There’s no question that baseball has been at the forefront of pushing technological advances, and its app has been the highest grossing sports application in the Apple ecosystem for six consecutive years.
But when Baer and others talk about MLB’s opportunity in digital, they aren’t just talking about the opportunity to separate consumers from $20 for a mobile app, or $140 for an MLB.tv subscription; they’re talking about the opportunity to turn their first-mover advantage into a business that profits from other companies attempting to get up and running in the digital streaming environment.
Over the last two years, MLB has pushed heavily in this direction.
Last August, MLB struck a deal with the National Hockey League that signaled an even more aggressive direction for its digital division. Instead of simply being a technology partner, MLB acquired the NHL’s digital streaming rights, paying $100 million per year for ownership of the hockey league’s digital broadcast rights, making MLB a full-on rights-holder.
That agreement signaled that Major League Baseball expects to be a player in the market providing live sports (besides just baseball) to the cord-cutting generation. The NHL deal gives MLB three sports—already cemented was an agreement with the PGA to provide early-round coverage of events, since traditional networks cover only the weekends—that it theoretically could package together in a bundle, and positions MLB to become a supplemental option for the Netflix crowd.
Source: The Hardball Times