For the first time ever, NBC Sports Philadelphia will broadcast a Phillies game exclusively online and not on television.
The Phillies’ April 3 road game against the New York Mets will only be available through the network’s website and mobile apps. This is because the game is at 7:10 p.m., and the 76ers and Flyers both play at the same hour. NBC Sports’ two local sports cable channels were already booked with those games.
The Sixers’ home game against the Brooklyn Nets is on NBC Sports Philadelphia, and the Flyers’ road game against the New York Islanders is on NBC Sports Philadelphia+. Those games will also be streamed through the channel’s website and apps.
“It’s becoming pretty standard to [fans] to consume games through streaming as opposed to only on linear [television],” NBC Sports Philadelphia president Brian Monihan said. He noted that Flyers games this season have averaged around 6,500 viewers per game online, and Sixers games around 11,000.
Monihan said there was discussion of putting the game on NBC10, which broadcasts some weekday afternoon and weekend night games over the air, But NBC’s national network is broadcasting a new edition of its popular music competition show The Voice that night, and that gets priority.
NBC10’s secondary digital channel Cozi TV — which is on many local cable systems, and is broadcast over the air as channel 10.2 — is available. Cozi TV carried an Eagles preseason game in 2016 that was also televised on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Monihan said once the better-known channels were off the board, his group decided on the online-only broadcast.
“We felt like it was a good chance to try out this platform,” he said. “We know that while streaming has gotten easier, we’re going to be very active leading up to this game letting everybody know how they can watch.”
It will not be the first time that a NBC-owned regional sports network broadcasts a game exclusively online. NBC Sports California did so last year for an Oakland Athletics game, also because of scheduling conflicts with other local teams.
The Phillies game will be kept behind NBC Sports Philadelphia’s TV provider authentication wall, which means it will only be available to cable TV subscribers who get NBC Sports Philadelphia in their subscriptions. You will have to sign in with your TV provider account to watch the game, as you would any other Phillies or Flyers or 76ers game on the channel’s website.
If you don’t get NBC Sports Philadelphia on TV — if you’re a DirecTV or Dish Network subscriber, for example — you won’t be able to watch the game.
Monihan said Major League Baseball does not allow local outlets to stream games online without an authentication wall, even if it is geo-fenced so that only Philadelphia-area viewers can watch.
The game will be available on the radio via all of the Phillies’ radio outlets, including flagship station 94.1-WIP in the Philadelphia region.
If you live in the Mets’ local broadcast area, the game will be available on SportsNet New York. For fans elsewhere, the game will be televised on MLB Network and streamed via MLB.com’s paid subscription platform.
This game is one of three Phillies games that won’t be televised this year. The other two are the April 4 road game against the Mets at Citi Field and the April 26 home game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citizens Bank Park.
They will be broadcast exclusively on Facebook, as part of a previously-announced package of 25 afternoon games leaguewide for which the social networking platform bought exclusive broadcast rights. To find them, search for “MLB Live” on the Facebook website or apps. More details are available here.
Facebook’s streams are free of charge, with no need for a TV subscription. The Phillies game will also be broadcast on the radio via all of the team’s outlets.
Because Facebook’s games are in the afternoon there haven’t been too many complaints. Indeed, fans stuck in their offices during the day might find it easier to watch the game on their phones or computers through Facebook than through NBC Sports’ website, or on television.
But there were many complaints on social media about NBC Sports not televising the game it has rights to. Here’s a sampling of them:
Really alienating the older generation of fans with this one. Find a way to put all the games on TV. This isn't 1990.
— Jeff Kerr (@JeffKerr247) March 22, 2018
That's absurd https://t.co/v01FuM1FFI
— Shlomo Sprung (@SprungOnSports) March 22, 2018
Already preparing for the phone call from my mother-in-law.
“Why can’t I find the Phillies game?” https://t.co/gFfZ0e7P4O
— Steve Moore (@Smoore1117) March 22, 2018
this seems dumb
— Jonathan Fusfield (@JFusfield) March 22, 2018
Sixers and the Flyers both play that night, and it's a good way to force people to download their app.
— Rob Tornoe (@RobTornoe) March 22, 2018
What year are we in? https://t.co/xdPabvNko0
— TSmith (@IrishTsmith) March 22, 2018
Maybe you're going to pick up a few younger fans on the website and apps, but you're telling the older fans that they don't matter. https://t.co/INahL0fQP5
— Joe Juliano (@JoeJulesinq) March 22, 2018
As for the rest of the season, NBC Sports Philadelphia will televise 138 games, NBC10 will televise 12 and NBC Sports Philadelphia+ will televise 8. All of those games will also be available through NBC Sports Philadelphia’s website and apps with authentication required.
ESPN is currently scheduled to carry the Phillies on one Sunday night national broadcast: the August 19 Little League Classic game against the Mets in Williamsport. That game, like all ESPN-exclusive games, is streamed online through ESPN’s website and apps, available with authentication to anyone who gets ESPN as part of their cable or satellite TV package.