One of the features of the popular MLB At-Bat app is push notifications, which can be customized to alert you to a wide variety of league news, team-specific news, games starting and ending, score changes, lead changes and more. What’s considered “league news” took an interesting turn this week, though, as to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak (which started Sunday), MLB At-Bat is now sending out push notifications (apparently to users who have “League News” enabled) for the anniversary of each of DiMaggio’s hits in the streak. As these are written in present tense and phrased exactly like current hit notifications, many have been confused by them, and many more are upset.

Discussing the anniversary of DiMaggio’s streak is one thing, and even trying to present it in real time may have some fans (surprisingly-large numbers of people have embraced other history-in-real-time accounts like @RealTimeWWII,) but doing that in an opt-in format (an account people choose to seek out) is one thing, while doing it in an opt-out format (people receive it until they change their settings) is another. MLB created a @TheStreak Twitter account to “live”-tweet DiMaggio’s at-bats, and that’s fine, but it only has 817 followers; that may more accurately represent who’s interested in this than “every baseball fan subscribed to At-Bat notifications of league news.” Setting opt-in as default is problematic and can create a huge backlash even for something of value, as U2 and Apple found out a couple of years back; setting opt-in as default for confusing, “live” updates of something that happened 75 years ago and that most users probably don’t care about is a very questionable decision. At the very least, MLB should offer an unsubscribe option beyond just turning off “MLB News”. At best, they should make this opt-in rather than opt-out.

[Josh Koebert]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.