JC / Railbird

Baseball Advances

… in online video this opening day:

While TV networks are still figuring out the best way to put last night’s sitcom online, MLB is about to stream a season of more than 2,000 live games in hi-definition with more features than any cable box.

Beyond pausing and rewinding live games as you can with a DVR, subscribers can watch up to four games at a time with “mosaic” picture-in-picture; select different audio channels, including synced-up radio commentary streams; and follow their favorite players (or fantasy team) as they play their games, including live video peeks.

I’m so envious. And high-quality, feature-rich streaming online video isn’t even all baseball fans can look forward to this season. According to MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman, MLB’s super At Bat iPhone app, which I’ve gushed about before, could gain live video streams this summer. “We would love to do live games on the iPhone,” Bowman told Silicon Alley Insider. “I think people would watch. A whole game? Probably not. But ten minutes?”

What other live sporting event might people watch for ten minutes or five on a mobile device? Maybe … a horse race?

Building the infrastructure to deliver such products, though, seems beyond the industry at this point. MLBAM began in 2000 with $75 million pooled by 30 clubs; in 2007, it brought in $450 million. (Proving, at least in one case, it’s possible to make money from content online.) It would take an unprecedented level of cooperation and investment from within racing to pull off a similar (if smaller-scaled accomplishment). Considering the difficulty the various factions and entities have had coming together to do something truly important, I expect no ambitious tech initiatives launching in the near future.

(Thanks for the Insider link alert, Pull the Pocket.)


True story: I am at the cottage last year on Derby Day. I have wireless internet access, but no cable or sat TV, so I open my ADW and watch the Churchill card. Five minutes before post the screen goes blank and it tells me to watch it on NBC. I scoured looking for pirated TV via google for two minutes, gave up and called a friend to listen to it.

Another story. Back when I was a kid my cousin lived with us and he bet football. One Sunday he bet the Falcons. There was no TV coverage and scores were not given very often so he called Fulton County Stadium and asked the receptionist to give him the play by play for the last two minutes.

It is strange that I can read a post about MLB live streaming on an Iphone, and in the same breath I can relate a 1979 story and link it to 2009 racing.

Life is pretty wild in our business.

Ok, thankfully I am all storied-out.

Posted by PTP on April 7, 2009 @ 12:57 am

I’ve looked into this MLB.tv stuff in my quest to fully divest myself of cable television. We’re *almost* at the point where it’s possible to live life with a television and have good content on demand and live streaming of events without giving one penny to a cable company (but still obviously paying for an internet connection).

But the problem with MLB.tv, similar to the problem that PTP mentions, is that there are local blackouts. As a Met fan in the metro area, I would not be able to watch Met games on MLB.tv.

The tech is there, unfortunately the powers that be are still getting in the way.

Posted by o_crunk on April 7, 2009 @ 8:05 am

I don’t think this $75M figure is all that scary, when we look at what racing is doing. Day at the Track has a 4 video box that they spent $$ developing. I heard TS is spending millions on their video, and are improving it every day. Youbet has proprietary video. Each website pays for big bandwidth already. And there are many others.

What if each ADW and each racetrack decided that video was more than something to compete with and had everything on one website that they each contribute to? I think it is a possibility and would result in advancement for the medium.

However, there would be TV considerations with TVG, HRTV and HPITV here in Canada I guess. Regardless, this money is already being spent, we just do not hear about it much, and I dont think it is spent in the best way, or as good as it could be (with a plan).

Posted by PTP on April 7, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

I was reading yesterday that the relaunch of MLB.tv hasn’t gone smoothly, and that many subscribers are having trouble with streaming. So, blackouts, and tech problems … I admit, the service has limitations. And any online racing channel would have similar problems, with NY racing blocked to NY residents, exclusives, broadcast channels owning rights to certain races, etc. Still, it’s not impossible …

Posted by Jessica on April 9, 2009 @ 9:01 am