02/21/12 6:55 PM EST
MLB.TV ready to play ball for 10th season
Subscription to watch live games comes with free At Bat app
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
"I will be signing up for MLB.TV for the third season in a row, because it gives me unparalleled coverage of my beloved Minnesota Twins," said Ilstrup, who grew up near the Metrodome and is now general manager of HotelRED in Brewers country in Madison, Wis. "Living only four hours from my hometown of Minneapolis, I have little to no access to live game coverage or extended highlights. With MLB.TV, I can watch every game when I want and on whatever platform I have available.
"I use a Macbook and iPhone for watching. My wife thinks I'm crazy when I have the multigame feature on the laptop and another game playing on the iPhone, but that's the only true way to see all the action. ... MLB.TV allows me to watch every game, no matter the score."
Subscriptions are $124.99 yearly or $24.99 monthly for MLB.TV Premium, and $109.99 yearly or $19.99 monthly for basic MLB.TV. The packages will let you watch more than 150 Spring Training games, without blackouts, plus every out-of-market regular-season game live or on-demand, generally in HD quality.
This will mark the 10th-anniversary season of MLB.TV, a technology that broke ground when MLB became the first sports league to stream live video broadcasts of its regular schedule, starting with a Rangers-Yankees pilot stream in August 2002. The technology has improved in numerous ways every year in terms of quality and availability, and here are a couple of important new reasons to go with MLB.TV Premium in 2012:
MLB.com At Bat 12, the top-ranked sports app in the Apple App Store and recent inductee into the Macworld App Hall of Fame, will be included with your subscription at no additional cost. At Bat is due to launch on Wednesday, Feb. 29. At that time, download the app and then your MLB.TV subscription will be authenticated, so you can enjoy complete mobile portability on your iPad, iPhone, iTouch and most Android phones and tablets.
MLB Advanced Media continues to listen to fans' needs regarding usage habits, whether watching live on your favorite mobile, online or connected device. Now you will be able to add another major platform to the list: Xbox 360. This feature will be coming when games begin, and at that time, you will simply log in with your MLB.TV username and password to access live and on-demand baseball, which also requires an Xbox LIVE Gold subscription. A real game is even better than a video game.
Who better to trumpet the virtues of MLB.TV than Dan Nesbitt, a 25-year-old Tigers fan transplanted in Pittsburgh. He performs there with the Steel City Brass, musicians who play in symphonies worldwide, and thanks to a birthday present from his wife, live games never will be far away from him in 2012.
"I've used MLB.TV for the past three or four years, in conjunction with the MLB.com At Bat App for iOS, and it's really a fantastic combination," Nesbitt said in an email to MLB.com. "The multiplatform capabilities of MLB.TV allow me to jump from watching on a PS3 to my iPad or iPhone, and that's one of the best features. I'm a professional musician, and I've been able to follow a big game from a rehearsal or orchestra pit with the iPhone.
"I'm a diehard Tigers fan, and since moving out of state several years ago, MLB.TV has allowed me to keep up with the games. I travel quite a bit, all over the country, and with my mobile devices, I'm able to access that account anywhere, which is absolutely the most valuable thing about MLB.TV, and worth every penny of the subscription."
Jon Campbell is an A's (and Tigers) fan in Sacramento, Calif., and he is ready for his third season of MLB.TV. He has a 3 a.m. PT watch party planned at his house for March 28, because that is the first of two games Oakland plays against Seattle to officially christen the regular season at Tokyo."That is made possible because of my MLB.TV package," Campbell said. "I originally signed up because I want to watch baseball without the giant, cumbersome cable bills that usually come with the bundled packages traditional cable and satellite companies force you to subscribe to to get the programming you actually want. ... I enjoy the great coverage during both the regular season and the postseason. With MLB.TV I can watch games on the go on my laptop, listen to the great local radio coverage of various Major League teams throughout the country, or watch the games on my big-screen television through my Apple TV." Campbell added that when the regular season gets under way, "I will watch an average of three games per day, making the cost of MLB.TV pennies per hours entertained." MLB.TV Premium lets you choose between home or away broadcasts. DVR Controls allow you to pause and rewind live games. Multi-game View lets you watch two games at once in picture-in-picture mode or split screen. With Quad View, watch up to four games or highlights at once. Both packages give you in-game highlights and stats update automatically in the media player. Full-game archives and condensed games are available. You'll have access to Gameday Audio and the Pitch by Pitch App, which includes PITCHf/x and batter/pitcher tendencies. Managing a fantasy roster is easier because you can watch live at-bat look-ins of your players. Twitter is incorporated, so watching live games is always a social event as well. Use the official team hashtags when you tweet, and be sure to follow @MLBTV for ongoing updates. If you want to watch Minor League prospects throughout the season, then consider bundling an MiLB.TV subscription with your MLB.TV signup. MiLB.TV is normally $39.95 yearly, but it costs just $20 if you bundle it with an MLB.TV subscription. The monthly MiLB.TV bundle price will be $5 (available in March), half the normal monthly cost. You'll get access to more than 2,500 additional baseball games, including nearly every Triple-A game, live online. MiLB.TV will be available when the Minors get under way on April 5. For fans who want only Gameday Audio, signups are under way for a yearly cost of $19.99. You will be able to listen to 150 Spring Training games live online, plus every regular-season and postseason game, all with no blackout restrictions. You can choose from home, away or alternate feeds (where available), and listen to full-game archives. Tony Marks is public relations manager for the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, and he became an MLB.TV subscriber for the first time in 2011. You can thank the Rangers' World Series runs for that. "It wasn't enough to root for them from another state. I didn't want to miss a game. I wanted to follow them and support just like a local," Marks said. "I played baseball as a kid, listened to it on the radio when I studied in college, and caught as many games on TV as I could. Streaming stats doesn't do it for me. I love to hear the game. As my home and career life got busier, it became harder for me to watch in real time. With MLB.TV, my wife and I don't fight over the TV when a game's on, and I can catch a game even if it's hours -- or days -- later." Now a tradition returns: that first chance for millions of fans to sign up for MLB.TV, watching any of the on-demand 2011 games as a refresher and then just waiting for those first pitches from Florida and Arizona to get it all started again. "What makes signing up again this season so special is that I now have a 6-week-old son," Marks said in his email. "And Saturdays are Daddy-days. So I'm looking forward to cuddling up with him as we check in on how the Rangers are doing each week. I promise to watch other games as well in case he decides he prefers another team -- just not the Yankees. A dad's got to draw the line somewhere."