MLB Advanced Media Renews Deal with Ensequence

MLB Advanced Media, the new-media arm of Major League Baseball, awarded a three-year contract extension to Ensequence, the Portland, Ore.-based interactive-TV company that provides the technology for MLB.TV Mosaic, an Emmy Award-winning online-video application that lets PC users view six live games simultaneously while tracking statistics on their favorite players and teams.

MLBAM and Ensequence have already been working together for three years and first introduced the Mosaic product in 2006. For this season, they developed an upgraded version with better video resolution.

The Mosaic product -- which is available on a subscription basis for $119.95 per season or $19.95 per month -- uses live game feeds from the scoreboard control rooms at the 30 MLB stadiums that are transmitted via a dedicated fiber network back to MLBAM’s broadcast-grade network-operations center located in New York. There they are formatted into the Mosaic six-screen application and turned around for Internet distribution.

The Mosaic product this year offers wide-screen pictures, since about 60% of MLB games are now produced in HD as regional sports networks have stepped up their HD-production efforts, and two levels of video quality: 800 kilobits per second or 1.2 megabits per second, which MLBAM president and CEO Bob Bowman calls “next-def.”

MLB.TV’s basic service -- which costs $89.95 per season or $14.95 per month and allows subscribers to watch one out-of-market game at a time -- is streamed at 400 kbps,

“What we do with TV is not quite TV, but it’s getting closer and closer,” said Bowman, who demonstrated the next-def product blown up on a large-screen HDTV display in a briefing with reporters Wednesday.

Overall, MLB.TV had around 400,000 subscribers last year for the premium Mosaic service. Despite some initial hiccups with the launch of the upgraded Mosaic service at the start of the season, Bowman is expecting 20%-30% growth this year as tech-savvy fans show an increased appetite for multiple feeds and enhanced stats.

More parity among MLB teams, at least at this early stage of the season, also helps to drive Mosaic’s growth.

“The competitive balance [across Major League Baseball] has increased the interest of fans to watch more than just their team,” Bowman said.