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Whammer Time: Hawks/Thrashers Minority Owner Takes on AJC PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 21 May 2009 14:42

AnonymousAs I’m finding out all too quickly on Twitter, masking ones identity can lead to all kinds of interesting story angles, whether they might be true, or not. It seems obvious now that Theo Epstein on Twitter is not THE Theo Epstein.

But, when it comes to commentary online, anonymity can mask individuals in high place... or not.

Take Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter Kristi Swartz and Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers minority owner, Bruce Levenson. Levenson, a journalist by profession, mind you, was tracked down my Swartz to deal with a matter that was said to be so sensitive that a meeting in person needed to take place. I’ll let Levenson take it from here via this week’s edition on the SportsBusiness Journal online:

Her earth-shattering topic: She wanted to know if I was “Whammer.” She produced a stack of printouts from “Whammer.”

It seems “Whammer” has been e-mailing the AJC frequently in recent years in response to sports columnist Jeff Schultz’s articles critical of my teams, our management and our ownership. Whammer’s rambling rants attack Schultz, while defending the Hawks and Thrashers organization. In one of his many posts, Whammer echoes the oft-stated but ridiculous notion that Atlanta fans are bad fans who do not support their teams. This notion first surfaced, as best I know, when the Braves failed to sell out some playoff games in the 1990s.

I explained to Swartz that I was not Whammer. I have responded to AJC articles and others, but always in my own name. It’s one of the values I’ve stressed to the journalists at my own company: You lose credibility with anonymity.

The op/ed then goes on to say that Shwatz did not believe him and that the AJC had traced Whammer’s e-mail address to Levenson’s company internal network.

It gets better. Levenson has said that he considered legal action in the matter, and then, online commentary has come into play.

In the comments section of the SBJ op/ed, Shawn McIntosh, the AJC public editor chimes in:

AJC reporters were curious about the identity of the commenter, believing it would be newsworthy if someone in a leadership position in the Spirit organization was criticizing Atlanta fans. They did what journalists do – reported the story by asking questions, including asking Mr. Levenson whether he was the person anonymously posting as Whammer, or whether someone was doing it at the ownership group's behest.

Once Mr. Levenson denied that he or other owners were behind the Whammer postings that criticized fans, there was no story. AJC reporters frequently pursue newsworthy angles that don't prove true. They don't write every story they report.

McIntosh then goes on to explain that the one error that the AJC made was looking up the IP address of “Whammer” to see if they could track it down to an individual.

The exchange outlines how traditional media and the world of social networking are intersecting. It’s a delicate dance that is being done, but one thing is certain: either Whammer is sweating bullets today, thinking that they may get fired at Sprint, or is doing virtual high-fives with others on some forum at the moment, while baiting others.


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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MLB.com Seeing Record Traffic, Up 136% in First 3 Weeks PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 27 April 2009 12:05

MLB.comAfter three weeks of the 2009 baseball season, it is evident that fans are interacting with MLB.com in record numbers.

Below are highlights at MLB.com since Opening Day:

  • MLB.com has delivered 127.2 million video streams, representing an increase of 136 percent over the 53.8 million video streams delivered over the season’s first three weeks in 2008.
  • Over 400,000 subscribers have signed up for MLB.com’s premier live game products, MLB.TV and Gameday Audio, through April 26, a 45.7 percent increase of sales over the comparable time period in 2008.
  • MLB.com has totaled 2.2 billion page views, an increase of 73 percent over the 1.3 billion page views accumulated over the first three weeks of the 2008 season.
  • MLB.com has averaged 9.4 million visitors per day, representing an increase of 30 percent from the comparable daily average over last year’s first three weeks.
  • The MLB.com network of mobile sites recorded 31.1 million page views on April 25, 2009, setting a new record for a single day. It marks the seventh day this year that it has surpassed the 20 million page view mark, including the previous record of 26.2 million established on April 25, 2009.
  • MLB.com's mobile sites have totaled 381.7 million page views across all internet-enabled devices, a 254 percent increase from the 2008 comparable time period.
  • MLB.com has delivered more than 4.1 million video streams to mobile devices over the first three weeks, including real-time highlights to team alert subscribers.  Compared to 2008, team alert subscribers are up 35.5 percent.
  • Fans have downloaded more than 1.1 million MLB.com and Club icons to their BlackBerry smartphones for easy one-click access to the MLB.com network of mobile sites.
  • MLB.com At Bat 2009, an application built exclusively for iPhone and iPod touch, remains the top-selling sports application in the Apple app store. It also has retained its ranking among the top 20 overall paid applications nearly a month after becoming available.

