Posted by: nickgerlich | April 7, 2008

Take me Out To The Internet

The Boys of Summer are back. There’s nothing like the look of a perfectly manicured baseball diamond, the grass green, the infield groomed to perfection. The fans roaring in the stands. And the smack of ash-on-cowhide.

It brings back many memories…memories of going to see the Sox and Cubs play in Chicago with my Dad and younger brother. Of eating hotdogs in the stands, hoping someone would hit a home run our way…but not while we were eating. And of hearing Haray Caray take a hundred-year-old song about a girl and turn it into the official 7th-inning-stretch anthem.

Yep, you can’t beat fun at the old ballpark.

MLBThe only problem is, if you want to call it that, is that increasingly the ballpark is relocating to our computer. Major League Baseball, for all its tradition and resistance to change, is leading the pack among professional sports organizations with its online video content. So successful is the MLB’s online programming that the sport collectively is close to passing the NFL in total revenue (the online content alone raked in $450 million in 2007).

Baseball is an interesting sport. With 162 games per team in a regulation season, and 30 teams, there are 2430 games each year. No other professional sport can come close to matching this. By comparison, football teams only play 16 regular season games each year. Apples and oranges, perhaps, but those represent 2430 products to sell.

So MLB has made it possible for fans to watch every game online (except local-market games) for about $90 each year, less than what a similar package costs on cable or satellite.

Which raises an obvious question: Why would you want to watch online when you could watch on TV for a little more? Simple: Baseball still has quite a few afternoon games, at times when most folks are at work. Office cube prisoners can thus watch from work (being savvy enough to know all proper keyboard shortcuts to make it go away in a hurry if you have to).

Kudos to Baseball for hitting a homerun here. The sport has endured doping scandals for several years now, yet fans are still plugged into the sport. And if you can’t sneak out of the office to catch an afternoon game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, soaking up sun, beer, and good times, at least you can watch the game (and the lucky fans) on the internet.

Dr “Let’s Play Two!” Gerlich

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