Mobile strategy is baseball’s key to keeping fans engaged
Baseball season is back in full swing. After the celebration and fanfare of Opening Day games across the country, both teams and fans are now settling in for the long haul of 162 regular-season games spread out over a six-month period. This is heaven for baseball purists and dedicated fans, but there are problems, too: Baseball’s declining TV viewership has some wondering whether the game can provide enough to modern sports fans.
Mobile strategy is being looked at as a partial solution to that problem. Major League Baseball is evolving in many ways, including implementing rule changes to speed up the pace of play. Yet technology has plenty to contribute to these efforts as well. Like other sports leagues, MLB is spearheading a range of mobile products and projects aimed to increase fan engagement while building better experiences for baseball fans everywhere.
Improved mobile streaming
Live-streaming of games is a huge part of MLB’s success. Even though TV viewership is on the decline, the company is making a killing through its digital video subscription services. Baseball fans can choose to gain digital broadcast access to every MLB game throughout the season, or they can subscribe to a single team’s games to follow their favorite throughout the year.
MLB.tv aims to be the most comprehensive sports streaming service out there. The streaming service currently supports more than 400 different devices spanning a range of operating systems. In addition to its subscription service, MLB.tv also offers a free daily game that any viewer can watch without having to pay a subscription. This service is helping MLB connect teams to fans outside of its primary market while also enabling a baseball game viewing literally anywhere a phone data signal is received.
A deeper social experience
Every sports league understands the significance of social media engagement. That’s why the NFL has sought out landmark partnerships with Twitter: In the best-case scenario, social media could become its own broadcasting platform.
In the meantime, social experiences are very effective at creating unique types of content and engagement that go beyond the game broadcast itself. Behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, locker room banter, insider Q&As and other content are ideal for sharing on a social platform.
In addition, social engagement with fans is a well-known strategy for deepening their relationship with teams. Tech-savvy clubs are leaning into this trend. As AdWeek reported, the San Francisco Giants are leading by example with the social media cafe they installed in their home ballpark. Dubbed the @Cafe, this social hub shares user-generated social content on big-screen displays during the game, and even offers a VR experience for a more immersive way to engage. One Giants executive noted that the @Cafe has been pivotal in helping the team connect with casual fans, sparking engagement among consumers who might otherwise pay little attention to the team.
Better gaming and fantasy baseball options
Mobile gaming is a potentially lucrative revenue stream for sports leagues, and the leading brands have already taken advantage. The NBA, NFL and other major leagues have already licensed multiple mobile video franchises, and MLB is no exception. Its biggest mobile gaming is “RBI Baseball 17,” but a range of mobile games, including “Home Run Derby,” “Franchise MVP” and “Line Drive” are available for download, engaging gaming fans of all ages and creating immersive experiences separate from the actual baseball games themselves.
Through this multipronged approach to mobile strategy, MLB is betting that its on-field product can remain popular with fans for years to come.