Major League Baseball Advanced Media plans to pick a vendor next week to build a mobile ad platform and have it in place within a month after the season begins. In an interview with paidContent, MLBAM CEO Bob Bowman said that even though mobile advertising and streaming have achieved a lot more prominence in the past year, “There hasn’t been any company capable of serving and trafficking ads for the amount of live streaming games we have, so we’re going to build it ourselves.”
The importance of mobile and video to MLBAM’s business grew substantially last year. In 2008, mobile comprised 8 percent of MLBAM’s traffic; in 2010, it represented 37 percent of all of MLBAM’s vistors. On the video front, in 2010, MLBAM, the digital business arm of Major League Baseball, said its viewers racked up 9.5 billion minutes of streamed ballgames across all devices, including wired.
It’s safe to say that 2011 is likely to surpass those numbers, as even more devices become available and the iPhone adds carrier duties to Verizon in addition to AT&T (NYSE: T). In addition to the iPhone/iPad, MLBAM’s At Bat app is also available on Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Android phones and the Blackberry, though the latter can’t handle video streaming, only audio.
In terms of pricing, MLB.tv had two full-season pricing options in 2010: $119.95 for MLB.TV Premium and $99.95 for the basic video package. Each level included full portable access to that “.tv” subscription across a range of mobile phones within the At Bat apps as well as other connected devices (PS3, Roku, Boxee, among others). The At Bat apps were $14.99 for each of the various platforms (iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Android). At launch in 2011, .TV live streaming again will be on each of those except Blackberry. Other devices that can handle the live streaming will be added as they hit the marketplace (Xoom is one likely candidate) over the course of the 2011 season.
“Mobile usage (for MLBAM) may be bigger than wired in a year or two,” Bowman said. “That’s why we want a complete ad system for mobile in place now. With all the talk about ‘TV Everywhere’ and authentication coming together, this really is the right time to do this.”