By Anick Jesdanun, AP
NEW YORK–Major League Baseball is debuting a new website and apps — for ice hockey.
Under a deal reached last summer, baseball’s digital business has taken over streaming and app development for the National Hockey League.
On Monday, the NHL will start offering a cheaper subscription package, NHL Premium, with six-minute recaps and live video for the final five minutes of most games, plus any overtime and shootouts. Premium will cost $3 a month, compared with $25 for full games.
In both cases, hometown games will typically be unavailable to preserve television rights.
The NHL is also boosting video quality to 60 frames per second, double the standard 30 frames, though you’ll need a streaming TV device, a game console, an iPad or one of the larger, Plus models of the iPhone. Officials say that 60 frames will be ideal for fast-moving action such as hockey, as it will make puck movement look smoother. Bob Bowman, baseball’s president of business and media, says he plans to bring that to baseball, too.
Among other features:
— Beyond choosing a team or two as favorites, you’ll be able to “follow” rival teams. Those teams will show up higher on league scoreboards, but you won’t clutter the screen with as much news about those teams as you would for favorites.
— Composite views will mix the main action with alternative angles, such as cameras looking straight down on each goalie. Gone will be the ability to choose alternative angles individually, as video didn’t always sync correctly. Officials are hoping to address that by offering the composite view with pre-selected angles as a single stream.
Although baseball is now running hockey’s digital services, you won’t get the type of real-time tracking available for baseball. For instance, one graphical feature for baseball shows where and how fast each pitch lands. There’s nothing comparable yet with hockey.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league has been exploring various puck- and player-tracking technologies, but hockey is harder to track “than baseball or football because it’s non-stop action and an incredible speed, particularly with the puck.”
Under the partnership, MLB Advanced Media bought streaming rights for out-of-market games from the NHL. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. It isn’t MLB’s first excursion beyond baseball. Since April, MLB has been providing streaming services for HBO Now, the digital subscription service that doesn’t require a traditional cable or satellite TV subscription.