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MLB.TV Streaming Video to Facebook for Spring Training PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 10:06

In an experiment to see how fans, through social networking, engage with streaming content, you can now watch one MLB.TV Spring Training game in HD per day, free through their Facebook page.

Games started streaming on Facebook two days ago, beginning with the A’s Indians game. MLB.com informs that they have created a special player that embeds the streaming content within the Facebook interface.

Get in on it while you can. According to MLB.com, the experiment will only be going on during the rest of Spring Training. So, get in on at least 2 weeks of online goodness.

In related news, the same offer of one free Spring Training game streaming in HD per day is also available through the At Bat 11 app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
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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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Major League Baseball Comes to Apple TV PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 10 March 2011 08:44

MLB on Apple TV

With MLB.com’s “At Bat” being the highest grossing, and one of iTunes App Store’s most popular apps, you might have thought this was coming. With little fanfare yesterday, MLB and Apple (AAPL) married up again, only this time it’s MLB.TV for Apple TV.

The bonus? Unlike At Bat 11 for iPhone or iPad, all you need is an MLB.TV Premium subscription ($119.99 for the season). No purchasing additional apps. The downside? According to MLB.com, the product is only available for the regular season – no Spring Training games for the platform, and yes, those nasty blackout restrictions still are applying (see the fine print at the link).

It will be interesting to see how the new platform fits in with Roku and Boxee. What one wonders is, does this signal an increased effort on Apple’s side to really push Apple TV into homes further. There’s been hints of that with the rollout of OS 4.3. We’ll see.


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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MLB.com Releases "At Bat 11" App for Apple, Android Mobile Devices PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 24 February 2011 15:22

It’s becoming a tradition for baseball fans on the go… Waiting for the release of MLB.com’s popular “At Bat” application for mobile devices.

That day has arrived.

MLB.com has announced that “At Bat 11” has been released. With the early release, it deliver a special free preview of MLB.TV live streaming video for At Bat 11 on Apple devices starting Saturday, February 26 (Android streaming to come Opening Day). At Bat 11, which is available now for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android and BlackBerry, also introduces a new favorite Club home screen customization functionality for select devices (See selected screenshots below)

With Opening Day just five weeks away, At Bat 11 will deliver additional updates prior to the regular season, including brand new features, offers and functionalities.

Spring Training 2011

MLB.com At Bat 11across each of these platforms will offer coverage of approx. 150 Grapefruit and Cactus League games, including every available radio feed and in progress statistical data. Among the At Bat 11 features available for Spring Training are:

• Customize home screen to feature a designated favorite team (iPhone, iPod touch, Android only).

• Watch live streaming of about 150 available Spring Training games with a special mobile free preview of MLB.TV (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad only).

• Listen to available radio broadcasts of Spring Training games

• Follow league-wide scoreboards and batter-by-batter action for every Spring Training game

• Enhanced video library archive, searchable by player or team

• Breaking news, schedules and interactive rosters and players stats for every team

• Full-season schedule calendars

MLB.com At Bat 11 is available to subscribers for a one-time fee of $14.99 for the entire 2011 season. For more information, visit MLB.com.

Just how popular is the mobile application? At Bat 11 launched last night at midnight. In less than 7 hours (during the middle of the night) the app has hit #1 in sports and quickly is making its way up the overall charts, #37 (iPhone) and #36 (iPad).

At Bat 11 At Bat 11
At Bat 11 At Bat 11
At Bat 11

Images Courtesy of MLB.com


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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As 2011 Season Approaches, MLB.TV Now Served 1 Billion Video Streams PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 10 February 2011 08:20

MLB.TV

As the 2011 MLB season approaches, for the fan that looks to always keep abreast of games, the choices have shifted radically over the last decade. Where options were either radio or television locally, now the ability to watch or listen to games isn’t dictated by where you are at, but whether you have mobile or internet service.

Baseball fans have been blessed in that MLB Advanced Media has been the standard for producing streaming video, and as MLB.TV gets ready for the 2011 season, numbers bear that out.

According to MLB.com, the MLB.TV subscription service has now served one billion live video streams since its inception, 25% (250 million) of which were delivered in 2010 alone. The 2011 season packages for MLB.TV are on sale now at MLB.com.

“Fans have continued to demonstrate, in record numbers, their desire to consume live baseball in the most convenient ways possible,” said Noah Garden, Executive Vice President, Revenue, MLB.com. “We remain committed to expanding MLB.TV for our subscribers by leveraging emerging technological platforms and partnerships that deliver a rich experience.”

