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.
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 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.