As the 2016 minor league season wound down, an unusual set of circumstances led to a St. Louis Cardinals game featuring the soon-to-be Appalachian League champions, the Johnson City Cardinals, to be televised.
With the big-league Cardinals having no scheduled game on Monday, August 22, the club’s television rights-holder, FOX Sports Midwest, surprisingly slotted in a Cardinals minor league game that evening instead. It was not just any farm team, either, it was a rookie-level club at least six steps away from the majors.
FOX Midwest spokesman Geoff Goldman explained how their involvement came about.
“WMYA-TV was producing the game for the local market, and made it available to us,” Goldman said. “Since the major league Cardinals weren’t playing Monday, we picked up the game to give fans a look at some of the organization’s prospects.”
The key to making this happen was the reality that the area television provider footed the bill for the production costs and sold their advertising locally. Essentially, all FSM really had to do was run the game feed.
Well, that is not entirely correct.
Those who caught at least a glimpse of the game may have noticed familiar graphics. Part of the deal was that FOX Midwest provided that capability, giving the rookie-level game a big-league look.
That level of graphics sophistication is also missing from Minor League Baseball TV (or MiLB.TV) internet game coverage. More often than not, the MiLB.TV feed is a stationary camera with sound taken from the radio broadcast – certainly not regular television quality.
In the big picture, production costs would be far too prohibitive for FSM to initiate its own minor league coverage across multiple venues, not to mention unknown advertising demand and a narrower set of interested viewers compared to Cardinals telecasts. This would never be practical, so while one-off minor league telecasts like we saw this time might happen once in a while, do not expect them with any regularity.
MiLB.TV remains the only game in town if you want to see minor league games over the season. Now if they would only invest in supporting Android devices and external boxes such as Roku – but those are gripes for another day.
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