Before I say anything else, I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to discourage anyone from buying the app. If you’re a baseball fan, you absolutely should. $20 for every radio broadcast of every game all season long on all of your devices? It almost feels like theft. I renew mine every year and I absolutely intend to keep doing so. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to complain when the quality of the service I’m paying for starts to drop, and this year…Jesus Christ.
I haven’t used it as much so far this season as I usually do due to my WWE Network obsession taking up more of my stuff in the background time and because I catch most of my Jays games on the radio, but when I do it’s been one problem after another.
The first thing I noticed was that the thing was dropping feeds left and right (insert like name of least favourite player drops fly balls joke here). I expect that during spring training because for some reason that’s how it’s been every year, but once opening day hits they usually have things together and problems are rare. But in April I found myself frequently having to use the somewhat lower quality alternative feeds that they hide behind the help button on the audio screen, and sometimes even that wasn’t enough to keep a consistent stream. At first I thought our wifi might have been the problem, but ruled that out pretty quickly when I realized that the router was having little to no trouble with anything else we’d been throwing at it. In fact it had been better than it had been in some time, we think because a mystery person whom we had christened The Hog either moved or changed internet providers. My suspicions were backed up by the unusually frequent app updates I was seeing, updates that do seem to have fixed the problem.
But though that problem is resolved, a couple of fairly major issues remain.
For starters, what’s up with the audio quality? the desktop version of Gameday Audio always had its volume issues (quiet games and loud commercials especially), but I’d always found the At Bat app to be a much more even listening experience. It wasn’t always perfect, but what is? The point is that because the sound was so much better I’d pretty well abandoned listening to games on my computer in favour of plugging either my phone or iPod into my dock. But this year, things are just odd. Sometimes I’ll start a stream and can barely hear it even when I crank it up to full volume. Stopping and starting it 2 or 3 times fixes it to a degree, but only enough that I don’t have to have it quite as loud. And that’s a good thing, because when the bumpers and commercial breaks hit, ow! And if it doesn’t do the overly quiet thing right away, sometimes it’ll wait and drop the volume suddenly forcing me to do the stop and start to fix it.
And speaking of commercial breaks, can we please leave them alone? If not, can we at least stop dinking with them until you people can figure out how to insert your classic moment clips into the broadcasts correctly and have more than like 4 of them? Swell as I’m sure it was, I don’t need to hear Adam Jones make a great catch 17 times in 3 hours. And I especially don’t need to hear it during breaks in the action that aren’t even pauses for commercials. Speaking only for Jays games I’ve listened to out on the balcony, these inserts have interrupted the out of town scoreboard more times than I can count, interviews with players and coaches at least 4 times, an ask the experts segment, a conversation about the pros and cons of the National League adopting the designated hitter rule that I was quite enjoying and at least one sports update from my local station which prevented me from hearing the hockey scores I’d been waiting for. In short, please knock that shit off. It’s infuriating.
I’m not sure why you’re doing this, but I appreciate where you might be coming from. Whether it’s a contractual thing that doesn’t allow you to air certain commercial breaks anymore or something you’re trying out because research is telling you that people don’t want to hear ads, the idea that you’re trying something new that might add some value for the listener is nice. Innovation is a good thing, but innovation that you took the time to get somewhere in the neighbourhood of halfway right is even better. Instead of testing it out on your paying customers in the most annoying manner possible, run your own private servers and tinker with it there until it’s ready for prime time. That way if it’s not working out you won’t have upset anyone and as I’m sure you know, it’s a lot easier to get the masses to spend money with you when they don’t kind of want to end your face.