Just got back from the MLB.com Fan Upfront at Chelsea Market in NYC. It was a fantastic event that showcased all of the MLB.com products in 2012.
Jack Morris, Frank Thomas, Mark McLemore and Jeff Nelson were all in attendance, and were available to speak with us and take pictures. Frank in particular was gracious and forthcoming, discussing his playing days and sharing stories openly.
MLB had six stations set up - mobile products, Apple TV/Roku, PlayStation, Social Media, XBox, and MLB.tv. The MLB.com product and technical teams were on hand at the stations, interacting with the invitees and discussing the new products. Mobile products:
MLB At Bat 12 for iOS will be released tomorrow, and for those with an MLB.tv subscription (premium only, I believe), the app will be free. For those purchasing the app without an MLB.tv subscription, there are two purchase options - $14.99 for the year, or $2.99 per month. Also, there will be only one app this year for all iOS devices, previously the iPhone and iPad apps were separate purchases. At first glance, there weren't too many other changes with the functionality of the app except for minor UI cleanups. I found out that the iOS development team is lean - only four developers and a total staff of eight people create and maintain the app from conception through deployment. Fairly impressive for an app that has so many different functions.
I briefly saw the Android and Windows Mobile apps, which seemed to be similar to iOS. For the one or two people that still use Palm products, there will be no Palm app this year.
One of the engineers on hand told me that MLB will be releasing a new app (separate from MLB At Bat), which will provide an enhanced in-game experience for fans at each MLB park. The app will have interactive maps for each park that are downloadable and available offline for use at the park - food options, restrooms, etc are all documented graphically. So far they have 27 of the maps completed with a target release scheduled for the end of spring training.Apple TV/Roku:
I only spent a minute at the station, nothing too remarkable to report aside from minor year over year UI improvementsPlayStation:
I don't own a PS3, but the app looks very smooth and easy to use. The quality of the video feed looked the best on PS3 compared to the other set top products (Apple TV, Roku, XBox).Social Media:
Not a whole lot to report here aside from the standard Facebook/Twitter/Pintrest pages. This team was by far the most outgoing and friendly during the event. They were actively recruiting people for their part time in-park social media reporting positions. Applications are available on the MLB.com jobs page if you are interested, and all apps will be personally reviewed by the social media team (rather than HR).XBox/Kinect:
The first launch of the XBox MLB.tv app should happen "in a few weeks" per the Microsoft and MLB.com reps at the station. I was able to use it with ease. The best part - Kinect will be enabled for both voice and motion, so no controls will be necessary, even for scrolling through games. Not all of the MLB.tv functionality is there, but the teams will be adding to it throughout the year. Apparently the most requested enhancement during the beta period has been the park noise only feature, which should be available over the summer.MLB.tv:
The most notable improvement was the integration with CBS fantasy baseball.
To answer the question above about the max number of IP addresses - they generally allow three IP addresses to access one account simultaneously. The person I spoke with said the policy was currently under review. EDIT - my friend who attended with me said he heard fron another MLB.com employee that four are allowed concurrently.
Also, regarding the lag issue, the engineers told me that they have to take the feeds from the networks rather than the ballparks at the moment. Thus they have to wait for the network stream, encode it, and broadcast it over the net. Taking the feeds from the ballparks directly is on the product development list, but is at least a year or two away.
For parting swag, MLB gave us a mini backpack. In the backpack were an MLB.com hat, an MLB.com t-shirt, a ball containing autographs four of the major leaguers in attendance, and a coupon for a month free of Xbox Live Gold. I also got an iPhone 4 case etched with the traditional MLB logo, courtesy of Coveroo.
Also, the food was fantastic - lots of diverse ballpark-like foods, plus some upscale appetizers like Colorado lamb chops.
Overall, the event was well done and I would definitely attend it next year.
Edited by FenwayFrenzy, 28 February 2012 - 11:46 PM.