Major League Baseballâ€™s Advanced Media unit has agreed to take over the online streaming of about 3500 live sporting events each year for ESPN.
Beginning next month, MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) has agreed to handle the technology infrastructure and customer support for ESPN. These include NBA games, World Cup soccer, Grand Slam tennis tournaments and college football games.
The deal coincides with ESPNâ€™s plan to change the name of its Internet video hub from ESPN360.com to ESPN3.com.
It also involves a major technology change. ESPN had previously used the services of Move Networks, based in American Fork, UT. However, Moveâ€™s system required that customers download a special video player that uses Microsoftâ€™s Silverlight technology. ESPN wanted to make its site easier to use by changing to a supplier that uses Adobeâ€™s popular Flash software, which operates within the Web browser.
MLBAM, an independent company based in New York, has 400 employees and is jointly owned by the 30 professional baseball clubs and MLB. In addition to the 3000 baseball games it broadcasts online each season, the company has been slowly branching out into other sports, handling events like the online broadcast for CBSâ€™s March Madness college basketball tournament.
The ESPN deal further diversifies the company and raises the possibility that its owners will seek to sell a portion of it to other investors in the future and perhaps change its name to broaden its appeal to other sports organizations.