Baseball is the only sport I care about in the slightest, and I’ve been a Cubs fan for most of my 36 years. There was a brief time before I knew what baseball was that I wasn’t technically bleeding Cubs blue and I had to take a short break in the 2000’s in order to decide if I can handle any more disappointment, but other than that, big fan.
Over the past few years, I’ve consumed all of my baseball through the MLB’s various streaming services. This has generally consisted of web browser based video players, the Roku app, and the MLB At Bat mobile app.
None of these has ever been perfect. Audio issues, low quality, and massive buffering have all been frequent. However, in 2018 things have taken a severe turn for the worse, and MLB support seems completely unable to help.
I work a lot, so I rarely get to stream games live. That means I don’t don’t want the games spoiled before I get to watch them. What follows is the sad state of affairs of MLB content streaming, and how each one of them will break your heart if you don’t want to know the score of a game until it ends.
The Web Browser Player
What’s better than having the ball game playing in the background while you work? How about not having it ruined by a video player that can’t remember the “Hide Spoilers” setting between games? MLB has recently “upgraded” from a Flash-based player to something else, and in the transition, they lost the ability to remember that important setting between sessions (and sometimes just randomly during a game or when switching between games).
Here’s a screenshot before enabling “Hide Spoilers”:
And here’s one after enabling “Hide Spoilers”, with the line score still visible. What??
Sometimes it doesn’t show you the entire line, just the total for the current inning before the inning is over.
Here’s what MLB support had to say back in April:
For the 2018 season we are happy to announce that we have launched a brand new, full definition 60 frames per second HTML player. Adobe flash is no longer required to view MLB.TV. Due to this and other improvements, hide spoilers is not working currently in the MLB.TV Media Player also the ability to skip commercials is currently disabled on a desktop. On-demand 2018 video archives will continue to be available. We are working to improve content to the product offering. Please check back for updates.
It’s now June – the issue persists.
The MLB Roku App
Roku streaming devices are wonderful. They’re fast, easy to use, and reliable. But not the MLB app. It too forgets the Hide Spoilers setting, and there is no way to reset it without seeing the scores on your screen at the same time.
MLB support recommended uninstalling and reinstalling the app. I did that, but it had no effect. I even tried another Roku device with a brand new installation; same issue.
Here’s what MLB support had to say back on May 1st:
Thank you for your email. The Roku hide scores has been escalated for further investigation.
As of June 18th, the problem still exists.
One really great feature in the Roku app (not found in the web player or the MLB At Bat App for some reason) is the recap. It’s a great, short overview of the game with a professional voice over summarizing it.
Unfortunately, the preview text is shown while loading the recap always spoils the game. I realize this is a minor complaint since you’re about two minutes away from finding out the result anyway, but still, it takes the surprise away for no good reason.
The MLB At Bat App
Need to catch a game on the go? MLB has you covered! The MLB At Bat app has a ton of great functionality but one thing it fails to do properly is – you guessed it – hide spoilers.
Although there is a feature to hide scores, this doesn’t actually hide the headlines from the news slider below the box scores. Those headlines almost always include spoilers.
MLB Tech Support Doesn’t Instill Confidence
Over the past year, I’ve exchanged dozens of Emails with MLB tech support trying to resolve these various issues. Not only was no progress made, but their answers were bafflingly simplistic. They usually told me to uninstall and reinstall the app or, as described above regarding the web player, just admitted that the newer version is missing features from the previous iteration.
Last week, I followed up once more on my issues with the Roku app. A person named Henry who identified himself as the Technical Manager called me and confirmed everything I’ve written in this post. He suspects that the web browser video player is at fault and that each time it incorrectly resets the “Hide Spoilers” setting that gets synced with the Roku app, turning it off there.
That’s the first time I’ve heard an actual explanation for the issue and it makes sense, but Henry wasn’t able to give me an ETA for a fix or provide any workarounds. Hopefully, these issues have risen to a higher level now and will get the attention they deserve, but after a more than a year of waiting, I don’t have high hopes.