Category Archives: Digital/Online

Forbes.com: Fox, MLB in Talks to Stream Local Broadcasts

(h/t forbes.com)

(h/t forbes.com)

On the heels on an interview Maury Brown of Forbes.com had with Rob Manfred, the new MLB Commissioner, in which the latter’s statement that Baseball’s blackout policy is a by-product of a territories system that is the “foundation of the very structure of the league”—a statement that blazed a trail throughout the American social media landscape all this week—comes word from Brown that MLB and Fox are in negotiations to air all Fox regional sports networks (RSN) baseball broadcasts into local markets via streaming, something that has been unavailable since the beginning of streaming.

Under the plan, MLB Advanced Media is seeking to stream games broadcast by Fox RSNs within the team’s local market through their MLB.TV app, which is available on computers such as PC and Mac desktops and laptops; through set-top devices such as Xbox, Playstations, Apple TV, smart TVs and the like; and through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets using the MLB At Bat app.  Fox Sports would also like to participate in the streaming action, showing games on their own Fox Sports Go app which is also available most if not all the same devices.  Brown says this control of the stream is a major sticking point holding up the agreement, which is said to be in the late stages of negotiation.

As Brown indicates, an agreement between Fox and MLB would free about 40% of all regional and local broadcasts to be streamed within their teams’ local markets, since that represents Fox’s share of such broadcasts.  The other major RSNs operated by Comcast and Root Sports don’t appear to be part of the talks; nor are RSNs owned and/or run by teams themselves, such as YES (Yankees), MASN (Orioles), NESN (Red Sox) and a few others.

From a user standpoint, viewers would log into their MLB.TV account, authenticate their pay-TV service’s credentials while doing so, and if successful, be released from their local blackout.  It’s not clear from Brown’s article whether users would need to authenticate pay-TV credentials when logging into MLB.TV upfront, or separately when trying to specifically access their Fox local market game, but if MLB follows the path of making the most sense it would definitely be the latter, since that would mean a cord cutter wouldn’t be able to use MLB.TV at all, for lack of upfront pay-TV credentials.

Speaking of whom: assuming this last point is true, cord cutters are still losers under this arrangement, since they would have no pay-TV log in credentials to use to bypass their local blackout.  Well, at least technically that’s true, as it is well understood that many people with login credentials for Netflix, Hulu and other pay services freely and gladly share those credentials with friends and family who have no such credentials.  But if you had to pick one and only one company who could figure out a way to undermine that kind of sharing, though, wouldn’t MLBAM have to be your first, if not only, guess, since their business model promotes restricting access as much as possible?  They would be mine, anyway.

However, when you think about it, it becomes clear that neither MLB nor their partner broadcasters care much for cord cutters anyway, for obvious reasons.  For one thing, they’re not pay TV customers, and furthermore probably won’t become customers anytime soon, and the relationship between the broadcasters and MLB is strong enough that MLB wouldn’t risk offending their broadcaster partners by trying to do some kind of end-around to get cord cutters on board the blackout removal train.  For another thing, cord cutters are a very small percentage of total households, less than 11% in total, so in terms of scale of effort versus return on investment, it just wouldn’t be worth MLB’s time.

Also losing in this arrangement, as it stands today, would be MLB.TV customers in the very largest DMAs (i.e., TV markets) in the country, as well as the ancillary DMAs that belong within their MLB territories.  Of the top ten DMAs, eight of them do not have Fox among their local RSNs: New York; Los Angeles (outside of Orange County); Chicago; Philadelphia; San Francisco-Oakland; Boston; Washington DC; and Houston.  These eight DMAs make up 25% of all the TV households in the country, and when you add the secondary markets within their teams’ territories into the mix, it probably adds another five to ten points to that number (source: author’s SWAG).

Nevertheless, this does seem to be a decent first step towards solving the MLB blackout conundrum that has vexed not only the actual business of Major League Baseball, but also the public’s perception of Major League Baseball as a business, which has not been held in the highest of esteem for some time.  Little by each, however—we’ll accept and applaud these first steps as the Big Baby takes them.

