Thursday is opening day for the Major League Baseball season, and a new update for the MLB.com At Bat app has arrived just in time. The update brings a number of new features, including the ability to watch all out-of-market games live on your device free during the month of April.
Live game video streaming is usually only available if, in addition to purchasing the app, you also have MLB.TV subscription access (which you can also now access on your Apple TV, by the way). For April, Volvo is sponsoring a free trial of live streaming for all MLB.com app owners (iPad and iPhone versions). It’s sure to be a hit with those who’ve yet to decide whether or not they want to sign up for a full MLB.TV subscription, but it might also alienate some who decided to take the plunge early and pay full price ahead of this feature introduction.
The app also introduces a completely redesigned Gameday feature, which displays pitch-by-pitch live info on a virtual version of the actual at-bat live for users without live video access. The updated Gameday now features ballpark renderings from MLB 11: The Show, a PlayStation baseball simulation video game.
Finally, users of the apps will also be able to view key plays and occasional live clips, black-out games included, and watch past 2011 season games on-demand in the archive after they air. iPhone users will also be able to access new At the Ballpark features, including check-ins, maps of stadiums, special deals and social media features.
Android users won’t get the month-long free preview or access to archived games, but instead will get one free live out-of-market game every day for the duration of the season, and all the other new features mentioned above that are coming to the iPhone version.
I plan to spend April hooking up my iPad 2 to the TV using HD mirroring to watch baseball, something I haven’t done regularly since I was very young. This is definitely a smart move from an organization looking to attract new viewers, though I find it surprising that the iOS apps are still distinct, and not a single, universal version. We’ll see if it translates into higher subscription numbers once the trial is over.