If you’re like me, you grew up spending your summers on the beaches of the Jersey Shore listening to Phillies broadcasting legends Harry Kalas, Richie Ashburn and Andy Musser calling the games of legendary Phillies players like Todd Zeile, Ricky Otero, and Wendell Magee…
Fine. Maybe that last part is a stretch, but those guys were the soundtrack of the summer.
For generations, baseball on the radio has been a natural marriage, but times they are a-changin’.
As such, the Oakland A’s are poised to become the first MLB franchise to abandon traditional radio in its primary market, instead turning exclusively to a streaming platform.
Baseball fans in the Bay Area hoping to catch the A’s on the go this season must turn to the TuneIn streaming service after the team and KTRB—it’s previous broadcast partner—failed to reach a renewal agreement.
Here’s A’s President Dave Kaval to explain the decision via this story from The Mercury News:
We’ve been looking to fans last year and the response to A’s Cast has been so positive. Everything is to podcasts and ability to consume content in a more tailored way. And a lot of people are younger, we’re seeing more new fans. We felt it was really important this year that we continued to amplify the partnership with TuneIn.
Maybe I’m not giving the more seasoned generation enough credit here, but a good chunk of any MLB team’s fanbase is comprised of older fans, and I’m guessing those older fans who are on the go aren’t going to be too psyched about streaming games through a third-party smartphone app.
Just check the replies to this tweet:
Some big news: No more KTRB. Oakland Athletics are off the radio waves in the Bay Area for 2020. All games will be broadcast on A's Cast.https://t.co/CuE7juaoCD
— Shayna Rubin (@ShaynaRubin) February 18, 2020
The A’s are spinning this as a tech-savvy decision by the team in an attempt to market towards a younger Bay Area audience, but they could, you know, just do both.
You may remember our old friend Kyle Scott—he used to (still does?) write here. Anyway, he weighed in on the topic:
Lots of baseball fans are 60 years old. They drive Corvettes. Not being on the radio is an affront to your hardcore fan, which, yes, says something about the state of your product. But this feels like making a statement for statement’s sake and not actually making a wise business choice. Dopes.
That seems about right.