When Apple introduced multitasking in iOS 9, MLB was one of the new feature’s early adopters in its MLB.com At Bat application for iPad. Today, the organization is releasing some new numbers on what impact the introduction of split-screen viewing and picture-in-picture has on engagement and video viewing minutes in its application.
In short? The news is good. Very, very good indeed.
The At Bat app introduced multitasking in a February 2016 update, along with picture-in-picture streaming for live video and highlights. What that means is that fans can now watch MLB.TV video outside the application.
These features, of course, only work on select iPads.
There are two different terms Apple used for its new multitasking mode, Split View and Slide Over. The former lets you run two apps at the same time, side-by-side, on the same screen. The latter lets you open a second app without leaving your current app. Split View is available on iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 4. Slide Over is available on iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 2 or later.
Meanwhile, picture-in-picture mode scales down the video screen to a corner of your display. This is available on iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 2 or later.
Despite the fact that multitasking is not something every iPad or other iOS user can take advantage of within the At Bat application, the organization tells TechCrunch that its introduction is already having a “profound impact” on the consumption of live video on iPad.
To support these claims, the MLB gathered usage metrics from the first two weeks of the season — to clarify for non-baseball fans, the MLB season is not quite two weeks old at this point (Opening Day was April 3rd).
During these first two weeks, MLB fans spent 20 percent more minutes per day, on average, watching live video on iPad compared with the 2015 season, when multitasking was not available. (MLB says that any form of multitasking behavior was counted here, not just spilt-screen viewing.)
In addition, fans who were using the new multitasking features and watching live video of MLB games in the At Bat application were spending 162 minutes per day on average consuming MLB.TV on iPad. That’s an increase of 86 percent from the 2015 season.
Plus, while 162 minutes per day was the average for those using multitasking while watching video, 101 minutes per day was the average without using the feature, so far this year. (It’s also important to point out that this data only represents users on iPad with multitasking capabilities — MLB isn’t including those who don’t have access to the behavior here.)
The impact for MLB here could be notable, as the company’s app was already the most consumed sports apps in terms of total minutes prior to the addition of multitasking. During the 2015 regular season (April through September 2015), At Bat users consumed 6.9 billion minutes compared with 6.1 billion for ESPN, 3.4 billion for Team Stream, 2.2 billion for Yahoo Fantasy Sports and 1.8 billion for WatchESPN, according to data from comScore.
With the addition of multitasking, MLB could significantly increase the time spent in its application. That’s something that matters more these days to app developers and advertisers alike, as App Store chart rankings and download numbers have lost some value as the industry grows more concerned with whether or not apps are actually being used, and how often, after their initial installation.