It’ll still be one, two, three strikes, you’re out at the old ball game, but many other parts of baseball will look new this year.
While Major League Baseball rules changes(Opens in a new window) intended to speed up the game—a pitch timer, restrictions on outfield shifts, and bigger bases—have gotten most of the attention, MLB is also updating the fan experience.
The MLB mobile app(Opens in a new window) saw some of the biggest changes in an update released earlier this month. It now lets you follow players as well as teams, should you want to track the progress of a generational talent or see how players your team traded away last year are doing (hello, fellow Washington Nationals fans). If you’d rather see how 2025’s possible starting lineup is faring, you’ll also be able to watch minor league games live in the app.
The Gameday live visualization of games that MLB debuted in 2008 and has been tweaking since should now deliver “near real-time updates,” MLB chief operations and strategy officer Chris Marinak said during a Tuesday presentation—including live video highlights of an at-bat.
MLB is also rolling out a 3D version of Gameday. Coming first to MLB’s website for the free game of the day, then its iOS and Android apps, it will render a game using real-time tracking data and let you watch a play from any angle, as if were a video game.
Finally, iPhone users will be able to get score updates on their lock screens and, if they have an iPhone 14, in the Dynamic Island.
Other upgrades will affect what people see on larger screens. All the new camera-tracking systems in ballparks will generate new statistics about each at-bat, including the swing speed and which part of the bat hit the ball.
People watching out-of-market games on MLB.tv on larger screens will be able to overlay stats on their video feed in a new display option. That paid video service is once again free to T-Mobile subscribers, but the regional blackouts(Opens in a new window) it enforces as part of MLB’s existing carriage deals limit its appeal.
Marinak acknowledged that as a lingering issue. But he implied that recent upheavals in the game-streaming business might open up space for MLB.tv to do something about it(Opens in a new window). For example, Bally Sports regional sports networks owner Diamond Sports filed for bankruptcy this month and may lose its contracts(Opens in a new window) with MLB franchises, while Warner Bros. Discovery reportedly wants to unload its three AT&T SportsNet “RSNs”(Opens in a new window) after this season.
“We think MLB.tv is a huge strategic asset for baseball,” Marinak hinted.
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Finally, MLB aims to make its Ballpark app as central to the in-person experience as overpaying for beer. That starts with having more fans get tickets in the app and have them scanned at the gate, which Marinak said happened 28.4 million times last year. That’s a huge increase from the 10.4 million app ticket scans in 2019, but with total MLB attendance of 64.6 million last year(Opens in a new window), there’s much more room to grow.
This year, tickets in the app will have an animated bar code, which means that—as in Ticketmaster’s system—screenshots of bar codes won’t work anymore. At the same time, MLB is enhancing ticket-resale options to include what Marinak called “a one-touch sell on SeatGeek.”
The ongoing demise of paper tickets does raise the question of how fans are supposed to commemorate a game, which came up when one reporter asked about MLB’s past experiments with NFTs(Opens in a new window).
“The web3 market has changed a lot in the last year,” Marinak said in a fit of understatement. But he said MLB still sees possibilities in doing commemorative ticketing with NFTs: “I think there are use cases there that really do work.”
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