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MLB.com Rolls Out Initial Schedule of Live Streamed Games for iPhone, iPod Touch PDF Print E-mail
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Mobile Devices
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 18 June 2009 11:43


After last night’s initial launch of live games streamed within MLB.com At Bat 2009 for iPhone and iPod Touch (see review here), fans can watch a pair of prominent Interleague Play rivalries today with the Chicago White Sox-Chicago Cubs from Wrigley Field at 2:20 p.m. (EDT) and the Detroit Tigers-St. Louis Cardinals from Busch Stadium at 8:15 p.m. (EDT).

Below are upcoming games scheduled to be available in MLB.com At Bat 2009 (all times are EDT; schedule subject to change; games subject to blackout restrictions). A continuously-updated schedule of live streaming games is available within the application.

Today

  • Chicago White Sox vs. Chicago Cubs, 2:20 p.m.
  • Detroit Tigers vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 8:15 p.m.

Friday, June 19

  • Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago Cubs, 2:20 p.m.
  • Atlanta Braves vs. Boston Red Sox, 7:10 p.m.

Saturday, June 20

  • Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago Cubs, 1:05 p.m.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 9:05 p.m.

Sunday, June 21

  • Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Mets, 1:10 p.m.
  • Florida Marlins vs. New York Yankees, 5:05 p.m.

Monday, June 22

  • Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves, 7:10 p.m.
  • Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 10:05 p.m.

Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Review: Streaming Live Video for At Bat 2009 for iPhone, iPod Touch a Gift That Keeps on Giving PDF Print E-mail
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Mobile Devices
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 18 June 2009 02:30

At Bat - Live Streaming

The ability to watch live streaming games via MLB.com's At Bat 2009 upgrade is a home run,
even if this pictured video quality is well out of reach at this time.

Ever since the launch of MLB.com’s At Bat application in July of last year, with each subsequent upgrade, the application has continued to improve. Whether it was the addition of Gameday, a live graphical representation of the batter-pitcher matchup, including a running play-by-play and identifying data for every pitch thrown (location, pitch type and pitch speed) generated directly from every Major League ballpark, or Gameday Audio, which allows you to listen to the home or away radio feed without blackouts for every game being played, or the addition of condensed game video, it seemed each major release was an early holiday gift.

With the latest release of At Bat 2009 that coincided with Apple’s 3.0 OS upgrade for iPhone and iPod Touch, the bar is pushed to its highest point yet with the addition of live game feeds, making it the MLB.TV for mobile devices. With a free upgrade price, or $9.99 for those that have yet to purchase that package that runs for the rest of the regular and postseason, it’s a great deal. But, as we’ll see (or not, depending on your point of view), there are still some technological hurdles to overcome with the video quality.

Getting Started

To start with, the upgrade requires having OS 3.0 for iPhone and iPod Touch installed. The upgrade is free for current iPhone users, with iPod Touch users having to drop $9.95 for the latest OS upgrade. I upgraded a matter of minutes after the download was available, and within approx. an hour, iPhone’s App Store widget notified me that the upgrade for 1.2 of At Bat 2009 was available.

Once installed and launched, a banner reading Watch LIVE Video Tomorrow was displayed. Clicking on it gave a listing of two games each from Thursday to Monday. But, by Weds. evening, notification from MLB.com informed us that they were up a day early with games in production, streaming the Yankees-Nationals game followed by the Dodgers-A's game. MLB.com has said that a full slate of games, such as are available via MLB.TV, the online out-of-market package, should be available shortly. No hard date has been released as to when that might be.

Picking which games are available out of the At Bat 2009 menu is as easy as looking for the “TV” button to the right of the game listing menu. Once selected, MLB.com’s patented geolocation functionality kicked in thus pinpointing exactly where you are located for blackout purposes (see MLB television territory map for details). If you are outside of the blackout territory for a given game, a splash screen notifies you that the game is about to start being streamed.