News Bites for January 31, 2015

Serie Del Caribe Logo.
(h/t channelguidemagblog.com)

Serie del Caribe: Caribbean World Series 2015 TV schedule. All thirteen games will air in Spanish only on ESPN Deportes starting February 2, although ESPNDeportes.com launched a microsite in advance of the tournament this past Wednesday, January 28.  Coverage will be provided by “Caribbean Baseball Hall of Famer Candy Maldonado, and baseball experts Ernesto Jerez, Luis Alfredo Alvarez, Carolina Guillen, Enrique Rojas, Guillermo Celis, Eitan Benezra and Jorge Eduardo Sanchez”.

Bobby Ojeda splits with SNY as sides fail to agree on new contract. Even though Ojeda was said to have “absolutely wanted to” return, a agreement could not be reached between the two sides.

Baseball Scheduled for Four Games on National Television. The  University of Cincinnati will air two on SEC Network + on February 13 and 14, and on SEC Network on March 10 and 25.

Rome Braves games to be broadcast on 99.5 the Jock. Starting with the April 9 season opener, all 140 games will be handled by Kevin Karel on play-by-play and Charlie Johnson on color.

UCF Announces 2015 Baseball Radio Schedule. The University of Central Florida will air 28 home and away games on Orlando’s 740 The Game, anchored by Marc Daniels.

MANY HAPPY RETURNS, UECK. Even at age 81, Bob Uecker looks to be in good enough shape to get up to his seats “in the front ro-o-o-ow”.

Twins announce Spring Training broadcast schedule. Twelve games will be televised on Fox Sports North starting March 4, and 18 games will be carried on radio on twinsbaseball.com, with 14 of them also airing on Go 96.3 in the Twin Cities.

Baseball and Softball Added to Bear Sports Network. Twenty-five Washington University baseball contests (and sixteen softball tilts) will stream live on bearsports.wustl.edu, beginning February 24.  Matt Schumaker will fly solo in the booth on the baseball side.

Bulldog broadcast schedule set for 2015 baseball season. The Cumberland University Bulldogs will air 29 of their 55 games split between WANT 98.9 FM and WCOR 1490 AM beginning February 28.  The remaining 26 games will stream on the Internet only.

MLB Veterans Join Baseball Broadcast Crew. Oklahoma University will benefit from the insights of George Frazier and Mickey Tettleton on the 21 games being aired by the Sooner Sports TV network across four FOX RSNs.  They will split color duties in support of play-by-play announcer Chad McKee.

LCU Baseball Online Broadcasts are Back.  All Lubbock Christian games will be broadcast “in some form”, although all those forms will be exclusively online.

MLBAM is Not Just a TV Channel. It’s a Megadigitalmedia Behemoth.

Maury Brown, a writer who freelances for Forbes magazine, has written an illuminating article about Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) in which the big reveal is that they are much more than simply the source for your MLB.TV broadcast.  They are a multibillion dollar digital media and content infrastructure company that powers some of the better known video streaming sites across the Internet.  Not only are they are into the delivery of their own baseball product, but also analytics (serving top websites such as Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs and Baseball Reference);  infrastructure (powering Disney’s WatchESPN and Time’s 120Sports.com); and ticketing (owners of Tickets.com) as well.  Compared with other sports, they are way, way, WAY beyond the leading edge of integrating digital media into its business portfolio.

Read all about it here:

The Biggest Media Company You’ve Never Heard Of

The AP Will Provide ‘Faster, More Engaging’ Game Summaries Starting 7/28/14

News from the print world this week is that the Associated Press will substantially change the way they write up games after they are played.  Instead of chronicling “every big play, every no-hitter and every controversy on the field during the hundreds of games that make up the major league baseball season”, AP will go to a “shorter, … faster” format meant to better engage readers in this ever accelerating world of ours.  (No quote marks on that last one, there—that one’s pure Chuck.)

Here’s how writeups will change:

The basics won’t change: We will continue to publish a NewsNow at game’s end, a 300-word writethru shortly after, followed by a 600-word writethru and a hometown lead.

