On August 26, 2002, Major League Baseball streamed its first live MLB.tv video of a game to the web — a tiny, grainy little player that looks laughable in comparison to today’s HD streams you hold in your palm.
This month, 12 years later, the MLB says that it projects that over 51 percent of its monthly live streams will be watched on ‘connected’ and mobile devices in August. It says that this is a first for any live sports video product on the Internet. Note that this is not purely on ‘mobile’ devices — it also includes ‘connected’ devices, which would count the Apple TV, Roku and other boxes where the MLB.tv service is available. Still, most of that is mobile and all of it comes from MLB’s various apps and integration deals that have made it such a success story in online sports streaming.
The original stream had around 30,000 viewers total. In April, MLB Advanced Media said that it had delivered 94 million total video streams in the first week of the 2014 season. A testament both to the incredible scaling work that the MLB has done here — but also to the enormous popularity of mobile devices and the legitimization of Internet streaming.
For a bit of a trip down memory lane — here is the web player as it appeared in 2002 (not to scale, this was postage-stamp-sized):
And here is 2014’s web player:
Just a titch of difference.
In addition to the mobile streaming milestone, the MLB announced earlier this year that it would also host the World Series on MLB.tv — including desktop, set-top and mobile devices.
And baseball isn’t the only sport that’s shown incredible adoption of web-streaming in general. The combined concurrent streams of the World Cup on just WatchESPN and Univision topped out around 2.45M — at once.
Image Credit: Kieth Allison