Video Controls

I was late taking in the Yankees-Nationals game, but was able to catch all of the A’s-Dodgers tilt. As the image above shows, the simple controls allow for DVR-like  functionalities such as rewind, pause, and “reset to current” buttons that dissolve after a few seconds or by tapping the screen. A slider is present for volume control that can be accessed from the screen, or by using the volume control on the side of the devices.

A key under-the-covers aspect of the app deals with leveraging standards-based http streaming technology with the video stream rate having an adaptive bitrate depending on whether your device is accessing WiFi, or carrier networks such as G3 or Edge.

Streaming Quality

We tested the application and streaming quality using a second generation 8gig iPhone with G3, both in a single location and while in transit between cells. Buffering of the game only occurred once when in transit.

As for the picture quality using G3 networking, the picture was, in a word, dithered. Reading the scoreboard bug was nearly impossible, and knowing what players were on base by reading jersey names and numbers was difficult from centerfield camera shots. Given the adaptive bitrate, we assume WiFi will be better while Edge networking with older model devices could be worse.

Video Quality Aside, a Great Upgrade

For those that already have At Bat 2009, the upgrade is nothing short of fantastic. While the ability to watch games live on the devices shouldn’t be considered a substitution for MLB.TV, it is, none the less, impressive. The functionality is a fantastic value-added piece that could take the edge off any evening train commute, or fill time waiting in line at the grocery store.

As for the compression quality for the video stream, this seems a technological hurdle that will soon be overcome. Much like the early days of online video streaming that saw dithering, that seems a far off memory now as video streaming online nears broadcast quality. The only real downside is having enough battery life to get full games in. The next generation of iPhones (3G S) are expected to have increased battery life that should allow one to watch an entire game without recharging. We very nearly made the entire A’s/Dodgers tilt before hooking up to the laptop for some added juice.

What is clear is that MLB Advanced Media, through MLB.com, is light-years ahead of other sports leagues in providing rich content. The ability to stream live game video to mobile devices, while talked of for several years, has, up till now, not fully come to fruition. In that sense, the latest At Bat 2009 upgrade is a pioneer of sorts, pushing the boundaries and showing what the future will bring for sports fans. The biggest challenge for MLBAM will be to outdo this version. From a functionality perspective, streaming video places the app in a near nirvana state when considering all the other bells and whistles such as Gameday Audio and Condensed Games that are available. What could be on the horizon? Since every other function available to MLB.com has been rolled into At Bat, why not Pitch F/X? Nothing seems impossible anymore for the award winning app, and one of the top selling apps for iPhone and iPod Touch.

NOTE: Thursday will see the Chicago White Sox-Chicago Cubs in an Interleague Play matchup from Wrigley Field as the first game to be streamed at 2:20 p.m. (EDT), with the Detroit Tigers-St. Louis Cardinals game from Busch Stadium at 8:15 p.m. (EDT). All games subject to blackout restrictions based on geolocation.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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New Version of MLB.com’s At Bat Will See Game Video Streamed Live PDF Print E-mail
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Mobile Devices
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 17 June 2009 07:54
iPod Touch Streaming video At Bat

CORRECTION: We initially reported that live games would begin streaming today. That is incorrect. Games will begin streaming Thurs., June 18

When MLB.com announced in March of this year that Gameday Audio would be available via their At Bat 2009 product, I went out on a limb and predicted that by 2010, an MLB Extra Innings type package for mobile devices would be available.

It seems I was off by a few months.

With today’s release of version 3.0 of Apple’s operating system fo iPhone and iPod Touch, MLB.com will release its latest version of At Bat that will allow live video streaming of games to the devices. But, unlike Gameday Audio for At Bat, this time blackout restrictions do apply. How will MLB.com know where you are? As reported in May, MLB.com has technology to track you (see MLBAM Issued Patent for Geolocation. Could MLB Extra Innings for Mobile Be Far Behind?).

Not every game that is available via league's out-of-market online package MLB.TV will be streamed for the mobile devices when the new version is launched. Thursday's interleague tilt between the White Sox and Cubs from Wrigley Field will be the first game streamed live (2:20 ET), followed by the night game between the Tigers and Cardinals (8:15 ET). Shortly thereafter, it is expected that the same package of games that are normally available through MLB.TV Premium will be rolled out.

