Major League Baseball is coming to the PlayStation3, but it has nothing to do with videogames. Sony and MLB Advanced Media have announced a deal that will see live games streamed live over the console effective today, Thursday.
The service is a strategic expansion for both parties. MLB hopes to dramatically grow the number of subscribers to its online service, while Sony continues to grow the PS3 beyond its gaming roots.
The application, downloadable via the PS3’s storefront, lets fans watch any home or away broadcast feed and offers DVR-like functionality, letting viewers skip to any inning.
A scoreboard from around the league is updated with live statistics and any previous game this season is also available to re-watch. All games are being broadcast in high definition.
To view games via their PS3, people will need a subscription to MLB.com, which ranges from $100-$120 per year for annual packages and $20-$25 per month. Non-subscribers who download the app will only be able to access basic functions, such as team schedules.
MLB has been rapidly expanding the number of partners it has for the streaming service. An iPad application has been widely praised and the league also has ties with Internet TV services. This is its first deal with a video game company, however, and the first that puts the streaming feeds onto living room TVs.
The new partnership is not without irony. Technically, it makes the PS3 a competitor to cable companies, including Rogers Communications , which owns the Toronto Blue Jays and Liberty Media , which owns the Atlanta Braves. Perhaps the biggest irony, though, comes via the Seattle Mariners, who are owned by Sony rival Nintendo .
Any lost cable revenues are made up via the subscription fee.
For Sony, beyond the likely revenue split for signups that come via the PS3, the deal gives the company the opportunity to continue its expansion of the system’s footprint.
At launch, Sony trumpeted the PS3’s Blu ray player as loudly as it did the system’s lineup of games. Since then, it has continued to position the system as a broader entertainment platform.
Microsoft is doing much the same with its Xbox 360. That company has generally led the industry in bringing traditional media to the console, being the first to strike a deal with Netflix to stream films and the first to sell HD movies from the system’s dashboard. It also has a deal in place with the Last.fm streaming music service.
Reports emerged yesterday that Microsoft is also in talks with former News Corp. president Peter Chernin about creating a dedicated TV channel for the Xbox 360 that would offer both original programming and reruns. (Microsoft has declined to comment on the reports.)
Sony has made several non-gaming strides of its own with the PS3 recently, though. It has slowly been working on original programming that is only available to PS3 owners. The most notable of these is the recently concluded season of “The Tester,” a reality show made in conjunction with 51 Minds, the company behind “The Surreal Life,” “Flavor of Love” and “Rock of Love”.
But the addition of major league games to the fold, even if they come with a subscription fee, gives the PS3 a win in the latest battle for the ongoing war for the living room.