I spend a lot of time writing about the negative side of the baseball world. I can’t help it, those who pay attention know that there is a lot of negative stuff that happens on a near-daily basis. Even with me not writing about Major League Baseball as much, there’s no reprieve. Unaffiliated leagues suffer from many of the same issues that plague affiliated ball and I end up having plenty of negative space to fill. This time out we’re going positive, because if there’s one thing in the baseball world that always makes me happy it’s CPBL TV.
For those unaware, CPBL TV is the streaming service for Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League. The reason I’m writing about it today? CPBL TV is a genuinely great service that is the model all other streaming services should endeavor to emulate. That may seem like high praise, and it is, but as we dig deeper into the service it’s quite easy to see why they are the best streaming service around.
First and foremost, accessibility is the key. Unlike Major League Baseball, the CPBL isn’t a household name. To that end, they need to make sure that people can easily follow their league. They’ve done that by having a service that is clearly laid out and easy to navigate. It doesn’t matter that it’s in a foreign language, once you’ve signed up (CPBL Stats has a great guide to help with that part) and logged in it’s easy to watch the games as they happen or later on in the day if the early start times don’t jive with your schedule. CPBL has also bolstered its service via the league’s Twitter feed. It’s in English, and this makes following along with the happenings in the league pretty easy. Combine that with the resources available via the previously mentioned CPBL Stats and getting into the games isn’t hard.
Those are periphery elements, where CPBL TV truly begins to shine is in its content and its presentation of said content. There are no blackouts on CPBL TV. By signing up for the service you get every game of the season and playoffs. We’re not talking low-grade broadcasts either, these are as professional as they come. In-game score bugs, pitch speed readings, multiple camera angles, play-by-play, etc. It may seem like this is just the way it should be, but there are plenty of leagues where this isn’t the case. The professional nature of CPBL TV’s presentation is easy to suss out based on the fact that I have watched countless games on the service in the past four years and have never once encountered any sort of technical difficulty or issue with a live stream. The service is available on a website and mobile app, both of which allow casting to a TV screen or device of your choosing.
If CPBL TV’s content merely ended at the CPBL regular season and playoffs it would still be a good service. However, there’s more to what CPBL TV offers and that’s why it’s a great service. Future League, the CPBL’s minor league, and Asia Winter Baseball League, a CPBL affiliated winter league, games are also included in the package. With CPBL TV you’re ultimately getting three leagues for the price of one. In one given season that leaves a subscriber with somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 games, they can watch. That’s a lot of content, well-produced content at that.
The bow that ties the CPBL TV package together is the price point. $45/year is all you will pay for the entire CPBL, Future League, and AWBL seasons. For a while now I have felt that the price point that CPBL TV has chosen (they recently instituted a reasonable increase from $35/year) is the main driving force behind the site. It’s an amount that makes sense given the content the service provides. It’s not an astronomical amount like we have seen with other unaffiliated streaming services. Nor, is it a month-by-month deal with all kinds of caveats in place about what you can and cannot watch. You pay $45 once and for the entire season you get everything, that’s hard to beat.
For some, the fact that the website and mobile app are in Mandarin may be a barrier. However, I’ve never felt that is an issue. Baseball is a universal language, it took me all of about two minutes to figure out what meant what on the website and app. Navigating CPBL TV is easy as is watching a game and following along even though the games are broadcast in Mandarin.
When it comes to an unaffiliated streaming service the main factors to my enjoyment are stream reliability, ease of access, and fair pricing. Combine all three categories together and it’s easy to see why CPBL TV is the best service out there. More leagues would be smart to look at how the CPBL has handled its streaming service and to try and do the same. There’s a reason why CPBL has seen its international footprint grow the last few years while other foreign leagues of an equal or higher level have stagnated or shown little comparative growth. You can’t beat what CPBL TV offers, give it a shot and you’ll quickly see the truth behind that statement.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Chinese Professional Baseball League