For the first time in the history of NBC Sports Philadelphia, they’ll be offering a Phillies game exclusively online. The regional sports network, which is 75 per cent owned by Comcast and 25 per cent owned by the Phillies, announced their MLB schedule Thursday, and the April 3 game against the New York Mets stands out. Here’s what they have to say about that, from their release:
In 2018, 158 Phillies games will air on the NBC family of networks with 138 airing on NBC Sports Philadelphia, 12 on NBC10 and eight on NBC Sports Philadelphia+. The full 2018 Phillies schedule can be found here.
In a first for the network, the Phillies vs. Mets game on Tuesday, April 3 at 7 p.m. will be exclusively live streamed, accessible on NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and on the NBC Sports app. As previously announced, the Sixers and Flyers’ games on April 3 at 7 p.m. are scheduled on NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBC Sports Philadelphia+, respectively.
It’s understandable why this is happening, as both the Sixers (fourth in the NBA’s Eastern Conference as of Thursday with a 40-30 record) and Flyers (fourth in the NHL’s Metropolitan Division with a 37-25-12 mark, currently in the first wild card slot) are in playoff position, so those games are pretty important. And this is a rare case where even an overflow channel like NBC Sports Philadelphia+ isn’t enough, thanks to three games they have rights for being scheduled at the same time. They couldn’t easily put a game on their broadcast affiliate (NBC10) thanks to The Voice being scheduled that night, and while they did perhaps have the option of NBC10 alternate feed Cozi TV, NBC Sports Philadelphia president Brian Monihan told Philly.com’s Jonathan Tannenwald they felt emphasizing their streaming platform was the way to go here:
“It’s becoming pretty standard to [fans] to consume games through streaming as opposed to only on linear [television],” NBC Sports Philadelphia president Brian Monihan said. He noted that Flyers games this season have averaged around 6,500 viewers per game online, and Sixers games around 11,000.
…Monihan said once the better-known channels were off the board, his group decided on the online-only broadcast.
“We felt like it was a good chance to try out this platform,” he said. “We know that while streaming has gotten easier, we’re going to be very active leading up to this game letting everybody know how they can watch.”
But this is unfortunate for Phillies’ fans, as it’s the fifth game of the season, and one against a NL East rival in the Mets. And while many will be able to stream it, that’s always at least a bit of a hurdle for some. This isn’t going to be the only Phillies’ game offered exclusively online, though. Interestingly enough, their game the very next day against the Mets (April 4) is a Facebook-exclusive broadcast, one of 25 across MLB this year.
And the Phillies are involved in another one of those Facebook-exclusive games, April 26 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. So those who want to watch every Phillies game are going to have to take to the internet a few times this year. (Of course, if you do have a streaming setup, you’re good to go well beyond this; NBC Sports Philadelphia will be streaming games in-market to authenticated subscribers for the second-straight year.)
The network also announced that they’ll be doing plenty of other Phillies coverage, with the broadcast team of Tom McCarthy, John Kruk, Ben Davis and Gregg Murphy returning for their second season together, Mike Schmidt doing “Weekends With Schmidt” for home weekend broadcasts, Kruk bringing back his podcast, and pregame and postgame shows featuring analysts Ricky Bottalico and Tommy Greene as well as Phillies’ insider Jim Salisbury. But it’s the digital-only broadcast that’s the most newsworthy here, and it’s interesting to see that. NBC Sports Philadelphia didn’t have much of a choice with those other two games going on, but they’ll still probably take some flack from TV-only viewers as a result of this.