Fox to live stream baseball’s All-Star game

Target Field, the downtown home of the Minnesota Twins. Credit: Minnesota Twins

Target Field, the downtown home of the Minnesota Twins. Credit: Minnesota Twins

Fox Sports Go will live streaming online coverage of Major League Baseball’s All-Star game on Tuesday, starting at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time, according to Fox. Good news for those of you who prefer commentary in Spanish, Fox will also provide a stream with commentary from the FOX Deportes telecast. (No word on whether we can also get an “anybody but Joe Buck” version of the play-by-play, but Spanish or mute should work if not.)

P.S. — if you look here I think the home run derby is live online right now.

Like previous Fox Sports Go online efforts, the stream will be available to subscribers of “participating video providers,” so if your cable or TV provider is listed here, you just authenticate and you are good to go. According to Fox, here is the list of devices and URLs where you can watch the stream:

“FOX Sports GO is currently available for iOS, Android, and Kindle phones and tablets, select Windows devices, and on desktops through”

According to Fox this is the first time the MLB All-Star game is being streamed live online, but our guess is it won’t be the last. If you’re not near a TV, please enjoy Bud Selig’s “meaningful” game. Also if you are at the game live please send us a Wi-Fi and/or DAS network report from the new Target Field network … good luck Twins hosts!

Fox: We’re ready for big Super Bowl streaming audience

While nobody can predict how things like a stadium blackout or a polar vortex might affect the broadcast of an event like the Super Bowl, executives at Fox are doing all they can to prepare to make sure this year’s online coverage of the NFL’s championship game goes off as well as possible.

With viewership expected to exceed last year’s total of 3 million unique online viewers, the live stream of Super Bowl XLVIII will be available on iPads in the Fox Sports Go app and via a browser at The online feed will be available free to anyone with an Internet connection starting at 12 a.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 2, and will also include access to a Spanish-language broadcast.

But remember: The live streaming from Fox is only available for desktops or laptops, or via an iPad using the FoxSportsGo app. Because of NFL rights contracts, to watch the game live on a smartphone you need to be a Verizon customer and have the $5 per month premium version of the NFL Mobile app installed.

No matter which platform you choose to use, as always the Super Bowl should be a compelling story, even if that tale is something other than the game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. Super Bowl XLVIII is scheduled to start around 6:30 p.m. ET from MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, where snow and cold may be part of the equation.

“It should be interesting, with [possible] weather in New Jersey,” said Clark Pierce, senior vice president of mobile and advanced platforms for Fox Sports, in a phone interview earlier this week. “We’re ready for traffic to spike at some moment when something happens, and we get a lot of concurrent users. We’ll see how we do.”

Tablet audience keeps fueling growth

Granted, the online viewer numbers for the Super Bowl are completely dwarfed by the regular TV viewers, which for last year’s game totaled 164 million. But having 4 million unique viewers online is a huge digital audience, and it’s one that Pierce said Fox has been planning for over the past few years.

“We know what CBS did [for streaming] and we know what NBC did,” Pierce said of the networks which had the Super Bowl broadcast the past 2 years. “And we’re working with [content delivery network provider] Akamai, and it’s not their first rodeo. So I think we’re ready for whatever can happen.”

Perhaps the biggest number of online viewers for this year’s Super Bowl will come via Apple iPads, the market leader in the tablet form factor. While Fox has not yet released viewer numbers by device or platform for its restricted streaming of the NFC playoff games, it did say it had a record 2.4 million visitors to its website on championship Sunday, a 53 percent increase over the previous year. Pierce said increases in digital viewers are partially due to the expanding tablet market, and tablet owners getting more comfortable watching sports on a smaller screen.

“The concept of watching TV on a smaller screen is another year down the road and people are just that much more used to it,” said Pierce, who also said that online viewers may choose tablets over laptops or desktops due to clearer pictures.

“People are getting spoiled by Apple and Android devices with really high screen resolution,” Pierce said.

Streaming delay inevitable

What doesn’t work so well with any live streaming option is trying to use it as a “second screen” alongside a live TV broadcast. Because of the technical necessities of putting a live signal online — which includes mainly taking the TV feed and encoding it to the Internet — delays between “live” TV and the show online can be from 20 seconds to a minute or more, Pierce said.

