In February 2008, my wife, daughter and I moved to Central Florida after spending a lifetime growing up, becoming adults and parents in Michigan. So that meant I had to find a way to follow my teams, 1,000 miles away from their home stadiums.
To help out fellow displaced fans everywhere (and those in Detroit wanting to follow other MLB games), I will highlight the options, pros and cons of each baseball watching package.
I have found a couple different ways to keep track of the Tigers, including one year when I subscribed to a phone app for the radio broadcast. After growing tired of hearing Jim Price call games with a mouthful of food, I bought the premium subscription on MLB.TV in 2012, and renewed it for this upcoming season.
MLB EXTRA INNINGS
Nearly every major cable carrier now offers Extra Innings. Bright House, Comcast, Time Warner, WOW! and Verizon Fios among them. DirectTV offers the package, but currently Dish Network has no plans to carry it. Here’s a full list.
Prices may vary from provider to provider, but the price for Extra Innings in 2013 is around $199. Providers may allow customers to break it up over a couple months, or pay it in one billing. Also, some, like Bright House, offer an early-bird special at $189 if purchased by April 7.
-The game feed is exactly the same as is seen on Fox Sports Detroit
-97 percent HD broadcasts
-Game mix channel (watch up to eight games at once).
-Turn on the TV and the game is right there. Connecting other devices to the TV is not needed and there is no searching online to pull up the game feed.
-If you are not at your home, in front of your TV–no Tiger baseball for you.
If someone has a computer and internet, MLB.TV is available regardless of what cable or satellite provider is in the home.
There are a couple of options here. There is a package for $109.99 per year ($19.99 per month) or $129.99 per year ($24.99 per month) for the premium package. The premium package provides both home and away broadcasts. Which is a huge advantage because who wants to be subjected to Hawk Harrelson when the Tigers visit Chicago?
The premium package includes free apps for Apple and Android devices, as well as gaming devices (PS3, XBox 360), Apple TV, Roku, Boxee and more. A full list is here.
Many of these devices connect directly to the TV, allowing you to watch there instead of a smaller screen.
-The ability to watch anywhere. Going on vacation? Use your laptop, phone or tablet to keep up with the team.
-In-game highlights of other action
-Mosaic screens–the ability to watch four games at once, or Picture-in-Picture to watch two games at once.
-Audio overlay. Not a fan of Mario and Rod and would rather hear Jim Price chewing his food? You can overlay the radio broadcast over the TV feed–or just have the ballpark’s natural sounds with no commentary at all.
-Widgets for linescores, pitch-by-pitch graphs, and fantasy tickers
-MLB’s At-Bat app (which costs around $20 in the app stores) is included with the premium package.
-If the internet feed coming into a home is weak, the picture can be blurry at times.
-The broadcast may stop, or stutter (replaying events that just happened over and over again until the feed is manually refreshed)
-Early season games are often “buggy.” Each year the package is offered to more and more devices and MLB often has on the job training for the new devices. After a couple weeks, the picture quality usually gets better.
A word of warning, all of these games are subject to blackout. So if you are a Tigers’ fan that only cares about the Tigers in and around Detroit–this is not for you. You’ll never be able to see a game through these packages (though you will always have FSD’s games). Saturday afternoon games not broadcast on the main Fox Network are blacked out on each of these packages.
A rare blackout occasion can arise if there is a game on Sunday night, not being broadcast by ESPN. The Rangers often play Sunday night games during the summer and the Tigers had a make-up game in Oakland recently that was played on a Sunday night and could not be shown, even locally on FSD.
Also, often when the Tigers are on Fox Saturday Baseball, we here in Florida do not get the game if the Braves or Rays are featured So alas, we’re stuck enduring Jim Price’s hot dog eating during games.
So, choose wisely baseball junkies, and remember Opening Day is just 20 days away!