After a year of outlets laying off writers to focus on advertiser-friendly video content, the essential statistics website Baseball-Reference announced Sunday a pivot to video of its own.
In what was obviously (and thankfully) an April Fool’s prank, the site rolled out a four-and-a-half-minute video version of Mike Trout’s stats page. The clip featured a voice reading off the outfielder’s bio information exactly as it appears on his B-Ref page, followed by his stats from his first few seasons in the Majors, as goofy clip-art graphics flashed across the screen. Midway through, the video paused for an “ad” for a Blue Apron-Statcast collab called “Lunch Angle.”
“Do you wish that instead of being able to easily look up and read a stat, you had to find it by watching a very long video?” Baseball-Reference’s tweet asked. “Good news! We’re changing our sites to concentrate on videos.”
Here’s what Baseball-Reference on video looked like:
Do you wish that instead of being able to easily look up and read a stat, you had to find it by watching a very long video? Good news! We're changing our sites to concentrate on videos. Take a look: https://t.co/W6xXgZDqDD
— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) April 1, 2018
For a goofy April Fool’s gag, Baseball-Reference’s video is pretty astute, capturing exactly why the industry-wide pivot to video so greatly frustrated readers and writers last year. Often, it seemed publications were interested less in producing novel and compelling video content and more in cranking out anything they could throw an ad on. Hence Baseball-Reference’s cheap graphics relaying the exact information that could have been conveyed in print, dragged out over four and a half monotonous minutes.
Thanks to Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, publications have less incentive to embrace video than they did before, so the pivoting figures to slow down. But may the Baseball-Reference prank be a lesson to everyone in media that some information is not meant to be presented via video.