MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) is getting ready to bid for sports rights, its CEO, Bob Bowman, revealed during an appearance at Recode’s Code Media conference Thursday. These efforts could lead to a global online sports network, Bowman said.
Bowman did caution that the goal wasn’t to replace traditional sportscasters. “Are we gonna be ESPN? No.” That’s not just because of tied-up rights, but also the fact that Internet infrastructure isn’t ready to serve up huge amounts of live video on a regular basis.
Bowman said that MLB Advanced Media had served 2 million concurrent users at the most in the past. Streaming simultaneously to 10 million users may be possible, but currently not sustainable and not economically viable, he argued. “Eventually we will get there,” Bowman said.
MLB Advanced Media is Major League Baseball’s technical infrastructure arm. In addition to the league’s own matches, MLBAM also streams video for NHL, PGA, March Madness, HBO Now and other clients.
MLB is now looking to spin out the unit into a separate entity, and Bowman said that it has been talking to a number of potential investors about taking equity in MLBAM. Bowman said that MLBAM currently generates revenue of about $1.2 billion-$1.3 billion per year, with the majority still coming from baseball. Eventually, that non-baseball side could grow to become a much bigger part of its business, he forecasted.