Cost will continue to be $9.99 through the rest of the season, including the playoffs, and will be available via the App Store on iTunes.

Look for a review as soon as OS and latest version of At Bat is released, baring upgrade issues that were seen for iPhone OS 2.0


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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MLB.com's "At Bat 2009" for iPhone, iPod Touch Winner of an Apple Design Award PDF Print E-mail
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Mobile Devices
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 11 June 2009 08:49

At BatMLB.com announced yesterday that At Bat 2009, its interactive application designed exclusively for iPhone and iPod touch, was selected as a winner of an Apple Design Award in the iPhone Developer Showcase category. The award was announced on Tuesday night during ceremonies at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco.

Apple’s Design Awards recognize technical excellence, innovation, and outstanding achievement in iPhone and Mac software development.

The Apple Design Award comes on the heels of also being named Best in Sports Technology at the 2009 SportsBusiness Journal Awards on May 28 in New York.

For those that have not seen or used the application, it offers live audio broadcasts without blackout restrictions, a continuously updated scoreboard, MLB.com Gameday functionality, real-time video highlights and Condensed Games, a short-form video recap of the most important hits, pitches and outs of every game.

MLB.com At Bat for the 2009 baseball season, including the entire postseason, is available for a one-time fee of $9.99 from Apple’s iTunes App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore/. It remains the top-selling sports application and also ranks among the top 100 overall paid applications more than two months after becoming available.

Source: MLB Advanced Media


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Condensed Games Now Available via "At Bat" for iPhone, iPod Touch PDF Print E-mail
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Mobile Devices
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 09:05

At Bat

And the joy continues for MLB fans with iPhones.

MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, has made a highly acclaimed content addition – Condensed Games – to MLB.com At Bat 2009, the popular application developed exclusively for iPhone and iPod touch.

Condensed Games is a video recap product originally launched by MLB.com in 2002 that provides relevant game action compiled in a short-form video – under 10 minutes. The video highlights the most important hits, pitches and outs of every Major League Baseball game. Condensed Games are made available 90 minutes after each game’s final out.

In addition to Condensed Games, MLB.com At Bat 2009 currently offers live audio broadcasts without blackout restrictions, a continuously updated scoreboard, MLB.com Gameday functionality and real-time video highlights.

MLB.com At Bat for the 2009 baseball season, including the entire postseason, is available for a one-time fee of $9.99 from Apple’s App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore/.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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MLBAM Issued Patent for Geolocation. Could MLB Extra Innings for Mobile Be Far Behind? PDF Print E-mail
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Mobile Devices
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 14 May 2009 12:53

Geo location

Apple's iPhone already has a
geolocation function built it.
MLBAM now has a patent using
geolocation that could allow users
to see streaming video of games,
but be blacked out based upon
broadcast territories.

It has been something that has driven fans/consumers crazy: MLB’s broadcast blackout policy. Those that use MLB.TV have noted that, based on location, the blackout policy is enacted.

But, there isn't just a dark side to this story. There has been talk for some time (including here at The Biz of Baseball) that if the technology were available to allow dynamic geolocation tracking, MLB Extra Innings for mobile devices would not be far behind.

It seems that MLB Advanced Media (MLBA) is well on the way to that goal.

On behalf of the MLBAM Board of Directors, Chairman Bob DuPuy announced today that the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball has been granted a United States Patent for a system and method for verifying access based on a determined geographic location of a subscriber of a service provided via a computer network.

“It is an honor for MLB Advanced Media to receive the special recognition that constitutes a United States Patent,” said DuPuy. “The patent issuance is also representative of the innovation the MLBAM technology team demonstrates by remaining at the forefront of interactive and advance technologies. This entire team is to be congratulated and commended for its achievement.”

The full text and images of the United States Patent #7,486,943 are available here. MLB Advanced Media believes it marks the first United States Patent directly issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to the baseball industry in the modern era.

The patent states that, "The system and method can also apply to promotions, sweepstakes, contests, fantasy games, sale of goods and/or services, and targeted advertising."

