YouTube, along with other video streaming sites, has become an avenue for fans to relive their favorite sports moments. Dwight Clark’s touchdown in the 1982 NFC championship game, Michael Jordan’s jumper in the ’98 finals, the list goes on.
Unfortunately, the only way you’ll be able to see any highlights from Major League Baseball is through video game re-creations of them.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig has worked to ensure no MLB highlight videos can be streamed anywhere except on the teams’ official sites.
If videos are posted elsewhere, the league immediately sends a cease and desist letter. It’s a no-nonsense operation, and it is holding the league back.
Online videos should be a medium for younger fans to learn the history of the game, without having to sift through all of Ken Burns’ Baseball, and for devoted baseball followers to revisit the memorable moments — no-hitters, diving catches, World Series wins — that fans live for.
The MLB has to embrace the modern age and create an official channel on YouTube, much like the NHL and NBA. The advertising revenue should make the venture nearly as profitable as the league’s current system, which has worked for every other sport.
By funneling all the potential traffic from YouTube to MLB.com, Selig believes he can maximize profit.
By diverting any fan who wants to watch an MLB highlight on YouTube to MLB.com, his site attracts more views and thus more money from advertisers.
This strategy puts the ball in Selig’s court, enabling the league to charge whatever it deems reasonable. If the league allowed YouTube to stream videos, it would lose that control because YouTube individually handles advertising revenues.
But the league would still be able to make that money through other avenues.
YouTube is a premier site for video hosting and sharing, and the traffic on the site easily surpasses that of the official team websites. Offering MLB highlight videos will only increase that traffic and increases revenue for YouTube and MLB.
Though there wouldn’t be much of an impact on profits, the impact on fan engagement would be immense.
Currently, the MLB only streams videos of recent highlights. Developing a YouTube channel and uploading vintage highlights will broaden its fan base, while also doing a great service to lifelong baseball fans.
The major issue for the MLB, though, is that people are starting to get angry.
Many members of the media have complained about the league’s archaic policy on video sharing. The league should take corrective action before this becomes an even more public issue.
The convenience of YouTube, and its reputation as a reliable, streamlined platform make it the home of participatory culture in today’s society, and the MLB has made a huge mistake by dispersing its content only into affiliated team sites. It has made these videos impossible to find, impossible to relive, and it has kept the fan experience behind the times.
It’s time for Selig to make the logical move to appeal to the younger, more technologically inclined demographic. These are the people who will determine the MLB’s future, and they need to be able to learn about its past.
Cyrus Behzadi is a freshman majoring in communication. His column, “The Extra Point,” runs Wednesdays.