The newly redesigned MLB App headlined MLB's 2023 Innovation and Fan Engagement Showcase at the league's New York City headquarters on Tuesday.
With Opening Day two days away, MLB unveiled the innovations coming to Major League Baseball for the 2023 season.
That includes on-field technology for players and umpires, and consumer technology to enhance baseball fans' experience of the game -- whether they're at the ballpark, watching on TV, streaming the game or following on Gameday.
"We're making a really concerted effort to reach the casual or adjacent fan," said MLB chief operations and strategy officer Chris Marinak. "We've had a lot of success with avid fans, and I think our tools, widely, have served the avid fan really well. What we're focusing on, across everything -- marketing, technology, content -- is engaging with the next generation of the fan: younger fans, fans who may be fans of multiple sports and are waiting for baseball to invite them in.
"It's about somebody who's interested in the story, who's interested in the players, who's interested in easy access to content and baseball information and not having to really search for it. Those are the types of upgrades and enhancements we've made this year."
Here are the biggest new features being introduced in baseball innovation, technology and fan engagement.
MLB APP REDESIGN
The new MLB App was just launched, and it's now designed to make baseball easier to watch than ever -- and to bring MLB's star players to the forefront more than ever.
When you open the app, the Home feed is now completely personalized, so fans can follow their favorite teams and favorite players. Scroll through the feed to get breaking news, see the latest stories from around the league and watch highlights.
It's aimed toward being everything a fan wants on one screen, with the following sections:
- Favorite Team Snapshot -- With pregame, live-game and postgame versions
- My Followed Players -- If you're a Mets fan but you want to follow Shohei Ohtani, the MLB App makes that easy on the Home tab
- Headlines and Video Highlights
- MLB Stories -- MLB's swipeable Game Stories, the app's video-first, mobile-friendly storytelling format, have two new features: Game Previews, and Player Stories featuring highlights for all position players (with pitchers soon to come)
- Feed -- With articles, videos, standings and more
The Watch hub within the app is also now personalized with curated video content based on each fan's favorite teams and other preferences. MLB Film Room is also better integrated so fans can search MLB's video library more easily.
"There's a pretty significant change in what we're delivering for the MLB App," Marinak said. "The idea of providing curated content on a home tab that gets your favorite team, your favorite players and then customized news stories and other video highlights, is just a different way of presenting baseball content to a fan. And we've gotten great feedback around that already."
Gameday -- where fans can follow games live, pitch by pitch -- is faster and easier to navigate, and it also has new features, including Win Probability data being integrated for Key Moments and an "At Bat Detail" view with Statcast data that's coming to the app on Opening Day. Fans with Apple devices with iOS 16 or later can also now track their favorite team's games live on their lock screen.
A new "Gameday 3D" feature will also be piloted for MLB.TV's Free Games of the Day this season -- with 3D renderings of every play using Hawk-Eye's tracking technology that allow fans to see the game from any angle.
"The vision for the MLB App from the beginning was to be the No. 1 destination for baseball content anywhere, anytime," Marinak said. "This latest app release adds several new fan-friendly features like the personalized home tab, easier access to favorite teams and MLB’s biggest stars, and closer integration with more live baseball on MLB.TV. We are excited for fans to be even closer to the action in the MLB App for the 2023 season."
NEW FEATURES FOR MLB.TV
MLB's growth in streaming has been huge in recent seasons. MLB.TV has reached a total of 146 million games watched, up 42% just from 2019, and 11.5 billion total minutes watched, up 53% from 2019.
To continue that growth in 2023, MLB has introduced two big new features to MLB.TV.
1) Gameday Mode
This all-new mode on connected devices augments the live game experience by allowing fans to add an overlay to their MLB.TV stream with pitch-by-pitch information for each at bat -- such as pitch type and location, speed, spin rate, pitch movement and sports betting data. Fans will be able to toggle what they see.
2) Minor League games
All Minor League games will now be available to watch live on MLB.TV for subscribers, meaning fans can watch the top prospects of their favorite teams in action. You can find the Minor League games on the Watch tab of the MLB App.
BALLPARK APP UPDATES
MLB's Ballpark app has a slate of new features that go hand in hand with Major League Baseball's new ticketing partnerships this year.
MLB is implementing a new model for ticketing in 2023, with the goal of creating integrated ticketing marketplaces with as many partners as possible -- including SeatGeek, MLB's new official fan-to-fan marketplace, StubHub and others.
So the new features on the Ballpark app in 2023 are geared toward getting more tickets in the hands of more fans while ensuring those tickets are verified. They include rotating barcodes for tickets (screenshots of tickets won't work), SeatGeek integration with Ballpark and SMS tickets for fans who walk up and buy tickets at the box office to get those tickets immediately delivered digitally via text.
"The capabilities that you're seeing for this particular season are really around creating this integrated ecosystem of tickets," Marinak said. "It's a lot of these infrastructure elements that tie together the whole experience of getting a ticket into a seamless experience for the fan."
Along with MLB's innovations in consumer technology, new technology is coming to the game itself. Here are some of those features.
PitchCom technology has expanded from 2022 to '23. Pitchers will now be allowed to wear a PitchCom device on their glove or belt to call their own game, as well as the catcher.
- Umpire tech
Umpires will wear Reidel Belt Packs that let them communicate with the New York replay center, make announcements and monitor the pitch timer, and ClockComs -- a watchlike device provided by the PitchCom team that helps the umpire enforce the pitch timer.
- Dugout iPads
The iPads that players and coaches can access in the dugout during games will include additional features like screen annotation this season.
- Bat tracking
This is a huge step for how we understand the game. Bat tracking technology -- which was tested in Houston and Los Angeles last season -- is now equipped in all 30 MLB ballparks. That means we'll be able to track MLB players' swing speed, bat path and where on the bat they make contact with the ball, all captured by high-frame rate cameras.
"When we put these technologies in place, we no longer look at them from one angle of, 'OK, what does the batter or the pitcher need?'" Marinak said. "We still consider that, but we also say, 'How does this help with the storytelling?'
"If we're tracking the bat because we want the hitter to know what his attack angle is so he can hit more home runs, we also at the same time think about: How do we visualize that in a way, and tell a story around it, that's compelling for a fan who wants to understand how this hitter's swing or approach compares to others? We've really done a lot of work in the last couple of years to integrate that consumer viewpoint. And I think it shows in a lot of the way the game is presented."