While Curt Schilling has been fired by ESPN and reportedly passed on by Fox, he may still be offering baseball commentary this season. Schilling has tweeted this week about the idea of charging fans to watch Periscope broadcasts of his commentary during games, and he tested things out with a couple of Periscope broadcasts Wednesday night. On Thursday, he tweeted that he’s going to test this further with a free trial for fans during Sunday’s Cubs-Nationals game:
We are going to give this a preliminary run sunday, 2pm est. I'm gonna watch the cubs nats, if that sucks we'll watch or do something else
— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) May 5, 2016
Schilling has made it clear that he won’t be broadcasting the game itself and that this is only intended for those who can otherwise watch it, which may help him avoid rights issues, but MLB may still not be thrilled with an individual profiting off something around their games without any involvement from them. Twitter, which owns Periscope and is trying to get into the sports broadcasting game itself, may not love this idea either. Offering alternate commentary on Periscope for free, as it sounds like Schilling plans to do Sunday, probably isn’t too much of an issue, but some hackles may be raised if Schilling decides to try and start charging for this. (It is funny that he’s managed to figure out an over-the-top strategy before ESPN, though.)
This is an interesting idea in general, though, and something that might have some appeal. Schilling has plenty of fans who might at least give this a try, and it’s possible we could see something like this for other sports, particularly those whose announcers are often criticized. Disappointed in the national feed of a playoff game? Maybe the local announcers can do a Periscope feed for those who want some more homerism, which might be a step up from the old strategy of listening to the radio broadcast while watching the TV on mute. Of course, watching people watch sports isn’t always the best (as ESPN Voices and other Megacast feeds have shown), but alternate commentary as a second-screen experience while you have the game on the TV might work out. It could be more similar to Turner’s successful TeamStream broadcasts, where the visuals are largely the same as the standard feed but the audio is different. There are potential pitfalls here too, of course, including if second-screen commentary will sync up properly, but it’s an idea that might have some merit. We’ll see if it works out for Schilling.