Major League Baseball’s online and interactive media (ex. online video) operations are run by MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), a company that started up in 2000 with funds from baseball’s owners. And MLBAM runs things quite well – they’re widely known to be a “money machine” for those owners whose investments got it going, and their video platform is so good that they partnered with the March Madness On Demand service and ESPN3 to get those projects off the ground.
Now, MLBAM’s capabilities are being harnessed to help get a bit different kind of a project off the ground. Oh, it’s still online, still streaming video, but it’s not sports-related…it’s Glenn Beck’s new venture. Beck, of course, will end his Fox News program later this year, and in its place, he’ll be doing a subscription-based online show. That’s where MLBAM, which will provide the video platform, comes in.
It seems strange, a segment of an organization with such broad, far-reaching appeal as Major League baseball partnering with as controversial a figure as Beck. But it’s important to note, as Biz of Baseball’s Maury Brown did, that “it’s all about the streaming video platform” – i.e. this does not signify some actual partnership between Beck and Major League Baseball where you’ll go to MLB.com and be greeted with a voice urging you to buy gold.
But no matter how one looks at it, a Major League Baseball entity is aligning its interests with Glenn Beck. That may not interfere with the day-to-day fan experience (and, as Brown also notes, does not mean MLB is a conservative paradise) and ultimately marks nothing more than an entertainment vehicle is joining forces with an entertainer.
But it’s still Glenn Beck – a guy we can confidently say a significant portion of MLB’s fanbase has no love for. MLBAM must be pretty sure the Beck idea’s going to attract visitors like gangbusters…anything less, and the weird-at-first-glance association with such a polarizing figure isn’t worth it.