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Minor League Baseball Release Free iPhone, iPod App to Track Games PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 12 August 2011 15:19

At Bat, but isn't.... The new free app for iPhone allows you to track Minor League
Baseball, albeit without streaming video or audio.

For baseball fans on the go, one of the coolest apps for Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad has been MLB.com's At Bat. While other platforms are serviced for the the app that allows you to track games in MLB, the Apple platform has been its most successful.

But, what about those that want to keep track of Minor League Baseball? They have been left wanting.... until today.

Minor League Baseball announced today that MiLB.com and its network of league and club web sites have set records across nearly all of its general traffic metrics, highlighted by the two single highest months in the digital network’s history during June and July. In addition, the first-ever official MiLB mobile application developed exclusively for Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch, Triple-A from MiLB.com, is available beginning today. For those that have At Bat 11 for MLB, the key difference will be that the free MiLB app does not have streaming video or audio, the key drawing points for At Bat.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/milb.com-triple-a/id453236124?mt=8

“We are very encouraged by high traffic volume that our network is drawing,” said Art Matin, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Baseball Internet Rights Company (BIRCO), the wholly-owned subsidiary under which Minor League Baseball centralized the digital rights of its leagues and clubs.  “It is reflective of the high degree of interest in Minor League Baseball and the content-rich nature of our various team and league sites.  Equally exciting are the results in our video highlight and live game streaming products.  Also, more and more fans are interacting with our network through a variety of mobile devices, an experience further extended by the introduction of MiLB.com’s first official mobile application for iPhone.  We’re thrilled that our fans are embracing our network and doing so through multiple interfaces.”

“Minor League Baseball is very proud of our latest numbers and the consistent growth of our digital assets,” said Pat O’Conner, President of Minor League Baseball.  “Our clubs and executives are effectively using our digital platform to reach our legions of fans.  We’re pleased with the success and progress of our network of web sites under the guidance of Major League Baseball Advanced Media.”

The Triple-A app, developed and powered by MLB Advanced Media (who developed At Bat for MLB games), features up-to-the-moment action from across the Pacific Coast and International Leagues, including the individual league postseasons and the annual Triple-A Baseball National Championship which will be played on Tuesday, September 20, 2011. The app enables fans to follow their favorite MLB club’s top Minor League affiliate and prospects with comprehensive coverage of every game, highlighted by live pitch-by-pitch tracking, league-wide scores and stats, breaking news and the option to customize the home screen for any Triple-A team. Triple-A is available free-of-charge from the App Store on iPhone or iPod touch, or at www.itunes.com/appstore.

Record Traffic Across MiLB.com Digital Network Properties

For two consecutive months, MiLB.com and its network of league and club web sites have set records across nearly all of its general traffic metrics, including the single largest month in the digital network’s history with 14.2 million visitors and 72.4 million page views during July 2011. This mark topped the records set just the previous month (June 2011) of 13.5 million visitors and 68.4 million page views.

Among the traffic records established at MiLB.com during the first four months of the season (April – July) include:

  • The MiLB.com digital network averaged 12.9 million visitors per month, representing an increase of 15 percent from 2010 (11.2 million), highlighted by its two single-highest visited months ever in June and July with 27.7 million visitors combined.
  • The MiLB.com digital network has averaged 65.0 million page views per month this year, 9% higher than the comparable 2010 average.
  • Thanks to its two single-largest months ever (140.8 million page views in June and July combined), the MiLB.com digital network surpassed 275 million page views before August 1 for the first time ever.
  • The MiLB.com digital network’s mobile-optimized web sites have totaled nearly 40 million page views across all Internet-enabled devices, a 193% increase from the 2010 season’s first four months, and surpassed 10 million mobile page views in a single month for the first time in June 2011.
  • The MiLB.com digital network delivered over one million video streams, with over 20,000 subscribers signed up for its live game video streaming product, MiLB.TV, a more than 200% increase in sales over the comparable time period in 2010.

