In what has become a yearly tradition for late February, Major League Baseball today updated its MLB At Bat app for the 2014 baseball season. The app, perennially one of the most popular -- and highest grossing -- on the App Store, received a top-to-bottom redesign to match iOS 7 and to improve the user experience.

Photos and video are more prevalent in At Bat, running edge-to-edge and inline with other content. For example, video embedded in a news article displays within the article itself, with users able to tap a full-screen button if they wish. The redesign emphasizes MLB's aim to improve the fan experience and help technology augment the game and otherwise get out of the way.

Showing how the design team has embraced subtlety, text and selection highlights in the app change depending on which team a user selects as their "favorite". For example, a Red Sox fan will see red highlights throughout the app, while a Yankees fan would see navy blue. A MLB spokesperson told MacRumors that the app is the mobile focus point for millions of baseball fans and the design teams strive to make the app seem like home, no matter which team they're a fan of.

MLB At Bat

Long hailed as the standard bearer for introducing features that matter to fans, At Bat this year will report for live Spring Training games with a full app re-design for iOS 7 on iPhone and iPad, among other new enhancements. Fans again will have access to the core functionality At Bat has pioneered over its first five years, including: personalized team experiences to deliver a linear feed of content for a designated favorite team; searchable libraries of tens of thousands of video-on-demand highlight clips; and customizable original news reporting and fantasy baseball analysis from MLB.com club beat reporters and national columnists.

Like last year, there are two main subscription packages for the iPhone and iPad -- a $130/season MLB.tv Premium offering that includes live home-and-away television broadcasts for out-of-market games, as well as live home-and-away radio broadcasts. It also includes the ability to watch on any device regardless of how the viewer purchases the package -- users can buy MLB.tv Premium via a $130 in-app purchase can watch live games within the app, as well as on the Apple TV, Xbox, PlayStation or any number of other connected devices.

The cheaper At Bat 2014 product, available as a $20/season in-app purchase, offers home-and-away radio broadcasts with no blackout restrictions. Both the Premium and At Bat services are also available as month-to-month subscriptions, though the whole-season package is quite a bit cheaper than buying month-to-month.

MLB At Bat Live Game
MLB Advanced Media told MacRumors that the company is aware that customers would very much like to stream local games without blackout restrictions, but that the content deals to allow that are extremely complex and difficult to negotiate. It also is well into its iBeacon rollout and expects to have twenty ballparks outfitted with the devices by Opening Day. The At The Ballpark app will see an update before then to support the new iBeacons.

MLB At Bat is a free download from the App Store for iPhone and iPad. [Direct Link]

Top Rated Comments

IJ Reilly Avatar
131 months ago
Poor you. No really, that really sucks to be 400 miles away and still be considered in their market?! That's bs.

Without blackout rules, I would buy the full subscription every single year. If I could get myself to my big screen TV, of course that's where I'm going to watch. I'd only rely on this app for day games away from home, or other situations that prevent me from being on my couch. But I'd still pay for it.

Since they're able to tell I am in their market, and in turn black me out.. how about they just show me the commercials that are on TV instead of the "be right back" message. That way the ads will still hit my brain as if I were at home.
I'm sure it is due to the MLB and advertisers unable to come to a financial agreement. I mean, what else could it be? It doesn't make sense anymore, especially with how many people have phones and tablets vs 3-4 years ago.

Heck, I'd even be OK with having to authenticate my Comcast subscription like the Olympics app required (even though so many games are over the air) and still pay the $130 a year.
You are missing the point, just like nearly everybody else. It isn't about commercials. The in-market broadcast rights to these games are owned by the teams, and the teams license these rights for massive dollars to cable companies and satellite providers, costs they in turn pass along to subscribers. For MLB to broadcast these games, they'd have to compensate all of the rights licensees for every lost viewer. Since the licensees have absolutely no reason to think about losing revenue, let alone trying to calculate how much compensation they should get for every MLB subscriber, this conversation isn't going to happen.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FakeWozniak Avatar
131 months ago
I think the cable companies are ruining technological advances in content delivery. The recent Comcast/TimeWarner deal will set back content delivery another decade. I'm going to stop watching ABC shows as they force me to carry a cable TV subscription *even though* I am already watching their commercials.