Source: MLB.com

BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK FEATURE ARTICLE:

Former Pacers GM, D-League Owner David Kahn Considered for T’Wolves GM Position


 

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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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Keith Olbermann Hired by MLBAM. Will Donate At-Large Salary to Charity PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 10:57

Keith OlbermannMLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) announced today that it has hired anchor, sportscaster and journalist Keith Olbermann as an at-large columnist. Olbermann’s columns, currently available three times per week at keitholbermann.mlblogs.com, will provide fans with his “Baseball Nerd” perspective of the game across various platforms. He also is the first national journalist hired as part of MLBAM’s digital newspaper initiative, currently scheduled for a May launch.

At his request, Olbermann’s full salary for his work as an at-large columnist will be split equally among three charitable organizations. They will be: the Baseball Assistance Team, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and the Jayden Braden/Ariana Marzano College Fund, established in support of the late John Marzano’s grandchildren. Marzano, a former Major Leaguer and MLB.com host, died just over one year ago in a home accident in Philadelphia.

“I've long respected MLB.com's editorial independence and I'll be delighted to test it,” said Olbermann. “Seriously, it's an honor to be able to write about all the obscure things I love inside the game I love, and to help some worthy causes in the process, and to honor an old friend. Not to mention that it will be my politics-free oasis. Unless another cat jumps up at another Governor.”

“We are delighted by Keith’s actions in every aspect of this endeavor, from his wonderful writing to what he is giving to honor the legacy and family of John Marzano,” said Dinn Mann, Executive Vice President, Content, MLBAM. “Keith is not just a student of the game, he is an unmistakable personality who combines punch line instincts with journalistic drive. This is an exciting step in the landscape of sports commentary and MLBAM.”

Olbermann is currently the host of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” an hour-long nightly news and commentary television program on MSNBC. Starting with the 2007 NFL season, Olbermann also has served as a co-host of NBC's Football Night in America. He spent the first 20 years of his career in sports journalism as a sports correspondent for CNN in the 1980s, winning the Best Sportscaster award from the California Associated Press three times. Olbermann later co-hosted ESPN's SportsCenter from 1992 to 1997. After leaving ESPN, Olbermann became a sports anchor and producer for Fox Sports Net from 1998 to 2001, during which he hosted several World Series broadcasts.

A New York native, Olbermann graduated from Cornell University.

Source: MLB Advanced Media


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

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Disney/ABC, ESPN Reach Agreement with YouTube PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 10:51

ESPNDisney Media Networks and YouTube today announced an agreement which includes the launch of multiple ad-supported channels featuring short-form content from ESPN and the Disney/ABC Television Group. Under the terms of the agreement, Disney Media Networks will have the option to sell their own advertising inventory within the Disney/ABC and ESPN channels. Channel roll out is scheduled to begin in mid-April for ESPN and early May for the Disney/ABC Television Group channels which will include ABC Entertainment, ABC News, ABC Family and SOAPnet.  Previews of what will be available upon official launch can be viewed at www.YouTube.com/ABC and www.YouTube.com/ESPN.

As part of the agreement, the ESPN Video Player will be integrated into ESPN’s channel on YouTube and will anchor a wide variety of exciting sports content and highlights on YouTube.  ESPN will also make additional short-form content available through YouTube’s player. ESPN content that is available on the ESPN channel and player will not contain long-form content from its linear networks.

“This deal provides us with the opportunity to reach a broader online audience, to experiment with different monetization models and to extend the reach of our advertisers within branded environments that they most desire,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney/ABC Television Group. “We look forward to working together with YouTube to reach their vast community with our incredible portfolio of high-quality, short-form content to better serve consumers and advertisers.”