What will change is how those stories look. The top of the story will continue to look like a traditional AP game story. After 300 words, the text will break into a chunky-text presentation featuring up to five bullet points that explain team storylines, key plays, injuries and a look ahead to what’s next for a team or player.

A “chunky-text presentation”, which looks to be a uniquely AP appellation coined specifically for this press release, appears to occur when a story breaks into short paragraphs set off by in-story headline-like phrases in capital letters, like so:

TIPPING PITCHES?

One night after Cleveland’s struggling right-hander Danny Salazar said he might be tipping his pitches, Indians manager Terry Francona said the 24-year-old Salazar is just leaving too many over the plate. Francona was surprised Salazar would say he was giving hitters clues.

“He’s not,” Francona said. “There were some instances last year in spring training that we kind of addressed with him. But, no, we really keep an eye on that.”

SLUMPS

Royals: Perez snapped an 0-for-22 slump with a drive over the center field wall off Masterson in the second inning for his first homer. The Royals catcher with a .295 average in three-plus seasons entered batting just .211 in 71 at-bats.

Indians: Third baseman-designated hitter Carlos Santana is in a 2-for-46 (.043) slide.

Both Ed Sherman (he of the eponymous Report) and Joe Lucia (at Fang’s Bites) like the idea, believing this change will make it easier for readers to digest (no more “meaningless information” that means nothing to the game’s bottom line) and for AP writers to whip up (less time-consuming and more opportunity for creative writing).  OK, we’ll go with that opinion as well.

Read more here:

A faster, new format for AP’s Major League Baseball game stories

Associated Press to go to bullet style for baseball game stories

THE AP IS CHANGING THEIR GAME STORY FORMAT

Rangers Beat Writer Durrett Dead at 38

Richard Durrett, a Texas Rangers beat writer for ESPNDallas.com, passed away Tuesday at the age of 38.  The cause of death has not yet been officially announced, but reports unconfirmed as of Wednesday mid-afternoon are that the cause was a brain aneurysm.  Services are pending.

ESPNDallas.com Richard Durrett died Tuesday at the age of 38.

Prior to joining ESPN in September 2009, Durrett was at The Dallas Morning News for nine years, and was previously sports editor at the Record-Chronicle in Denton, Texas. In addition, he hosted a radio show on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM with Ian Fitzsimmons for a number of years.

It is always jarring to hear of anyone so young dying so suddenly, and at the hand of a cause that could happen to anyone anytime, and which strikes without warning.   Durrett is survived by his wife, Kelly, and two children.  If you are inclined to, you can say a prayer or hold a good thought for his survivors.  Or, if you are more into action than thoughts, you can donate to a fund set up to benefit the Durrett family on the Rangers website, at texasrangers.com/foundation.

Read more about this story here:

ESPN Dallas’ Richard Durrett dies suddenly at age 38

ESPN Dallas’ Richard Durrett dies

Richard Durrett has left us too soon

Pablo Sandoval Owes Reds Beat Reporter A New Laptop

Well, this is a hell of an occupational hazard for a baseball beat reporter.

During the top of the eighth inning of Tuesday night’s Giants/Reds tilt in Cincinnati, Pablo Sandoval fouled one up into the press box.  There are lots of targets up there, and the ball found one in Mark Sheldon’s Thinkpad.

Check out the priceless reaction:

 

Sheldon’s subsequent tweet indicates a confirmed kill:

The Reds won the game, 8-3, although it’s a little unclear as to how Sheldon communicated as much to MLB.com.

(h/t Business Insider)

 

All Star, World Series Games to be Streamed Online Starting This Year

As reported by Maury Brown in his Forbes column, MLB Advanced Media announced late last week that fans will be able to stream Fox’s broadcasts of the All Star Game and World Series games to their computers and mobile devices.  This capability comes online per MLB’s new broadcast agreement with Fox that runs through 2021.

Previously, only TBS’s postseason broadcasts were available for viewing on such devices.

And the best part for fans is, they won’t have to pay extra for these games, as they have in previous years, as long as they already have MLB.tv for the year.  Yay!