Published February 29, 2012
One app purchase of MLB At Bat will cover both tablets and smartphones
MLBAM today is releasing the '12 versions of its MLB.com At Bat mobile application, and this year's version arrives with several significant changes, most notably a shift to a universal structure in which one app purchase will cover both tablets and smartphones. In prior years, MLBAM had sold tablet and smartphone versions of MLB.com At Bat separately, believing the distinct experience on each platform warranted its own fee. But after finding more consumer overlap than expected between the MLB.com At Bat tablet and smartphone app purchases, and seeing how many other apps were moving to a universal structure, MLBAM felt the shift was due. "In the beginning, the use cases were so different, but we've now made a change and it's what we should be doing," said MLBAM President & CEO Bob Bowman. MLB.com At Bat also arrives this year with a far different pricing structure. As previously announced, purchasers of a premium-level MLB.TV subscription will get the app for free. Beyond that, the app again carries a $14.99 fee, this time good for both tablets and smartphones. But the product in the various app stores is actually a "shell app." Fans will download a lightweight, free version of the product, and then have the option to upgrade within the app to the full, fee-based experience on either a season-long basis, or for the first time, on a monthly basis for $2.99 per month. Apple has previously limited monthly billing options within mobile apps to print publishers. MLBAM additionally is breaking out the At The Ballpark features of MLB.com At Bat, including venue-specific features such as check-ins and seat upgrades, into its own free, standalone mobile app, also carrying the At The Ballpark name. The goal is to offer a cleaner, faster in-venue mobile experience that doesn't carry the fees or heavy app weight of MLB.com At Bat. "At Bat is really our live game product. Live game video. Live game tracking," Bowman said. "That should be separate from the ballpark-specific experience, and eventually, you'll see a whole set of apps from us." The "Beat The Streak" fantasy game again has its own app, and set for release later this season is an undisclosed gaming app.