“We are thrilled to welcome ABC and ESPN into our global content network of premium partners,” said David Eun, VP of Strategic Partnerships at Google. “More and more studios and networks are realizing the power of YouTube to reach a huge and engaged audience. Our diverse collection of ad products, Content ID tools and sophisticated online analytics, provide studios like ABC with innovative monetization options, more control over their online content and granular insight into how audiences are interacting with their videos.”

“Reaching and engaging fans is paramount in all that we do as a company, and YouTube is a great platform to achieve that goal,” said George Bodenheimer, co-chair, Disney Media networks, and president, ESPN and ABC Sports.  “Making our content available to fans via YouTube presents an extraordinary opportunity for ESPN to create new revenue streams and new value to advertisers, as they continue to look for new ways to connect with fans in the digital environment.”

The Disney/ABC and ESPN YouTube channels, available to U.S. users, will be supported at launch by advertising like YouTube’s InVideo overlays, and traditional display ads.  However, as part of the agreement, Disney/ABC and ESPN will also be able to test pre-roll advertising on short-form content. 

Source: ESPN


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

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While Still in Beta, MLB.TV's New Player Offers Great Picture PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 26 March 2009 13:05

MLB.TV Premium

As this image shows, MLB.TV Premium's new Adobe
Flash player offers a great picture.
(Click to see in larger view)

For those that are taking a peak at the new “Hi-Def” player as part of a free Beta test for MLB.TV Premium's Flash player by Adobe, you may have been asking yourself why the audio was broken at the beginning of the game. Well, it isn’t. Seems YES was having audio problems on their end that has created minutes with no sound. Once the audio came online, some glitches were still in play. This is still, after all, a Beta.

Attempts at using the “DVR” controls – the ability to rewind, fast forward, and pause, all but locked up the feed as it buffered and attempted to load when the rewind and fast forward elements were used. I also had moments when the DVR controls would not “dissolve” off screen when I moved the mouse off of it. At one point, a message was displayed saying “Media currently not available”. Once that was resolved, the ability to jump back and forth between innings seemed to work better (a possible service or server restart?).

Beyond the bells and whistles needing work, the picture quality is getting very near to broadcast. The only dithering that I could see was when I went to full screen (1440x900 on my Inspirion E1705 laptop). Otherwise, the picture is nearly flawless.

It will be interesting to see how the picture-in-picture functions, once available, as well other functionality such as chat, etc. What is clear is that streaming video online is a more than acceptable platform for watching games. For many, MLB.TV Premium might well be worth purchasing over MLB Extra Innings due to price and ever increasing quality.

Look for a full review of the non-Beta version of MLB.TV Premium once the season starts.

Business of Sports Network Feature Article:

U.S. Dept. of Labor Suing Michael Vick


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

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See Free Hi-Def Preview of MLB.TV Premium When Yankees-Phillies Game Airs PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 26 March 2009 00:38

MLB.TV Premium features

MLB.TV sees a host of new features for 2009. DVR-like
functionality, and "Hi-Def" picture quality will be available
as part of a free preview today when the Yankees and
Phillies meet in Spring Training.

On Thursday, MLB.com is offering a free preview of their streaming “Hi-Def” media player, powered by Adobe Flash that is being offered as part of the MLB.TV Premium package for 2009. Fans can check out the new player and improved video quality when then Yankees-Phillies Spring Training game airs online at 1:05pm ET. The Hi-Def streaming feed will be available to non-subscribers in the new player.

(See the game here on MLB.com)

While MLB.com has said that this is not the final product that will be available Opening Day, the HD and DVR-like functionality that will allow you to pause, rewind, and fast-forward the feed will be available.

This year, fans will find the price of both MLB.TV and MLB.TV Premium down $10 from 2008. The new prices will be $109.95 for the season, or $19.95 a month, for MLB.TV Premium, while MLB.TV will be $79.95 for the season, or $14.95 a month

MLB.com tells The Biz of Baseball that "proprietary speed detection will allow those customers that have high-speed access to enjoy an HD quality picture on any size monitor."

