Rounding Third: MLB gets into the 'wrasslin' business
By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Major League Baseball's online entity, MLB.TV, is a pretty solid product compared to the other major professional sports.
But it could be so much better.
On Wednesday, we got a glimpse at just how much better it can be and likely will be from a surprise source -- World Wrestling Entertainment.
WWE chairman and chief executive officer Vince McMahon unveiled the first-ever 24/7 streaming network that, according to most, will change the way we view not only the way we watch sports, but television in general.
McMahon's product will not only give fans access to the company's vast video- on-demand library, but also will include all 12 of the WWE's pay-per-view events - including WrestleMania.
You get all that for the low price of $10. Heck, if someone would buy a PPV like Wrestlemania, it would run them $75 for a high definition experience.
Not to mention there will be original programming on the platform that will be streaming 24/7 and those shows will immediately go into the VOD vault upon completion.
McMahon has always been ahead of the game when it comes to these sort of things. You can laugh at his failed XFL all you want, but the NFL has adopted some of his ideas, including the "sky cam." And, by the way, the NBA is wearing jerseys on Friday that feature players' nicknames.
Does He Hate Me ring a bell?
So it's no surprise that McMahon is ahead of the curve here. He clearly had a vision and realized that a traditional "network" wasn't the way to go. If you want to mock him for his XFL venture, you can make the argument that he may have been a little stubborn.
That's where Major League Baseball Advanced Media stepped in.
McMahon collaborated with the people at MLBAM and came up this incredible over-the-top digital distribution that will be available on desktops and laptops through the WWE website, as well as the WWE App on Amazon's Kindle Fire devices, Android devices such as Samsung Galaxy, IOS devices such as Apple IPad and IPhone, Roku streaming devices, Sony PlayStation 3 and Sony PlayStation 4, and Xbox 360. Availability on additional devices, including Xbox One and select Smart TVs, will follow this summer.
"We applaud WWE for this bold, timely and strategic move to fully optimize the power and potential of live entertainment," said Bob Bowman, president and CEO of MLBAM. "We are proud to work with WWE to help provide its millions of loyal fans with unencumbered access to distinctive and engaging live content across the devices they use most."
MLBAM distributes all of ESPN's online video, including the BCS Championship game, and it serves up all the March Madness live games for Turner and CBS. In other words, they know what they are doing.
Its At Bat app is as successful a sports app as there is. And thanks to the WWE, it's going to be that much better.
MLB had always been criticized for being very strict with its videos when it came to YouTube. If anything was put up, it was immediately removed. But, if you can't beat them, join them. MLB finally gave in this past year and created its own channel on the video-sharing website and allowed fans to view a wide variety of moments from baseball's past.
Anyone want to wager a bet that the At Bat App and MLB TV essentially become the same thing in the not-so-distant future? Just look at what WWE is doing with its library; imagine what MLB could do.
Or any sport for that matter. If you could tell me right now that I could go and watch old New York Jets games from the 1980s, I may never leave my house again.
The WWE raised the bar on Wednesday. Now it's time for the "real" sports to try and keep up.
01/09 13:27:51 ET