In 2011, fans will be able to follow every game wherever they are at (those nasty blackout restrictions the exception. Make sure and look closely before purchasing, and see the MLB TV territories map) with MLB.TV support across a variety of mobile and connected platforms, including iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android devices through the top-selling MLB.com At Bat apps for each and Sony PS3 and other connected devices from the likes of LG, Samsung, Roku, Boxee, and more (see the listing). Additional platform offerings for MLB.TV live streaming will be announced as they become available.

For Android users, the video streaming option that was made available for the first time during last year’s postseason will now be standard for the 2011 regular season.

Cost for the 2011 season is $119.95 for "Premium" and $99.95 which doesn't give you PIP, home and away feeds, etc (see details)

Along with portability, this year’s product offers the following

  • HD Quality Picture – Speed detection technology delivers live high definition video at the industry standard of 720p on any size monitor.
  • Home and Away Feeds – Watch either the home or away teams' broadcasts.
  • Alternate Audio Options – Overlay the home or away teams’ radio broadcasts over the live video or use the “Park” option to include the ballpark’s natural sounds.
  • Live Game DVR Functionality – Pause and rewind or fast-forward live games.
  • Clickable Linescores – Go directly to any at-bat or half-inning of a game.
  • Multi-Game Viewing Options – Watch up to four games simultaneously.
  • Picture-in-Picture – Choose one game and track another or watch in-game highlights simultaneously in a secondary window.
  • Live Game Highlights – Real-time highlights and player stats automatically load into the media player. With one click, the clip instantly launches in a picture-in-picture window.
  • Player Tracker – Customize a list to feature entire fantasy rosters and receive on-deck notifications to watch live at-bat look-ins for each player.
  • Spring Training – Watch about 150 live games from Florida and Arizona (details on when this is available not yet released).

Remember, mobile fans, to catch all games that are not blacked out in your location, you’ll need to purchase not only MLB.TV, but At Bat 2011. Details on mobile device app coming shortly.


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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Orioles Ink Multi-Year Deal to Return to 1090 AM WBAL Radtio PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 09 February 2011 08:49

OriolesThe Orioles have announced that they have signed a multi-year deal with 1090 AM WBAL Radio to become the club’s radio flagship station. The partnership with WBAL Radio marks the 42nd year since Baltimore returned to the major leagues 57 years ago that the station has originated Orioles broadcasts. Orioles games were most recently heard on WBAL Radio in 2006. The station first broadcast O’s games in 1957, the club’s fourth season.

“We are excited to reestablish our relationship with WBAL Radio,” said Orioles Director of Communications Greg Bader. “Both the Orioles and WBAL Radio have a long and proud tradition in this region and we are pleased to once again call them our flagship as we look forward to an exciting 2011 season.”

WBAL Radio will broadcast all 162 Orioles 2011 regular season games, as well as a selection of spring training contests. Joe Angel and Fred Manfra will return to call the action on the Orioles Radio Network.

Source: Baltimore Orioles


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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Troy Aikman Was Nearly a New York Met PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 23 January 2011 16:33

Troy AikmanIn the "what might have been" files, Troy Aikman, the Hall of Fame quaterback and current FOX NFL analyst, might have had a far different career. Aikman, over a 12-year career, led the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles. Tuesday night on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (Jan. 25), the Hall of Fame QB reveals that a baseball career with the New York Mets almost pre-empted his decision to enroll in 1984 at Oklahoma University and later at UCLA and embark on his football odyssey.

TROY AIKMAN: “I got a call from the New York Mets and they said, ‘We need to know what it’s gonna take to get you to forgo college.’”

GUMBEL: “Did you pitch?”

AIKMAN: “I was a pitcher and a shortstop. And so when they said what’s it gonna take.’ I said, ‘I don’t know, $200,000.’ They said, ‘$200,000? Darryl Strawberry is not even making that much money.’

And I said, ‘Well if you want me, that’s what it’s gonna take.’ And they said, ‘You have a nice football career at Oklahoma.’ ”


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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MLB Advanced Media Rejects $1B in Offers from Private Equity PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 20 January 2011 14:30

MLB.comMLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), the digital rights arm of Major League Baseball and includes MLB.com, has increasingly been a cash cow for the league. The group headed by President and CEO Bob Bowman (read The Biz of Baseball interview with Bowman from 2008), has been one of the most surprising money makers for MLB over the years.

