Boys of Summer Go Mobile

If you have a smartphone or tablet, chances are good that there’s a version of the MLB At Bat 12 app available for your device. And it appears that baseball fans are discovering the free program in unprecedented numbers. The free At Bat Lite version gives you scores, video highlights, news reports, and more. The full-featured version costs $15 for the whole season, and delivers pitch-by-pitch animation of live games, radio coverage, and more.

Is it a popular feature? According to an MLB press release, just eight days into the season the app had been downloaded more than 3 million times. And the service had already delivered a daily average of more than 800,000 live audio and video streams (not to mention all the video clips). On Wednesday, April 11, fans viewed more than a million live streams.

Who needs to worry about lousy television or radio reception? If you’re within the reach of WiFi, you can get a digital-clear audio or video stream, and the price of $15 for the whole season is likely viewed as a bargain by many fans. This app is probably especially valuable for fans who are not within reach of their home team’s broadcast footprint for a significant part of the season.

1 million streams in a day may not be a huge number by some measures, but consider this; the average television audience for the 2011 World Series was just 16.6 million. That means that on a random mid-week day early in the season, the number of audio and video streams on this app was equal to 6% of the total television audience for the World Series. I don’t see how you can conclude anything except that consumers are accepting mobile digital devices as a viable alternative to traditional broadcast radio and television. Whether its movies, television episodes, music, or live sports, we are turning to streaming sources on the Internet in growing numbers.