In a key sign that MLBAM is not idle in pushing the technology envelope, it was mentioned in today’s press release that “the company has an additional 10 patent applications pending approval.”


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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MLBAM Releases "World Series 2009" for iPhone and iPod Touch PDF Print E-mail
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Mobile Devices
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 17 April 2009 12:22

World Series 2009 (image 1)

Click to see in larger view

World Series 2009 for iPhone (image 2)

Click to see in larger view

Yesterday, MLB Advanced Media, through MLB.com, released "World Series 2009", a game designed for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch. In what is believed to be a first for a sports league, the game was developed in-house. The application is available on iTunes for a one-time cost of $7.99.

The game’s appeal centers on accelerometer technology within the Apple products. This allows the user to rotate the devices for placement of pitches and bat location (see images provided). On the pitching side, when coupled with the velocity setting for pitches (the user selects the pitch type – fastball, curve, change-up, slider – and then sliding your finger along an arrow for speed) you can place pitches on the corners and up and down in the strike zone.

The game has all 30 teams with MLB logos. The game also has replicas of Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, and in a nod to the current World Series Champions, Citizens Bank Park.

The game also features a “pitcher fatigue” meter, which allows you to play manager and put in relievers when you see fit. On the offense side, you can advance runners, or send them back to bases by tapping the screen on a diagram of the diamond that is placed in the corner of the screen.  

A nice touch is the ability to recalibrate the device’s accelerometer. This is handy for those that are getting a crimp in their neck, and want to layback in their chair.  

The game is good fun, but does have a few shortcomings.

In a case of the app being developed strictly by the league, no player names or likenesses are used. The addition of the players, along with their associated strengths and weaknesses would have been a good added value aspect of the game. However, this would have most assuredly increased the cost of the app due to royalties being paid to the MLBPA.

A couple of other quirks… Close plays at the bags has the app offering up a “slide” button. This is cool when heading to second, third, or home, but let’s face it; a discerning fan will find it annoying when it pops up on first base all the time. Maybe “dive” would have been more appropriate at first. Another nitpick… When playing in “auto-defense mode”, infielders turnaround and chase the ball when it squirts through the infield, instead of the outfielder running up on the ball.

In terms of the scoring interface, white numbers on a light gray background made it difficult to read the score. This could be addressed by simply using a different background color.

Lastly, I had the screen “spaz” on me once or twice when the ball was in-play. This wasn’t due to me moving around the device as I was sitting level. It didn’t occur often enough to ruin the gaming experience, but it did happen.

All-in-all, the game is good, but not great. Given a choice between “At Bat 2009” and “World Series 2009”, At Bat is clearly the killer app of the two (it is now the #1 sports-based app on iTunes and has sold over 100,000 copies, ranking it #9 for all apps sold for iPhone and iPod Touch). But, if you’re a baseball geek, and are looking for mindless fun, World Series 2009 is a decent addition to your iPhone or iPod Touch application library.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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"At Bat 2009" Now Available for iPhone and iPod Touch PDF Print E-mail
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Mobile Devices
Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 29 March 2009 17:06

At Bat Gameday Audio

Gameday Audio is now
available for At Bat for
iPhone and iPod Touch
(Click to see in larger view)

MLB.com announced today that that MLB.com At Bat 2009 application developed exclusively for iPhone and iPod Touch, is now available from the Apple App Store.

Gameday Audio

This season’s MLB.com At Bat will feature the addition of MLB.com Gameday Audio to the dynamic application. Fans will now be able to listen to live audio broadcasts of every Major League Baseball game from Opening Night on April 5 through the final game of the World Series wherever they go and without any blackout restrictions. Each game will offer fans the choice of listening to the home or away broadcasts.

Live scoreboard

View statistical game data from current, previous and future games.

MLB.com Gameday

Follow a detailed pitch-by-pitch game presentation featuring five interactive screens during each of the three game modes: preview, in-game and post-game.

Video Highlights

Get real-time, high quality video highlights delivered directly to the iPhone or iPod touch quickly after they happen on the field.

