Baseball playoffs start on Wednesday and, if you’re like me, they can’t come soon enough. Broadcast partner FOX will have complete exclusivity for live events, and you won’t find live broadcasts online (at least not legally). But viewing options on the web continue to increase. ###
Through a deal with Joost
, postseason games and highlights will be available on demand to viewers outside of the U.S. and Japan.
The Joost partnership is an interesting one for MLB, which has been slowly expanding its syndication partnerships and opening up content to a greater number of sources. Earlier this season, MLB began offering their Daily Rewind
show on iTunes
, and the league has existing syndication deals with online and mobile partners including Akimbo and MediaFLO.
Reaction to the Joost deal has been quick and harsh in most circles of the press. WIRED calls the restrictions “absurd,”
but everything offered by Joost will be offered in the US by MLB.com
. Baseball is looking to grow its audience, an MLB knows where fans in the U.S. are watching. Cannibalizing the viewership on their site by offering content on Joost would just not make sense.
Outside the U.S. the audience is much more fragmented with Soccer and Cricket appealing to larger international audiences. Joost offers an avenue to push baseball into the world of users who aren’t die-hard enough to seek out MLB content on their own. MLB’s Kenny Gersh indicated reaching new fans is exactly the goal:
“Our partnership with Joost allows us to continue to reach baseball’s increasingly growing global fan base by providing them with free on-demand broadcasts of every game from the most dramatic and emotionally-charged month on the baseball calendar.”
Online video offers an inexpensive way for content producers to go global and engage an international audience. Joost, which just released beta version 1.0, promises a quality user experience and a way to reach an audience beyond MLB’s core fanbase here and in Japan.
TBS and FOX ponied up major dollars to secure exclusive U.S. rights to broadcast the games in primetime. The model for international expansion of online content delivery is still being worked out.
Applications like Joost, built for worldwide distribution, offer a universal system for delivery of sports content to new audiences. Perhaps someday soon, Americans will be watching cricket online. Then again, probably not.
Ben Homer is a contributing writer from Online Video Watch.