Sports Illustrated ranked Bob Bowman 33rd on their list of the 50 most influential people in sports. Bowman, the CEO of MLB Advanced Media, ranked ahead of names such as Mark Emmert, Dana White, Barack Obama, Mark Cuban, and Michael Jordan. And after using the MLB.com At Bat app for the iPad it isn’t hard to figure out why he was on the list. The app’s variety of features make it the best sports app in the Apple App Store, especially when it comes to tracking live games.
There are a very small number of apps that will let you watch live streaming sports on your iPad or iPhone so having the ability to watch live baseball on a mobile device is in itself great. However, this app sets the standard for what the viewing experience on all other apps that stream live sports should be like. Here are some screen shots that I feel set the app apart from other apps.
First, here is the basic view you get when you are watching a baseball game on the app. As you can see you get a great widescreen shot and when combined with the iPad’s retina display delivers a great picture:
If you choose, simply by swiping at the top of the screen and the botom of the screen you can fill the top and bottom of the wide screen with lots of great information and tools that enhance the viewing experience. As you can see at the top you have the score of the game you are watching and the scores of the rest of the games around the league. At the bottom you get the hitter pitcher matchup, the count of the current at bat, the players on deck and in the hole, and a map of the diamond. I find the hitter pitcher matchup especially helpful because there are times when I look away when an at bat begins or forget who the pitcher is. The map of the diamond in the lower lefthand corner is a feature that I feel is innovative. Unlike other ones that sports networks use on TV it tells you who the base runners on each base are.
Here is where it starts to get especially interesting. When you swipe the left side of the screen you get a panel that has a variety of features that give you information about the game. For instance, in the photo below I have a lineup card like a manager would have, letting the viewer know which players are available to be used in the game. This would be especially helpful if your team was facing a lefty batter and you wanted to see which lefty pitchers were available in the bullpen or if you wanted to see which pinch hitters were available late in a game.
Here you can see another feature that be viewed on the right panel is your standard box score. On the left side is a map of the strike zone with each pitch represented by a dot with a number in the middle representing the number of the pitch in the at bat, a green dot representing a ball and a red one representing a strike. Above the map is the number of the latest pitch in the at bat along with the speed, pitch type, and the result.
It gets cooler though. When you click on the dot a new right panel pops up with a map of the path that the ball took to the plate and the break on the ball. Each line is a different color, each color representing a different pitch. The line lets you know the break of the ball. This is the coolest feature of MLB.com At Bat and the most innovative. I find it fascinating that in real time the break that a ball took on a pitch that occurred hundreds of miles away can be transmitted to my mobile device. This also is great for the fan experience and can help create a more intelligent fan. Fans using the app can see what pitch a pitcher on their favorite team uses, what situations he throws it in, the velocity of a pitcher’s fastball, and much more.
And here is another one of the options that you can have on the left panel, a map of the ballpark with the dimensions and the player that is at bat, any that are on base, and the defensive lineup. I feel like this is a neat feature because lets say you forget who the left fielder is, you can just swipe the right side of the screen and look at the map. That is a much easier than having to look at the box score and see who pinch hit earlier or was involved in a double switch.
Like the map of the strike zone the map of the ballpark is also interactive. When you click on a players name relevant statistics pop up on an information card of that player. You get the results of his previous at bats in the game you are watching, his fielding stats from todays game, and his splits. The splits are the reason I used the word relevant to describe the information on the players card. The splits on the card provide the player’s statistics in the situation that the player is currently in. As you can see below Ryan Braun was facing Ronald Bellisario at Dodger Stadium with nobody on base. The viewer now can see how the batter has fared in each one of those situations in previous situations. You get rid of the player card simply by swiping the right side of the screen and the map of the ballpark returns.
In order to be able to watch your favorite team daily on the app you need to suscribe to MLB TV which is 130 dollars. It seems pricey however you can watch all 30 team’s games as well, choose the home or away feed, and watch on not just your mobile devices but also on a multiple set top boxes, gaming systems, and smart TVs. However, even if you are not an MLB TV subscriber the app is still worth downloading. Each night there is a free game available so you can experience these great features for free. Also for non MLB TV subscribers are the features outside of watching the game live.