Along with the new Web-based media player (version 5.0) that was introduced this week by Major League Baseball Advanced Media, there is another new reason to sign up now to watch live out-of-market games. The cost of a yearly subscription was lowered on Friday to $99.99 for MLB.TV Premium and $79.99 for MLB.TV.
This is the final weekend of May, and the price drop for MLB.TV reflects the fact that nearly a third of the regular season is in the books. The new HD media player has an in-page layout, so it all happens in your browser with no need for an additional download, and the new game scoreboard will make it easier to track games.
This is another of those MLB.TV moments that make you realize how far we have come since the first live video broadcast stream by a major sports league in 2002. Simplified user controls add to the fun of following those and other games, improving the user experience. A clickable linescore lets you jump between innings or to single-game highlights. The multi-view design provides an easy way to watch multiple games at once -- a key asset for Fantasy owners. You can watch highlights in a secondary picture-in-picture window.
"It's a savior," said former All-Star right-hander Carl Pavano, now a busy father of three who uses his MLB.TV Premium subscription on multiple devices in South Florida to prepare in his role as a Marlins pregame and postgame analyst on Fox Sports South. "This really frees up more time. If you want to be active, go to a park in our neighborhood, T-ball games, you try not to take your attention from those, but in my line of work and with my history in baseball, it's important to me. It's nice having that connection wherever you go."
From its now technologically archaic beginnings -- a 300K live stream to 30,000 viewers in August 2002 -- MLB.TV has charted a trail of "firsts" along the path to its place as the most widely distributed sports streaming service, covering nearly 30,000 games to millions of subscribers in that timespan. Among those subsequent mileposts were:
First to stream its entire season (2003); first to wire its venues for TV-quality streaming (2005); first to use adaptive bit rate streaming (2008); first to stream live 720p HD video (2009); first to stream live games/subscription product to iPhone (2009); first live video on connected devices (2009); first to stream live games/subscription product to iPad (2010); first to stream live video to a gaming console (2010); first live games embedded on Facebook & Twitter (2011); first with live audio overlay technology (U.S. Patent Nos. 8,640,181 and 8,832,768), delivering the capability to switch the live audio feed on MLB.TV broadcasts from the TV to radio announcers without disrupting the live video stream (2012); and first to make a live video stream embeddable to any site on the Internet (2013).
"MLB.TV is brilliant, especially for me here in the UK, where we have limited games on our TV," said Chris Bailey, a Giants fan and native Brit in Leicester, England, who is subscribing to MLB.TV for a third consecutive year. "I play Fantasy baseball and it is great for keeping up with your teams and how you are doing. I also love the in-game highlights that flash up, so if there are runs in another game, you can watch during innings of the game you are watching."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.