About BIRCO

Baseball Internet Rights Company (BIRCO) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL), d.b.a. as Minor League Baseball, that was formed in December 2008 to manage the digital and interactive media rights for Minor League Baseball clubs and leagues across the United States and Canada. MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball, is the exclusive provider of interactive media services, including web development, online ticketing, content, and advertising and sponsorship for the official sites of Minor League Baseball (MiLB.com), 14 domestic MiLB leagues and 155 Minor League clubs per a 2008 partnership agreement with BIRCO. MLBAM has integrated an array of features to the network of MiLB sites since its initial launch in April 2005, highlighted by live full-game video streaming and on-demand highlights, up-to-the-moment scoreboards and statistics, Minor League Beat the Streak fantasy baseball game, mobile websites, and comprehensive editorial coverage of Minor League All-Star Games and Playoffs. The MiLB network of team and league sites annually attract more than 60 million baseball fans.

Source: MiLB, MLBAM


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Red Sox-Yankees Games Draw Big Viewership Numbers for ESPN, FOX, and MLB Network PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 14:34
Red Sox
Yankees

There is an ongoing debate – daily it seems – as to whether MLB’s national broadcast partners are doing fans a disservice by showing a constant stream of Yankee-Red Sox games each season. The conversation goes that it’s the league that is driving this narrow scope across the league. But, the reasoning is simple: fans continue to watch in large numbers when those games are aired.

Case in point, the games this past week between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for first place in the American League East generated strong viewership numbers for FOX, ESPN and MLB Network.

Saturday’s FOX broadcast was the most watched non-prime regular season MLB telecast on the Network in more than three years with 4.10 million average viewers. Most of the country saw Yankees vs. Red Sox while parts of the country watched last year’s NLCS participants, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants, square off. The last FOX non-prime regular season telecast to record higher numbers featured Boston and New York and the Cubs vs. St. Louis on July 5, 2008. For the season to date, FOX Saturday Baseball is averaging 2.97 million viewers, which is +5% versus last year’s 2.83 million viewers after 19 weeks.

ESPN’s Sunday night telecast of the Red Sox vs. Yankees was the most watched ESPN baseball game in more than four years with 4.72 million average viewers. The last time ESPN attracted a larger audience for baseball was for the Yankees vs. Red Sox on June 3, 2007 with 5.30 million average viewers. For the season, ESPN’s nationally exclusive telecasts are averaging 2.53 million viewers, which is +9% versus last year’s 2.32 million viewers after 19 weeks.

MLB Network’s Friday night telecast of the first game of the Yankees at Red Sox series was the network’s highest-rated game of 2011, averaging 563,000 viewers, second only to MLB Network’s telecast of Stephen Strasburg’s MLB debut in 2010 as its most-watched game ever. The telecast helped deliver MLB Network’s highest primetime audience ever and a 25th consecutive week of viewership growth since pitchers and catchers reported. The Yankees at Red Sox telecast on MLB Network was blacked out in the Boston and New York home television territories.

How will the networks change their ways? Simple. When ratings and viewership for NYY-BOS games declines and some other match-up somehow supplants them. That may still be a ways off, given the numbers released.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Verizon and Red Sox Upgrade System to Allow Better Mobile Reception at Fenway Park, Surrounding Area PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 06 August 2011 10:15

Verizon Wireless and the Boston Red Sox today announced the completion of a new Verizon Distributed Antenna System (DAS) designed to greatly improve the mobile device reception for fans inside Fenway Park and for residents in the surrounding Fenway neighborhood. The Verizon DAS is a network of antennas that deliver wireless service within a geographical area or large building where steel and concrete interfere with wireless signals.

The infrastructure for the new antennae system separates into 18 different sectors throughout the ballpark and was built and installed by Verizon Wireless, the official wireless provider of the Boston Red Sox. The system also incorporates other service providers onto one platform offering improved service for mobile devices using other carriers.

“Handheld technology is really changing the in-park fan experience,” said Red Sox Executive Vice President/Business Affairs Jonathan Gilula. “This new system not only enhances reception inside Fenway Park, it also helps us meet both the current demands of our fans from a mobile technology standpoint and sets us up with the proper infrastructure to meet their future needs.”

New System, Old Challenges

The nearly year-long project to install the Verizon DAS system faced some unique challenges in the 1912 ballpark. In fact, the project would not have been possible without the improvements that were made over the past decade, which included building the cable tray infrastructure that now houses the miles of cable connecting the 300 plus antennas driving the system. In addition to housing the unseen parts of the wiring system, additional attention also needed to be paid to areas where the antennas would be visible.