MLB.com At Bat for the 2009 baseball season, including the entire postseason, is available for a one-time fee of $9.99 from Apple’s App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore/

Look for a complete review of "At Bat 2009" for iPhone at the beginning of the regular season

Select Read More to see the At Bat television commercial from 2008

Read more...
 
Gameday Audio Coming to "At Bat" for iPhone PDF Print E-mail
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Mobile Devices
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 17 March 2009 23:44

At Bat Gameday Audio

Click to see in larger view

In November of last year, I surmised that MLB Gameday Audio might be coming to MLB.com’s “At Bat” application for iPhone. After all, being able to listen to the games should be something of major interest to fans, and if the techincal issues could be worked out, it would be a hot seller.

In December, I added Gameday Audio for iPhone as one of my Crystal Ball Predictions for 2009.

Now, it will be a reality.

MLB.com is teasing the release Gameday audio for iPhone, which will be available starting April 2nd, just before the beginning of the season.

According to MLBAM, MLB.com At Bat 2009 will be available for a one-time fee of $9.99 for the season. Last year when the device and app store launched on July 11, MLB.com At Bat was $4.99 and did not initially include Gameday (it was released as a free upgrade later in the season). Gameday Audio is a new addition for this year. The price increase is reflective of the mid-season launch of Apple's App Store, and At Bat.

For those wondering whether purchase of Gameday Audio for PC will tie-in with At Bat, at this point, there is not expected to be any tie-in to wired Gameday Audio.

Given the prediction on Gameday Audio last year, maybe I should go out on a limb and predict that MLB Extra Innings will be available for iPhone in 2010.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Sling Media to Introduce SlingMobile for iPhone Today PDF Print E-mail
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Mobile Devices
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 06 January 2009 08:24

SlingMedia Player for iPhone

Sling Media's player for iPhone will continue the
company's push to get your home TV "place shifted"
anywhere, thus getting around some broadcast
blackout restrictions.

In what is sure to raise the eyebrows of sports leagues, including MLB, EchoStar’s (NASDAQ: SATS) Sling Media, Inc, is demonstrating a version of SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone being developed for the iTunes store at this year’s Macworld. Sling Media will deliver a version of SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone to Apple for certification in Q1.

Sling Media introduced the mobile player for Blackberry in December.

Sling Media is also unveiling a prototype of the new SlingPlayer for Mac HD which allows Slingbox PRO-HD users to stream HD content to their Mac desktop or laptop computer. The new SlingPlayer for Mac HD is a web-based version of the SlingPlayer software that will be accessible from Sling.com, Sling Media’s recently launched video entertainment web site. Sling Media can be found in two locations at this year’s Macworld: The Mac Developer Pavilion- South Hall, #1438 (next to Apple) and the Digital Media and Multimedia Pavilion: North Hall #3526-Q.

“SlingPlayer Mobile is ideally suited for the iPhone’s large touch screen display and I know iPhone users are eagerly anticipating the application’s availability,” said Blake Krikorian, co-founder and CEO of Sling Media. “Add to that HD streaming support for Slingbox PRO-HD customers and live TV support on our video entertainment site, Sling.com, and you can see Sling Media is committed to delivering great solutions for Mac users.”

SlingPlayer Mobile “place shifts” your television, including local channels, local sports teams, video on demand, pay per view, etc. Any program that you can watch at home, you can now watch via your iPhone using a standard network connection. In addition, SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone users can also control their home digital video recorder (DVR) to watch recorded shows, pause, rewind, and fast forward live TV, or even queue new recordings while away from home.

With SlingMobile, as with other Sling Media devices, fans can get around blackout restrictions for sporting events, depending on where their home television is. For example, a Marincers fan living outside of their blackout territory could view games within the blacked out area if they have SlingMobile. Currently, MLB.com’s “At Bat” application for iPhone is only showing game highlights, which does not fall under the blackout restrictions. How It is possible that MLB and other sports leagues will react to the continuing emergence of device applications that get around blackout restrictions is an on-going question. Whether that plays itself out in the court system at some point has yet to be determined.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

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