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When it comes to getting paid online video streaming right, no one really matches up to MLB.tv, the online video arm of MLB Advanced Media. And today it is celebrating its 10th birthday. MLB.tv went live on August 26, 2002 when New York Yankees starter Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez threw a pitch against Texas Rangers’ Hollandsworth.
That game was watched by 30,000 baseball fans across the globe. Those 30,000 fans have turned into millions of fans across the world and that little experiment is now a mega-million dollar business. Since its launch, the service has broadcast 1.5 billion live video streams and has accumulated a total of 3.7 million subscribers.
Today in order to succeed, services need to go beyond the web. And ubiquity means being on multiple devices. Like, Netflix, MLB.tv, got that right very early in the game. MLB Advanced Media is one of the more progressive online services as it has evolved with the times, adapting to viewing behavior of its customers. When broadband speeds increased, MLB.tv increased its online video quality. When tablets became popular, it created apps for the iPad and later for Android devices including the Kindle Fire.
As popularity of Roku and Apple TV grew, they made apps for those platforms as well. It is on XBox live and is slowly making its away to all sorts of connected devices. For 2012, MLB.tv is streaming 1.1 million live video streams per day. So far in 2012, MLB.tv has seen 27.3 million mobile live video streams. In the first week of 2012 baseball season, MLB saw 3 million downloads of its At Bat 2012 iPad app. At present there isn’t a professional sports league that holds a candle to MLB’s online arm.
From a personal perspective, during the baseball season, I don’t think I can last a single day without MLB.tv. Being a participant in a fantasy baseball league, I use the service and its advanced features to keep an eye on some of my players. (I am second to last this season, but can’t blame the streaming service for my picks and their injuries.) I can safely say, had it not been for MLB.tv, I wouldn’t have been an early (perhaps earliest) cord cutter. I hope these guys keep making baseball more fun in years to come.