If you're from MLB and reading this, tell me what the price is to get live local games w/o blackout and you may find I will pay it.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IJ Reilly Avatar
131 months ago
Makes sense.

However, why can't they do something like NBC did with the Olympics? If you logged in with your TV subscriber info, you got to watch unlimited coverage of the Olympics.

If you already pay your TV company to get the games, you wouldn't be a "lost viewer", since you're already paying for the TV channel anyway. (Well, I suppose people could theoretically share their TV login data with friends who don't pay for TV...)

Meh, whatever, I bought the full season of Premium anyway, because I like watching the rest of the league.
NBC had more Olympics material than they could broadcast during primetime, and they also owned the broadcast rights. Could you watch the online content if you were an over-air viewer of NBC?

In any case the big issue with MLB is the fragmentation into market areas. If MLB created new rules that reserved in-market online broadcast rights for MLB.com then over time, as new media contracts were signed, the situation would change. But like I said, MLB is the 30 franchises, and they probably don't see any reason to give anything away, since media rights are their biggest cash cow.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IJ Reilly Avatar
131 months ago
Extremely difficult, perhaps, but not impossible.

When MLB.tv launched 12 years ago, here in Japan ALL live games were blacked out in the At Bat app, reputedly because of the broadcasting rights NHK (an over-the-air network) had licensed from MLB.

By 2010, the blackouts had ended, even though NHK still has MLB broadcasting rights.

If MLB really wanted to get the blackouts lifted, it could.
I don't think these are comparable situations. In the case you describe, it was apparent that MLB had the broadcast rights and was negotiating with only one carrier in Japan. If only it was so simple in the states. MLB doesn't own the in-market broadcast rights to teams so each and every team strikes its own media deal with a broadcaster. And then the fun really starts.

For instance, the Dodgers just signed a 25-year media deal with TWC worth something like $8B to the Dodgers. TWC in turn negotiates with other in-market providers to carry the games. So far, nobody of significance has signed on, so it could happen that a large part of the Dodgers' home market won't be carrying Dodgers games when the season starts in a few weeks -- and those are carriers who know their subscriber base numbers, and how much cost they can get away with passing along to their subscribers.

Could TWC negotiate a carrier agreement with MLB? Maybe, but I don't see any movement in that direction, and I think maybe it's because neither MLB (which is made up by its franchise members) doesn't see any need, and the carriers would see it as just another way to lose subscribers, which is already a problem for them. It's a mess.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
darkslide29 Avatar
131 months ago
I live about 400 miles from DC and the Nats games would still be blacked out in this app. Hasn't anyone found a workaround?

Poor you. No really, that really sucks to be 400 miles away and still be considered in their market?! That's bs.

Without blackout rules, I would buy the full subscription every single year. If I could get myself to my big screen TV, of course that's where I'm going to watch. I'd only rely on this app for day games away from home, or other situations that prevent me from being on my couch. But I'd still pay for it.

Since they're able to tell I am in their market, and in turn black me out.. how about they just show me the commercials that are on TV instead of the "be right back" message. That way the ads will still hit my brain as if I were at home.
I'm sure it is due to the MLB and advertisers unable to come to a financial agreement. I mean, what else could it be? It doesn't make sense anymore, especially with how many people have phones and tablets vs 3-4 years ago.

Heck, I'd even be OK with having to authenticate my Comcast subscription like the Olympics app required (even though so many games are over the air) and still pay the $130 a year.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IJ Reilly Avatar
131 months ago
"extremely complex and difficult to negotiate."

:translation:

Insanely expensive.

More like impossible. Those broadcast rights have already been sold for huge bucks, and many are tied up for decades.

----------

I live about 400 miles from DC and the Nats games would still be blacked out in this app. Hasn't anyone found a workaround?

Proxy servers supposedly work.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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