When the final version of MLB.TV Premium is released, the option of watching up to four games or highlights simultaneously, and use picture-in-picture via a secondary window will be functional. Where available, you will be able to watch or listen to either the home or away team's broadcasts. Also, where available, fans can now choose whether they want to listen to the radio or TV announcers of each game.

Other features include...

Live Game Highlights

Real-time highlights and player stats automatically load into the media player. Simply click on a highlight and the clip instantly launches in a Picture in Picture window.

Player Tracker

Customize alerts to feature entire fantasy rosters or players that you are interested in. You will be notified any time a listed player is on deck.  Simply click the real-time alert and watch live at-bat look-ins.

Live Game Chat

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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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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Major League Baseball 2K9 Hits Stores Today PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 03 March 2009 11:24

2K9Gaming junkie? Baseball junkie? Lincecum fan? Today you get them all wrapped in one.

2K Sports, the sports publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), announced today that Major League Baseball 2K9 is now available in retail stores for the Xbox 360,  PlayStation3 and PlayStation2, Wii, and Windows PC. Featuring National League Cy Young Award Winner Tim Lincecum.

According to Take-Two, this season, Major League Baseball 2K9 offers fans improved two-step Precision Pitching controls, deeper Swing Stick batting and quick fielding responses for even greater control of the game. The improved batting controls provide the ability to influence hits with timing and aim, improved hit distribution and variety to deliver more hit types including spray shots, pulls, line drives and long bombs. With more than six years of scouting reports infused into the action on the field, Inside Edge produces remarkably accurate player tendencies to ensure players react to in-game situations as they would in real life. Major League Baseball 2K9 also features new commentary, as Gary Thorne provides the play-by-play calls alongside color analyst Steve Phillips. In addition, Living Rosters has been added this season to provide fresh and active roster updates that guarantee every game is current and automatically updated behind the scenes, so players are never late on a trade and always have the hottest players in their starting lineup.

Major League Baseball 2K9, is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB. Major League Baseball 2K9 will be coming to the PSP (PlayStationPortable) system this spring. For more information, visit www.2ksports.com/games/mlb2k9.


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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Dodgers to Offer 11 Spring Training Webcasts for Free PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 27 February 2009 17:14
DodgersFollowing the news earlier this week that the White Sox will be streaming Spring Training games for free, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced Friday that the club will provide live video streams of 11 Spring Training games exclusively on dodgers.com.  Starting on March 4, fans can watch games online free of charge against opponents including the San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, a World Baseball Classic Asian Qualifying Team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Chicago Cubs (St. Patrick’s Day). 

In addition, the Dodgers will continue to post daily webisodes for fans, titled “Inside Dodgertown,” on dodgers.com. The four-minute videos, available in the Video Corner area of the dodgers.com homepage, give fans highlights from the day’s workouts and games and provide exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and commentary from Dodger players, coaches, and staff.

The Dodgers are playing their first Spring Training season from their new Cactus League home at Camelback Ranch – Glendale this year. The first-rate facility, which the Dodgers share with the Chicago White Sox, includes more than 118,000 square feet of Major and Minor League clubhouse space, 13 full baseball fields, and three half-fields. The site also features picturesque walking trails, landscaped grounds, two ponds, and a fully-stocked lake. The Dodgers will play a total of 15 home games at the ballpark, as well as two road games against the Chicago White Sox. Fans can purchase tickets to games at Camelback Ranch – Glendale at dodgers.com or by calling (480) 784-4444.

The complete live streaming video schedule of Dodger games follows:

DATE              OPPONENT 

March 4           vs. San Francisco

March 5           vs. Chicago White Sox

March 7           vs. Seattle

March 10         vs. Arizona

March 12         vs. WBC Asian Qualifier

March 13         vs. Texas

March 17         vs. Chicago Cubs

March 19         vs. Colorado Rockies

March 27         vs. Kansas City

March 29         vs. San Diego

March 30         vs. Oakland

Source: Los Angeles Dodgers


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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White Sox to Offer 11 Spring Training Webcasts for Free PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 26 February 2009 04:02

White SoxThe Chicago White Sox announced today the club will webcast 11 spring training games free on whitesox.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois will serve as the presenting sponsor of each spring webcast. Starting on March 2, White Sox fans will have the opportunity to see spring training games live as former Sox slugger Bill Melton and veteran broadcaster Trey Bender call the action from Camelback Ranch – Glendale, in Arizona.

