What you need to know
- Apple TV+ aired its first two Major League Baseball games on Friday night.
- It did not go down well.
- Fans complained about outages, the graphics, and the commentary.
Apple TV+ debuted its first-ever live sports on the platform last night, but its Friday Night Baseball offering has been absolutely slated by fans for a number of unfortunate reasons.
Apple aired two games, the New York Mets at the Washington Nationals at 7 p.m. ET and the Houston Astros at the Los Angeles Angels game at 9:30 p.m. ET.
As you might expect for a completely new platform showing Major League Baseball for the first time, smatterings of the chatter around the overall experience pertain to logging in to Apple TV+, creating an Apple ID, and getting the stream to work on various devices, on the whole, however, there don't seem to have been too many problems with folks finding the games, but it didn't work out for everyone:
Unfortunately, the problems really seem to have started when the games got going, with fans from every corner of the sport registering complaints about a swathe of different issues.
Plenty of fans reported outages of the stream during the game, notably during the Nationals Mets game which saw a large spike of reports on Downdetector.
Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV+ has a distinctive graphics look that is very Apple. Some folks including viewers over at r/baseball on Reddit seem to have enjoyed the very minimalist graphics that didn't include a scrolling scoreboard, news, or any commercials plastered on the screen.
Not everyone was impressed however, some mocked the seemingly low-effort Mets starting lineup graphic:
Interestingly, viewers over on the Apple TV+ Reddit marveled at the graphics, one commenting:
UI looks good. Stream is clean. I like the odds they show on the bottom right. I REALLY enjoy not seeing scrolling scores and news at the bottom.
Even fans who didn't enjoy the overall experience seemed pretty pleased with Apple's stream quality, lots of viewers over on Twitter were digging the 4K resolution.
This is ironic, given it's broadcast in 1080p. According to one Reddit user, developer mode on the Apple TV using a Mac via Xcode reveals the full quality details:
1080p native, 60fps, ~8 mbps (AVC H.264) video bitrate, ~256 kbps (AC3 Dolby Digital) audio bitrate.
Plenty of viewers were likely benefitting from upscaling.
Oh boy. Despite some favorable comments on the broadcast graphics and some impressive quality, the overall reaction to Friday Night Baseball was dominated by the response to the commentary on the games, and the verdict was not good.
A huge number of tweets (with plenty of interaction in agreement) absolutely slated the Apple TV+ broadcast teams. One fan wrote:
Nah man I usually give these new booths a chance. But this Apple TV broadcast is basically a non baseball podcast over a baseball game.
I'm sorry but these Apple TV plus announcers for Friday night baseball are absolutely terrible
One viewer quipped "Someone tell the Apple TV announcers that there's a baseball game going on they're supposed to be talking about."
Watchers on Reddit expressed a similar sentiment, with criticism leveled at the announcers of both games. Fans lamented "awful commentary", with criticisms including that announcers were talking too much over the game, and that the levels of excitement didn't seem to match the play on the field. One viewer said a play-by-play announcer was getting too excited about routine events, while KFC Barstool lamented that there was "no enthusiasm" to the commentary, mocking a home run call:
Other viewers were angry that the commentators talked extensively about Apple products, food, "their pets for five straight minutes", squirrels, and more. One viewer said, "I just had to listen to a conversation about a great throw by Brantley get broken up by talking about sunglasses."
@KFCBarstool said the last straw came when an announcer said "someone once said…availability…factors into ability," which may have been an attempt at the sports adage "the best ability is availability."
As noted, there was and is some promise to broadcasting baseball on Apple TV+, clearly the graphics style and high quality has resonated with some viewers. But the overall consensus is not good. Barstool's @TheClemReport put out a grade poll for the first MLB on Apple TV+ that has almost 4,000 votes, 64.6% of which awarded the broadcast an F. Only 4.3% gave it an A:
Viewers on Reddit described the broadcast as "nightmarish" and "absolutely brutal to listen to."
There were some bright spots, not least the moment that Jeremy Peña hit his first home run in the 7th while his parents were being interviewed in the stands:
Hopes were high for Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV+ when it was announced in March, and no doubt Apple will be hoping to draw sports fans to its original Apple TV+ shows and movies who might not otherwise have seen them while shaking up the sports broadcasting space. It's just the first weekend, and Apple has 22 more free games to broadcast over the next 11 weeks, but the initial reaction is clear; Apple has a long way to go in convincing baseball fans that Apple TV+ is worth their money in the long haul.
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