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Major League Baseball Advanced Media Case Study

Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2010 (Revised February 2011)

Major League Baseball Advanced Media: America’s Pastime Goes Digital

by Anita Elberse and Brett Laffel


In January 2010, Bob Bowman, chief executive officer of Major League Baseball Advanced Media -- MLB's digital arm -- is facing a number of decisions related to its 'app' for Apple's new iPad. What are the best name, price, and set of features for MLBAM's iPad app? The case describes what is often seen as one of the most successful paid-content businesses in sports and media. Provides in-depth information on MLBAM's four main sources of revenues, and relates those to the league's overall revenues. Describes the company's online and mobile offerings in considerable detail, and outlines the choices facing MLB's offering for Apple's iPad device, enabling a rich discussion of viable marketing strategies.

Keywords: Business Model; Marketing Strategy; Distribution Channels; Mobile Technology; Online Technology; Sports Industry;

Automation. The old solution was highly manually and therefore slow and expensive. The new form system needed to reduce the need for custom code and backend system maintenance by 80% or more.  

CMS Integration. The new form system had to be compatible and integrated into the CMS MLBAM used for its other web services. 

Dynamic Scalability. The old platform was self-hosted and built on antiquated technologies such as Applets. The new product needed to fix those problems by moving to a cloud-based host while also accounting for large spikes in use during contests, sweepstakes or bursts of ticket transactions. The new tool had to dynamically handle peaks in traffic and reduce scale when needed to minimize cost. 

UX/UI. Automating form creation would put more responsibility of form creation with the club marketing departments. Instead of engineers doing the work marketing departments would take on a larger role. This meant that a user friendly UI needed to be developed which then, of course, had to connect fields and other data with the existing backend. 

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