Superhero fans know Bruce Wayne as a billionaire playboy by day, and Batman by night. For baseball fans, broadcaster Robert Flores has built up his own “superhero” routine in two different entertainment platforms.
Flores made a name for himself with his work at ESPN, appearing on ESPNews, SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, and numerous other forms of programming throughout his tenure.
The broadcaster later made the switch to his new home with the MLB Network in 2016, and also does some extra work as a studio host for the NHL Network.
“I’ve enjoyed the experience so far,” Flores said. “It’ll be four years this coming March and it’s gone by very quickly. I’ve enjoyed working with our analysts because I’ve learned so much about the game through them, from them. Just a different way of looking at the game, what plays into it, the building of organizations and things like that, so it’s definitely been an eye-opening experience.”
Two years into his tenure with the network, it was announced that Flores would replace Matt Vasgersian on MLB Network’s “MLB Central,” co-hosting alongside Lauren Shehadi and 16-year MLB veteran Mark DeRosa on weekdays at 10 a.m. EST.
“I like the morning show format and I like our crew,” Flores said. “Lauren and DeRo are great to work with. I also like the crew behind the scenes, from our producers, from our coordinating producers to really everyone behind the camera. It’s a real collaborative effort, and that’s something that I’ve always enjoyed.“
What some may not know, however, is that Flores spends some of his nights in a way that separates him from other broadcasters: streaming video games on Facebook.
Flores started streaming on Facebook in July of 2018, and rotates through MLB: The Show, Madden and NBA 2K while interacting with his fans and followers in the stream’s chat. The stream’s quality and following have greatly increased since its launch, with Flores’ Facebook page amassing more than 81,000 likes and more than 83,000 followers.
“I think my first stream was MLB: The Show, I think that’s what it was,” Flores said. “That’s primarily what I stream now, just because there’s the obvious tie-in and connection with baseball, so I think there’s a natural fit there.”
>>Head to Flores’ Facebook page to check out his streams and follow for notifications on when he goes live
His YouTube channel, entitled “Your Dad’s A Gamer,” also features clips from the same games, and has built up a fan base of 745 subscribers as of August 1, 2019.
“It’s primarily sports games,” Flores said. “I’m not very good at first-person shooters or anything like that, so those are the things that I try to stick to and primarily focus on.”
Flores knows he won’t be competing with the big-name streamers like Ninja, but said he’s proud of the audience he’s built up as he spends his days on baseball fans’ televisions and plays the games he loves at night.
“I’ve seen my numbers increase gradually, which is nice to see,” Flores said. “The people that are getting the biggest numbers, they do it everyday. That’s their job in a certain sense. I don’t have that time. I mean, I obviously have a 9-5. That’s what I’ve seen, that there’s just a consistency. I try to do it as consistently as possible, but then again, there’s certain limitations on my schedule that I can’t get passed.”
As the following gets larger, so does the amount of viewers who come in and are shocked to see a broadcaster streaming games and interacting with fans.
“I think sometimes, every now and then, there will be people that hop into the stream and get on the chat, and they’re like, ‘Wait a minute, aren’t you the guy from…’ or ‘Didn’t you used to…’” Flores said. “And I’m like, ‘Yep, that’s me, you’ve got the right one.’”
However, Flores is hoping he can use that initial shock to build up more interest in his content.
“It is a little unique and it’s not something that a lot of traditional broadcasters are doing,” Flores continued. “That’s hopefully part of the appeal that I can capitalize on, and hopefully people get a kick out of it. It’s different and another way to interact with fans and connect with them on a different platform in a different way.”
The platform allows Flores to interact with his audience in a rare, casual manner that provides more variety than the usual replies on Twitter or Instagram.
“I always tell people when I’m streaming, ‘Hey, let’s talk some trade deadline stuff, fantasy football, what’s your team gonna do during the stretch run,'” Flores said. “So, it’s kind of like a big, giant conversation and we’re all just hanging out, talking with one another.”
Many don’t know what they’re getting into when they enter the gaming world, especially with the rise of eSports as a competitive outlet for gamers throughout numerous genres. But, Flores said his followers have been nothing but helpful as he makes his way through the hurdles of streaming.
“People have been really good,” Flores said. “I would say that the various gaming communities have been very welcoming to me and have helped me with various things, I think in part because I respect the communities. I know the games and I know these people take it very seriously, and I try to respect it.”
MLB: The Show hasn’t yet entered the competitive gaming scene like other franchises, such as Madden or NBA 2K, but Flores said he’d like to be a part of the game plan if and when it comes to fruition.
“I’d love to be involved with it,” Flores said. “I think, like I said, it continues to be a genre that continues to grow. As far as the particulars, and how and when, those are decisions above my pay grade.”
“I’m sure those discussions are being had because there’s so much focus on it,” Flores added. “There’s so many people that play, there’s so many people that enjoy the eSports aspect of it. So yeah, I would love to be a part of it, and I think there’s great potential there.”
Flores is taking advantage of a new platform to build his audience, and both broadcasters and players are always looking for unique ways to grow and evolve in the social media sphere.
What’s the next platform for users to take advantage of, though? Even Flores, who uses all three of the major social platforms to their fullest, couldn’t tell you.
“I think it’s only going to continue to grow,” Flores said. “As far as specifics, I just can’t imagine what’s down the pike because every time you guess, every time you think you have a handle on what the technology is, it continues to expand and evolve and change.”