“Marrying Fenway Park’s old charm with modern conveniences and amenities has been an ongoing effort for the last decade, but sometimes the realities of a 99 year-old ballpark can pose some unique challenges,” said Gilula. “We worked closely with the Massachusetts Historical Commission to ensure that the antennas complied with historical standards and that from an aesthetic standpoint, they did not interfere with the look and feel of the ballpark.”

Enhanced Social Media Experience

To celebrate the upgrades, during today’s game the Red Sox will conduct a number of new social media contests as well as expand on some old favorites, including:

  • Play Ball – Prior to the game, the team will host a Twitter contest where the winner will get to announce “the words we all love to hear” on the field during the pregame ceremony
  • Fan Photos – Fans will be encouraged to submit photos to the Red Sox on Twitter during the game. Several photos will be selected and featured on the video board during inning breaks
  • 20th Check In – Every 20th person to ‘check in’ using MLB’s At Bat app on a mobile device will win a free Red Sox At Bat t-shirt which can be collected at the Red Sox Nation booth in the Gate B concourse
  • Tweet Your Seat – A special, expanded edition of the Red Sox classic ‘Tweet Your Seat’ will happen on Saturday, with fans Tweeting their seat locations using the hashtag #tweetyourseat at Fenway Park for the chance to win prizes

The Red Sox will continue for the rest of the season to conduct live Twitter Player Q&A’s, which launched on July 9 with Red Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald. Yesterday, Daniel Bard joined McDonald as the latest player to respond to fan questions during a live Twitter Q&A session with fans on @RedSox using the hashtag #AsktheSox. Bard’s live Q&A session is available for fans to read on redsox.com/askthesox.

“Engaging with our fans using multiple platforms during the second half of the 2011 season is a major focus and interacting with them via social media while they’re at the ballpark is a critical piece of that effort,” said Red Sox Director of Information Technology Steve Conley, who worked closely with Verizon on this project. “This upgraded system not only brings greater convenience to our fans, it also removes a significant barrier for those using social media in-park.”

Fans interested in learning more about the Red Sox social media initiatives can visit redsox.com/connect

Source: Boston Red Sox


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Time Warner Cable Removes Unwarranted Blackouts for Pirates, Indians, and Tigers Fans PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 05 August 2011 08:37

The mergers of several Time Warner Cable operators in Ohio into two separate entities caused a mid-season nightmare for fans with MLB Extra Innings this past week (see Ohio Time Warner Cable Subs Get Caught in MLB Blackout Crossfire Over Pirates, Indians, Tigers Games). That issue has now been fully resolved.

According to an executive at Major League Baseball, TWC has reverted both to the prior configurations that league had at the beginning of the season.  The teams adversely affected were the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians, and Detroit Tigers.

(SEE MLB’S TELEVISION BLACKOUT MAP)

According to the league, when the mergers of systems took place, TWC applied blackouts incorrectly. Thousands of subscribers to the out-of-market package were impacted by the blackouts.

Could such a thing happen again? It’s possible. As mergers and acquisitions of systems take place, the configurations of the blackout policy could be impacted.

Asked if there were a chance that the league as a whole would look into the blackout policy, the league said that they continue to look at it as it is the number one customer service complaint. Issues around pulling cable providers in or out of blackouts are a consideration as some have pushed back. Owners, of course, are looking to retain as much territory as possible as it adds revenues to the bottom line.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Issue Resolved, Time Warner Cable Subs Should Have Blackouts Lifted for Pirates, Indians Games PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 12:00

A meeting between the top brass at Time Warner Cable and Major League Baseball yesterday appears to have addressed a thorny issue where after more than half the season played, NE Ohio subscribers were suddenly blacked out from Pirates and Indians games on MLB Extra Innings (see Ohio Time Warner Cable Subs Get Caught in MLB Blackout Crossfire Over Pirates, Indians, Tigers Games). A league executive said that the blackouts should be lifted today. Time Warner Cable implemented the blackouts after having three operators in the area merge into one.

