Technology helps MLB boost ties to fans
by Denise Sperle
Apr 11, 2013 | 1131 views | 0 0 comments | 241 241 recommendations | email to a friend | print
April is a special month for Northern California sports fans, as the San Francisco Giants begin the defense of their 2012 World Series championship and the Oakland A’s seek to build on last season’s playoff appearance.

Whether you follow the Giants, the A’s or any other Major League Baseball team, spring is the time for renewed hope for a successful season.

Although baseball is known as “the national pastime,” steeped in history and nostalgia, it also is a leader among professional sports in the use of technology to enhance fan enjoyment.

With the increased availability of broadband Internet connectivity and streaming technology accessed from smartphones and mobile devices, fans can stay connected to their favorite teams anywhere, anytime, using mobile apps to watch live broadcasts and check in on their teams.

One of the best options is MLB.tv’s On the Go subscription service. It offers access to any MLB game on an iPad, iPhone or Android device — or a direct stream to a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 game system.

Depending on the device connection and the number of games watched, subscriptions range from $40 to $60 for all-season access. Included with some subscriptions is MLB.com’s At Bat, the official app of Major League Baseball and one of the top-selling sports apps.

Of course, the ultimate fan experience is still a trip to the local ballpark. But even as fans soak up the atmosphere of live game action, teams are increasingly offering Internet access at their stadiums to add to the enjoyment.

The Giants’ home field, AT&T Park, was the first professional sports venue to offer stadiumwide Wi-Fi. Several other teams have built similar networks, realizing that easy access to cellphone and mobile data service is becoming a fan expectation for a game-day experience.

Advances in technology are even making it easier to get a soft drink and a hot dog at the ballpark. Using Wi-Fi, fans can not only view replays and real-time stats on their smartphones, but also, from the comfort of their seats, place food orders from stadium concessions.

Social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, also are having a substantial impact on how fans interact with their favorite baseball teams.

These popular platforms are an integral strategy for MLB clubs to market upcoming games and promotional events. Tweets from teams and players provide insight into day-to-day operations, and fan Twitter messages often are displayed “live” on stadium scoreboards.

Baseball has been part of the fabric of American culture for more than a century, but an infusion of new technology is keeping it fresh and relevant in today’s connected world.

Using online technology wisely and carefully is important, whether at the ballpark, on the road or in your living room — and that means never disclosing passwords or other sensitive personal information and always keeping security software up to date. Such products can help protect users from cyber theft, malware and viruses while enhancing online security and privacy.

Best wishes for baseball fans this season, and may your favorite team play for it all in October.

Denise Sperle, a volunteer columnist for the Irrigator, is the Central Valley general manager for Frontier Communications. She welcomes questions about technology and Internet safety at denise.sperle@frontiercorp.com or www.frontier.com.

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