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Let’s get right to  it, bulletpoint form:

  • For the first time, MLB.tv is going to be available in “hi-def.” That’s internet HD, which won’t look as good as HD TV, but is a world away from the grainy video we had just a few years ago. This is a pretty good example of bandwidth / streaming costs falling; even a year or two ago, this type of video would have been prohibitively expensive for MLBAM to stream live.
  • I talked about MLB.tv’s black-box cost structure yesterday. What’s most interesting about it is that as MLBAM changes (and upgrades) the product every year, the costs that go with distributing it also have to change. So presumably, this means that they have to renogotiate their agreements with their CDN before every season. It’s possible that they got a significantly better rate due to the economy, and decided to pass some of those savings off to the customers. Now if only we knew anything about their margins…
  • If you like baseball, and you like hockey, you might want to get in on this offer: MLBAM and NHL.com are offering a bundled subscription
    package for $139.95. That’s an outright recession special: $50 (or about 40%) off the combined listed price.
  • I touched on this in November: MLBAM is switching from Silverlight to Flash. Amen.

  • In-game DVR sounds really cool, and is something I’ve always wanted when watching MLB.tv. We finally get it this season.
  • We’ll now get to choose which audio feed we want to listen to for each game we watch. So if I’m watching the Giants and Rockies, I can listen to Kruk and Kuip even if it’s the Rockies’ video feed.
  • In the article linked above (top bullet), SAI reports that there were 500,000 MLB.tv subscribers last year, “generating tens of millions of dollars in revenue.” That doesn’t really jive with with BusinessWeek’s estimate that MLB.tv accounted for half of the company’s $450 million in revenue. Even if all 500K subscribers had the Premium package, that’s only $60M. I tend to believe BW in this case, purely because it passes the laugh test (how else would the company have gotten to $450M?). Maybe they mean 500K Premium subscribers?

Feedback? Write a comment, or e-mail the author at shawn(AT)squawkingbaseball.com


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  1. on February 10th at 12:51 pm
    Ryan Lawler said:

    Just a quick note about MLB’s content delivery. MLB uses Swarmcast for its delivery, and has for a few years now. This is interesting because Swarmcast works by blending traffic from multiple CDNs, which allows it to gracefully scale up when it needs to, and also enables it to get better overall prices than if it just used one or two primary CDNs. Delivery costs in general have fallen pretty rapidly over the last few years, especially for very high-volume publishers, though CDN prices have begun to stabilize in recent quarters. Chances are, even though it will be pushing higher-def video, the combination of better video codecs and lower delivery costs mean that it will probably be spending less on delivery per subscriber than it did last year. This is just my hunch, since I haven’t spoken directly to MLB yet, but I’ll update you if I do.

  2. on February 10th at 01:09 pm
    Shawn said:

    Good stuff Ryan. Here’s what I’m really interested in: the static price of streaming goes down x%, but MLB upgrades to 720p… what are the overall savings, on a percentage basis, for each subscriber. If it’s higher than 10%, MLB should still be able to increase its margins, even with the price cuts.

  3. on February 10th at 06:27 pm
    Bogart said:

    Very happy about the sound feed…only, as a Padres fan, I get it a year too late to listen to Matty V…

  4. on February 11th at 12:58 am
    Dave Ireland said:

    What portion of BAM’s revenue is advertising and transaction fees on internet ticket orders?

  5. on February 11th at 12:48 pm
    Shawn said:

    Dave — BW had $225M for MLB.tv, $225 for advertising and “others.” Tough to break it down further than that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if advertising is less than half of that $225M.

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