You have probably heard about the
MLB Network by now, but what will
MLBNetwork.com be like?
With the introduction of MLB.com’s "At Bat" application for iPhone this past season, and the upcoming rollout of the MLB Network, baseball fans are being treated to new connections never before available to get their baseball fix. On the move or at home, not only are games available, but a host of content is available that adds value to watching games almost anywhere.
When it comes to digital offerings (internet and mobile technology), what does 2009 offer? Here are some possibilities on the horizon.
"At Bat": Could Gameday Audio be in the Future? - By all accounts, MLB.com’s app for the Apple iPhone has been a rousing success (see The Biz of Baseball review of, At Bat). The application, introduced when Apple unveiled version 2.0 of the operating system for iPhone, has sold over 140,000 copies since mid-July of 2008. At $4.99, that translates to approximately $700,000 in revenues before any fees are paid to Apple.
While At Bat has turned into a video highlight app for the off-season, the question is what will be new for 2009? Word is that Gameday Audio (GDA) is being considered, though at this point in the off-season it’s too early to tell. Being able to get all, or even just radio, highlights of game calls would be of interest to a great many fans.
The challenges with streaming game audio involves tracking broadcast territories, and whether GDA would create issues based upon agreements with radio broadcasting partners. As the regular season approaches, one thing is certain, At Bat will have additional functionality for those with iPhone or iPod Touch technology at their disposal.
What will be Offered Online for MLB Network? – For those who don’t know, there is a skeleton of a website available for the channel that, come January, will be the biggest cable launch in history. Accessing MLBNetwork.com doesn’t offer anything more than a video teaser and press releases right now, but representatives at both MLB.com and MLB Network say there are plans to do much more with the Network’s online presence.
The question is what exactly will be offered?
At this time, representatives say it’s too early to know for certain. It's reasonable to assume schedule information will be made available, but the burning question for many without cable or satellite is whether MLB Network programming will be available online, similar to how MLB.TV is the online option for those who wish to get out-of-market games and how MLB Extra Innings is available for those with cable or DirecTV?
At this time, with MLB Network in its infancy, and MLB.com working to figure out how they fit in with the broadcast network, it may be well after launch until MLB Network’s online presence is fully fleshed out. As MLBAM CEO Bob Bowman said in an interview with BizofBaseball.com, “I think it’s too early to tell. From an editorial point of view, it’s a very different business – programming an Internet portal likes ours versus programming a cable channel.”