While the issue of Pirates and Indians are resolved, a separate issue with TWC in the Columbus, Ohio area still has Detroit Tigers fans being blacked out. The league is scrambling to get that mid-season blackout issue resolved, hopefully as early as today, although sources at the league could not confirm whether that would occur.

LOOK FOR UPDATES AS THEY BECOME AVAILABLE


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Ohio Time Warner Cable Subs Get Caught in MLB Blackout Crossfire Over Pirates, Indians, Tigers Games PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 01 August 2011 23:04

UPDATE #2: Reports now are that Tigers games are being blacked out, and area is larger than just NE Ohio

UPDATE: Reports are now that not only are the Pirates blacked out mid-season due to the Time Warner Cable merger, but so are the Indians in NE Ohio.


The mergers of three Time Warner Cable outlets into a single entity has created an unintended blackout headache mid-season for fans in Ohio trying to catching Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cleveland Indians games, while a TWC Columbus system and its newly added served areas are blacking out the Detriot Tigers According to customers, calls to TWC around game time had a recorded message saying, "Tonight’s Pittsburgh Pirates game on the MLB Extra Innings package has been blacked out.  This is not a Time Warner decision, but a decision made by Major League Baseball."

(SEE THE MLB BLACKOUT MAP)

A league executive said that MLB is aware of both situations and have been working on it already, but disputes that it is a league issue saying that Time Warner Cable is the reason for the blackout that should not be. A 3:30pm ET call between TWC and MLB occurred today in an effort to resolve the issue.

“It’s a tough situation brought on by the integration of three TWC headends into one,” said the executive. “This always raises complications and it is not done at our direction but certainly creates problems.

“Why, after they’d been informed/alerted as to the blackout problems such integration would cause, they continued to make the decision anyway and deprive their subscribers of games they’d otherwise been entitled to? Their operational economies of scale clearly don’t consider the impact of blackouts; it’s not MLB greed or policy.”

The league said it hopes to have the issue resolved soon. We hope to update fans as soon as word arises.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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CNN Graphic Erroneously Shows Jeter with 3000 Home Runs, Not Hits PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 09 July 2011 18:48

Jeter

You get the strange feeling that someone doing the banner graphics at CNN today isn’t exactly a baseball fan.

Case in point, the image above. It’s certainly newsworthy that Derek Jeter became just the 28th player in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits. It’s also newsworthy that Jeter did so with a home run, something not done since Wade Boggs hit his 3,000 with a dinger on August 7, 1999 (for those that don’t remember, Boggs, upon reaching home plate, kissed it). But, for CNN to put the two together by saying Jeter had hit his 3,000 home run? Well, that’s one way to make Barry Bonds’ 762 look small.

Big hat tip to "Bexy" on Twitter


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Glenn Beck Marries with MLB Advanced Media for New "GBTV" Online Show PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 07 June 2011 11:31

Glenn BeckMLB Advanced Media, the digital rights arm of Major League Baseball, has been a lucrative revenue stream for baseball, filling the league’s (and each of the 30 owners) coffers with a steady flow of dependable cash. One of the key reasons – maybe the biggest – is that they are seen as the industry standard for video online.

So, while you may be scratching your head asking what right-wing politics and baseball have in common, it’s all about the streaming video platform.

Glenn Beck is moving from FOX to his own online network called GBTV. It’s a daring move – going all online – but Beck is gambling that as the adoption of streaming video online becomes more common place (see Netflix, as an example), paying for streaming content will become the norm.

To support what Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts company has in mind, they have brought in MLBAM to stream the shows. With more than 20 sports and entertainment brands in BAM’s portfolio, including ESPN3.com, CBSSports.com, March Madness on Demand, TigerWoods.com, along with MLB.com, it’s a natural fit if you want to have a robust, scalable platform.

Before baseball fans think that MLB is full of right-wingers, they should think again. In an article we published 2007 (see Money, Politics, and MLB's Political Action Committee), we found that baseball owners are virtually split down the middle between Republican and Democratic donations.

What is happening is MLBAM’s reputation of being able to have the backend infrastructure, white label services, operational support and mobile app development that has helped serve millions of streaming game views each year for MLB, works as one nice calling card to whoever wishes to reach a large audience on the web…. fringe politics, or not.


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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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