MLB's grand slam digital plan

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred discusses how the MLB will use technology to keep fans engaged.

MLB Will Bench Baseball Fans Caught Streaming Games

By Lifestyle and Budget Dow Jones Newswires

Baseball fans hoping to use Meerkat or Periscope to stream live video from Opening Day games today might strike out. Major League Baseball will watch for egregious self-streaming activity, said Bob Bowman, president of business and media for the league.

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"Fans know the rules," Mr. Bowman said. "We'll be watching to see how it's used and when."

Games are licensed content and MLB policy prohibits more 120 seconds of video to be shown -- and it can't be live. "Fans don't have the right to emulate the game. Live streaming doesn't change that," Mr. Bowman said.

The Meerkat and Periscope apps allow smart phone users to broadcast live video from their mobile devices. The apps are competing to become the dominant self-broadcasting software on social media.

MLB has talked with the league's 30 teams to remind them of the policy for fans and credentialed media, he said. Teams are on alert. In Los Angeles, Ralph Esquibel, vice president of IT for the Dodgers, said he expects increased adoption of streaming apps and a consequent increase in bandwidth consumption.

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Bill Schlough, CIO for the San Francisco Giants, said he'll be monitoring his network for streaming with Meerkat and Periscope apps, both for bandwidth issues and potential content infringement. He hasn't researched exactly how to curtail the activity but said it likely can be identified and selectively shut down, "just like filtering porn."

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Besides, fans may be too busy using apps to order food delivered to their seats, redeem digital coupons and monitor stats for their fantasy teams. Mr. Bowman said he doesn't anticipate problems.

"They're there to enjoy the game, not to hold up a device for half an inning to shoot video."