Trey Bender, son of legendary sports broadcaster Gary Bender, is the voice of Arizona State University baseball, basketball and football. Bender also has broadcast Chicago Fire soccer and Horizon League basketball games. Melton, the 1971 American League home run champion, currently serves as the White Sox pre- and post-game studio analyst on Comcast SportsNet Chicago during the regular season.

The webcasts are free of charge to White Sox fans with Internet service and will include games vs. Seattle, Los Angeles (NL), Cleveland, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Los Angeles (AL), San Francisco, Oakland, Colorado and San Diego, along with an exhibition game vs. the Australian national team.

The complete schedule follows:

DATE       OPPONENT

March 2      vs. Seattle

March 6      vs. Australia

March 8      vs. Los Angeles (NL)

March 9      vs. Cleveland

March 11     vs. Milwaukee

March 16     vs. Kansas City

March 18     vs. Los Angeles (AL)

March 20     vs. San Francisco

March 25     vs. Oakland

March 31     vs. Colorado

April 1       vs. San Diego

Source: Chicago White 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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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MLB.com and ESPN Partner for MLB.TV Premium, ESPN Insider PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 11 February 2009 11:26

 MLB.com and ESPN Insider

MLB.com and ESPN have partnered to bring fans
MLB.TV Premium and ESPN Insider together as
one package.

MLB Advanced Media continues to stretch its partnerships and vertical growth.

On the same day that they announced that MLB.com and the NHL had partnered to provided MLB.TV and the NHL’s GameCenter LIVE together, MLB.com and ESPN Digital Media announced Monday that they have partnered to bring MLB.TV Premium and ESPN Insider’s together. Financial terms were not released.

Beginning Tuesday, February 17, fans can purchase both of the services together for a single, discounted price.

For an annual membership fee of $129.95, fans receive:

  • MLB.TV Premium: Unlimited access to live and on-demand streams of every regular season game, 100 select Spring Training games and the first two rounds of the World Baseball Classic from MLB.com in 2009 (blackout and other restrictions apply).  Among the features coming to MLB.TV Premium in 2009 are: proprietary speed detection allowing an online “hi-definition quality picture” on any screen; live game DVR functionality; live game picture-in-picture capabilities; multi-game viewing options; home and away feeds for every available game; live game radio option; and real-time player tracker alerts for live at-bat look-ins.
  • ESPN Insider: ESPN Insider delivers predictive analytical content including exclusive professional level scouting information and draft coverage from ESPN Scouts Inc., Buster Olney’s award-winning blog, and the latest buzz on athletes and teams in Rumor Central.  In addition, Insider features exclusive video (including on-demand episodes of Baseball Tonight, Pardon The Interruption, Around the Horn and more), access to ESPN The Magazine through a regularly-updated digital edition, Insider-only chats with athletes and celebrities, special access to ESPN Radio and first-look offerings from ESPN.“This represents a unique opportunity to further our long-standing and successful partnership with ESPN by providing consumers a single subscription to the best and most dynamic baseball content available on the web,” said Bob Bowman, president & chief executive officer, MLB.com.

“There are no two more valuable premium content services online for fans than MLB.TV Premium and ESPN Insider,” said John Kosner, senior vice president & general manager, ESPN Digital Media.  “We have a history of successful collaborations with MLB.com, and we’re excited to be working closely to create outstanding value for baseball fans.”  

 Per the agreement, ESPN and MLB.com will cross-promote the new premium subscription package on their digital media properties, including links to their sites and to the subscription homepage, contextual placements throughout the sites (including MLB club pages), ESPN The Magazine and more.

Source: ESPN


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. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and 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.

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