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Volume 22 No. 39
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MLB partner NTT to offer unique view

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and NTT president and CEO Jun Sawada made the announcement in New York.
Photo: getty images
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and NTT president and CEO Jun Sawada made the announcement in New York.
Photo: getty images
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and NTT president and CEO Jun Sawada made the announcement in New York.
Photo: getty images

Baseball fans soon won’t need to actually be inside an MLB ballpark to feel like they are watching a game from the field.

MLB and its new official partner, Tokyo-based NTT, are already in the planning stages for a prototype Ultra Reality Viewing experience at select upcoming games. 

NTT’s URV technology, which has been used for soccer games in Japan, generates and transmits high-definition and wide-angle visibility images in real time that cannot be captured by traditional cameras. URV is NTT’s real-time super high-definition surround video synthesis technology that combines multiple 4K camera images into a super-wide image, such as 12K, in real time and transmits them synchronously to remote locations. 

The viewing experience promises to be anything but conventional. And for a league that has introduced a variety of innovations, including livestreaming games since 2002, the multiyear partnership marks the latest step for MLB to try to remain at the forefront of sports technology. 

“Over the past five years, we have worked really hard to make our sport, our game available on platforms that are new, that are innovative, that reach a younger audience,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “We think the partnership with NTT provides us with an opportunity to add an additional platform and to reach more people.”

NTT is the first Japan-based information technology company to become an official MLB partner in the United States. It is the latest international initiative for MLB in a year that has already seen it open the regular season in Tokyo, play two games in London and play two regular-season series in Monterrey, Mexico.

“It’s about more than just playing games outside the United States,” Manfred said. “It’s about business relationships, and sponsors and partners that are international in scope. And obviously NTT fits that bill for us as well.”

Initial collaboration on a proof-of-concept for URV may take place at the Arizona Fall League (Salt River Fields) and then, potentially, a postseason game with MLB Network. Neither would be publicly available.

NTT is the “Official MLB Fan Experience Partner for Ultra Reality Viewing” and title sponsor of MLB Network’s Ballpark Cam technology. Controlled from MLB Network’s studios in Secaucus, N.J., NTT Ballpark Cam is a network of cameras installed across all 30 MLB ballparks.

“Technological innovations,” said Jun Sawada, president and CEO, NTT Corp., “have the potential to change sport and fan experience drastically.”