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SBJ/20091207/This Week's News
MLBAM, Bloomberg team for data products
Published December 7, 2009
MLB Advanced Media has struck a multiyear deal with Bloomberg to create and sell an advanced set of statistical and analytic products for both individual MLB teams and the general public.
The pact builds on Bloomberg’s existing work in the financial markets and a continued hunger for deeper and more intuitive data analysis within baseball. In doing so, the alignment seeks to revolutionize baseball roster management and meaningfully expand MLBAM’s profile in commissioner-style fantasy baseball after continued legal defeats in the CDM Fantasy Sports case.
For Bloomberg, the project is a likely forerunner for enriched data products aimed at other sports.
“This is a very logical extension of many of the existing strengths of Bloomberg,” said Bill Squadron, a former Sportvision and IMG executive consulting for the company on the effort. “Many of the same analytical principles being applied to the markets, stocks in particular, readily apply to sports.”
For the MLBAM-Bloomberg product being sold to MLB teams, Bloomberg will take MLBAM’s real-time statistical feed from every game, as well as location-based data already being developed in partnership with Sportvision, and apply an almost limitless amount of analytical tools. For example, a team using the system can very quickly isolate the angle of a pitcher’s arm on every pitch that resulted in an extra base hit against a given opponent in a chosen game situation. For any search, the results can immediately be tracked over time. Granular-level analysis also will be broadly applied to hitting and fielding, and alerts can be established to flag desired situations.
Teams for the last several years have been able to conduct similar analysis using spreadsheet or Web-based products either purchased off the shelf or, in some cases, constructed internally. The Bloomberg product aims to provide the analytics with far greater speed and depth and do so in concert with video content also supplied by MLBAM.
“There are plenty of other products out there teams have been using, but our starting point was whether we can start over and create a state-of-the-art product, married with state-of-the-art video, which we have, and state-of-the-art software,” said Bob Bowman, MLBAM president and chief executive.
Bloomberg and MLBAM will brief teams on the effort and show the product this week at the baseball winter meetings occurring in Indianapolis. The clubs will be given a six-month free trial to test the product, with Bloomberg beginning sales on the system after that. Pricing for the clubs after the trial was not disclosed, but use of the new statistical system will be voluntary and marketed somewhat like MLBAM-owned Tickets.com, where individual clubs retain the right to make their own choice about what ticketing company to use.
On the consumer side, a similar co-branded, though less extensive, version of the analytical product will be marketed to fans via MLB.com starting in February. The product, slated to cost roughly $30 a year, will be positioned primarily to fantasy players both preparing for a draft and conducting their own roster management during the season. It also will be compatible with every major commissioner game on the market and can be adapted to self-created games, as well.
MLBAM additionally will generate editorial content from the Bloomberg system for MLB.com.
“We think there’s a real chance to grow the market with draft kits and believe ours will be second to none,” Bowman said. “We’re also very excited about what this will mean for our fantasy content area of the site, which already does well.”
Financial terms for the deal were not disclosed, but the pact will resemble what MLBAM did with StubHub for secondary ticketing in which there was an upfront payment to align with the MLB.com brand and begin the program, and then a back-end revenue-sharing component. The Bloomberg-MLBAM alliance, however, is tilted more toward the revenue sharing.