advertisers. He deliberately assembled teams that offer new demographic faces and new perspectives.
It might take some getting used to, but Apple, which seems to have bigger baseball plans than just this Friday night slot (although we’re guessing here), not only wants the traditional baseball fan enjoys these games, but also hopes to build audiences beyond endemic.
Perhaps that’s why, despite heavy criticism, Apple is sticking to these gaming teams. As it listens and learns from critical feedback, it will make adjustments, but during all Meanwhile, Apple will always try to manage a difficult balance between satisfying the old (some of which had never tried the Apple TV) and accommodating the new. She knows she can’t afford to alienate existing fans, but as a tech company she can’t help but innovate in America’s favorite pastime (by the way, Apple Friday Night Baseball also broadcasts in Canada, Mexico, Australia, South Korea, and Japan – all centers for baseball fanaticism).
The technological hurdles were real for those who grew up watching games on TV where all you had to do was press a single number on a remote control to bring up the match of the day. Apple TV and the original TV+ content platform was a new frontier for them, and Apple didn’t spend time teaching longtime baseball fans how to access the game.
At least these Friday Night Games are free for now (it’s unclear when that ends), and if you have an Apple ID you can sign in to TV+ through Apple TV or a variety of other platforms. third parties to watch the games. And really, Mets fans had no choice because, other than radio, there was no other place to watch this Nationals game (this broadcast blackout will continue for all 50 Apple baseball games TV + Friday).
Home racing technology
Critics and tech frustration aside, there were a few notable Apple touches. Yes, the company has splashed its exclusive SF Pro font all over the place to give proceedings a very Apple feel.
The company also used some high-end camera tricks, like using the Megalodon camera rig that the NFL and CBS golf games use to great effect.
Megalodon, which is not a new camera but a set of technologies (a Sony a7R IV camera mounted on a DJI Ronin-S gimbal, a 6-inch field monitor and a backpack to carry external batteries and a transmitter wireless 1080p), creates a recognizable cinematic effect. The players, who usually walk on or off the field, are shared while the rest of the scenery is blurred. It’s a cinematic effect that instantly amps up the drama. One might wonder, however, why Apple doesn’t use its own iPhone 13 Pro, which also records cinematic video.
Apple also uses a Phantom camera to shoot super-high-speed footage that can then slow down a slider to show what’s really happening when the pitcher throws it, the ball dips, and a player passes by.
Also, if you noticed that the overall game looked a bit sharper, it might be because Apple is streaming at 1080p 60fps. That’s above what you’d get from a typical broadcast or cable game. Unfortunately, no one is offering these games in 4K yet.
Apple is still in its infancy as it tries to promote these games on Apple TV (the app), TV+ and even in Apple News. It might get more eyeballs that way, but in the end, it has to win over baseball fans. He failed to reach first this run, but there are 50 more this season and, potentially, a long MLB partnership ahead of him to craft a run.