Launched in 2000, MLB.com was funded by the clubs in an agreement that had them each investing $1 million a year over four years. The cost was targeted at $120 million. To the joy of the owners and MLB, the site started generating excess revenue in only the second year of its existence, allowing them to invest only $70-$75 million before beginning to see a return on their investment.

As early as 2005, the league looked to see just how much money MLBAM might be worth (see my article MLBAM: The Stealthy Money Machine on The Hardball Times). From “Stealthy Money Machine”):

What really makes this arm of MLB stealthy and an absolute moneymaking machine came to light somewhat quietly in October [of 2005] when the major league owners decided to scrap plans for an initial public offer for MLBAM. Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, First Boston and J.P. Morgan tried in vain to get the owners to go forward with the IPO. After all, they had good reason to want to see it happen, as these analysts predicted the value of the IPO to be $2-2.5 billion.

MLB decided not to go public then, so, it shouldn’t be terribly surprising to hear today’s news, although how much of a stake in BAM these investors are looking for isn't known.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on MLBAM and how private equity firms are constantly looking to try and get a cut of the lucrative digital arm of baseball. MLB.com, through BAM is seen as the industry leader in its video streaming infrastructure, and is why other sports outlets, such as ESPN and CBS, have used MLBAM to host their video streaming. The offers reportedly have been in the $1 billion range, half the value of the IPO value garnered in 2005. As reported by the SF Chronicle:

A source close to the talks tells us the company gets "call a day" from private equity firms, but that the company isn't looking to sell a stake for a few reasons:

  • It's already loaded with cash.
  • Owners are already getting a huge dividend.
  • Selling a billion dollar stake in MLBAM any time soon would make it very hard for owners to argue that they're broke in upcoming labor negotiations with players.
  • Selling a stake could further complicate the ownership stake and perhaps even force a dreaded shotgun IPO.

Who's calling MLBAM? A source close to PE circles speculates that it's most of the biggies: TPG, Blackstone, Bain Capital, Elevation, Spectrum, and Quadrangle.

Initially, many, including this author, concluded that MLBAM could be used as a trump card – a holding that could be leveraged in an IPO should economic headwinds every tear at MLB’s bottom line. Given than baseball increased revenues through the worst economic downturn since The Great Depression, that seems unlikely. After all, MLBAM is now pulling in in excess of a half-a-billion dollars annually. Given that the revenues is centralized revenue shared across all 30 owners in MLB, don’t look for a them to cave to the investor’s fawning to get a cut of the action…. At least not for the foreseeable future.


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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ESPN Releases the Complete Sunday Night Baseball Schedule for 2011 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 13 January 2011 08:24

ESPN Sunday Night BaseballESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball will showcase some of Major League Baseball’s best rivalries including the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants facing the Los Angeles Dodgers April 3 (8 p.m. ET), a pair of telecasts featuring the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees (April 10 and May 15), the Philadelphia Phillies hosting the New York Mets May 1, and the St. Louis Cardinals hosting the Cincinnati Reds April 24.  The Giants will make three early season appearances on Sunday Night Baseball, which will also include a rematch of the ALCS between the Texas Rangers and Yankees April 17 and an interleague matchup when the Chicago Cubs visit the Red Sox May 22.

Major League Baseball’s elite players will be on display, including league MVPs Josh Hamilton (A.L., Texas) and Joey Votto (N.L., Cincinnati), N.L. Rookie of the Year Buster Posey (San Francisco), St. Louis’ Albert Pujols, Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, the Yankees’ Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, Atlanta’s Jason Heyward, Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria and the New York Mets’ David Wright and Jose Reyes.

ESPN will introduce a new Sunday Night Baseball commentator team this season with Dan Shulman (play-by-play) joining analysts Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine (Hershiser was a starting pitcher with the New York Mets in 1999 when Valentine managed the team). The new broadcast team replaces Jon Miller and Joe Morgan who had been the network’s broadcast team for 21-years.  ESPN Sunday Night games are also available via ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com and ESPN Mobile TV. ESPN Radio’s new Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team will be play-by-play commentator Jon Sciambi and analyst Chris Singleton.

The April and May Sunday Night Baseball schedule follows (all telecasts begin at 8 p.m. ET).  Game selections for the remainder of the season will be made three weeks (June, July 3 and July 24) or two weeks (August and September) in advance.

SELECT READ MORE TO SEE THE COMPLETE SUNDAY NIGHT BASEBALL SCHEDULE

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Should MLB Force Jeffery Loria to Sell the Marlins?