“It does take time to take a big HD picture and encode it into IP,” Pierce said. “There’s just no way around it.”

In the future, Pierce hopes to help Fox add more features to its online offerings, maybe making them something like what broadcast engineers see in the event production studios, with multiple monitors offering different feeds and live stats. Still, just having a free online broadcast is a huge leap forward from the recent past.

“It’s been exciting to build it, and in the future our team hopes to add more content and features,” Pierce said. “The horizon is pretty exciting.”

MLB, NFL team up to battle Aereo


Live-TV startup Aereo has been taking on television broadcasters and winning but now faces an assault by two of America’s largest sports leagues, the NFL and MLB as they seek to prevent it from showing their broadcasts.

The two leagues are seeking to piggyback with an amicus brief to a petition filed by broadcasters that asks the United States Supreme Court to rule on the legality of Aereo’s broadcasting of local over the air signals.

In case you are unfamiliar with Aereo, it is a startup that makes a combination DVR/antenna that captures over the air broadcasts and allows customers to its $8 a month service to view the programming on Internet connected devices.

It started out in New York City last year and then moved to Boston and Atlanta, surviving legal challenges along the way. It has now accelerated its expansion efforts and recently moved into Utah, Chicago, Miami, Houston and Dallas this year.

Apparently this is terrible news to the sports leagues, as well as with NBC, Fox, ABC and CBS, the broadcasters that filed the initial suit. The broadcasters have claimed that Aereo is violating their copyrights and must pay retransmission fees.

The sports leagues have piled on claiming that if they lose exclusive retransmission licensing rights it will make over the air broadcasting less attractive and that they would be forced to go to paid cable networks. According to a piece in Variety the amount that the league collects is about $100 million for those rights.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out on a number of levels. Cable has been losing viewership as a generation of ‘cable cutters’ has emerged and they use Netflix and other online programs, get over the air antennas or do without.

Also the sports should keep boxing in mind. A once popular over the air sport it moved its premium events to pay per view cable, and helped kill the sport. While basic cable is not the same as PPV the example is one to remember.

The trend to get over the air broadcast, either from a service such as Aereo or by using a proxy, often illegal, appears to have accelerated the movement of quality content to basic cable where it is much more difficult to rebroadcast. Will sports follow this trend?

NFL signs promoted tweet deal with Twitter


In a deal that will likely make its rivals sit up and notice Twitter has signed a deal with the NFL that will feature hosted Tweets that include embedded video, highlights and analysis from NFL games and programs.

The NFL will create a dedicated team to produce content for Twitter not just on game days but seven days a week including in-game video from the Thursday Night games and will feature reports and video from all of a week’s games after they have aired, regardless of which network is showing the game.

The deal’s timing is interesting as it comes just before the expected IPO for Twitter, which was already top of mind for investors prior to this news.


The deal is interesting for a number of reasons. Twitter already has a partner that has an Amplify deal in Verizon, but apparently that only pertains to the Super Bowl. ESPN is also a partner, but it cannot broadcast NFL video in its tweets, even from its NFL broadcasts, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The agreement is part of Twitter’s Amplify service that enables broadcasters to show video clips and other programming, and ads, which is synchronized with programs that are currently airing, giving users a second screen experience that shows content that might not be available on the broadcast. The two share ad revenue that is generated from the tweets.

You may not be familiar with the Amplify service by name but if you watch sports, or other outlets for that matter, you have most likely witnessed it in action. Twitter already has deals with a number of major players including Turner Sports, the NCAA, ESPN, BBC America, Fox and the Weather Channel.

Hopefully this is a trend that other sports leagues will follow so that when fans are not in front of their screens that can still get more than just a taunting text message from their friends about the state of their favorite team.

(Editor’s note: Interestingly, the video doesn’t work in embedded tweets but redirects you to a Twitter page. Sample video tweet below. Follow @NFL for sponsored video tweets.)

Verizon Extends NFL Mobile Deal for $1 Billion

Verizon Wireless and the NFL have extended their current deal around mobile viewing of live NFL games, with a $1 billion, 4-year extension announced this week.

The billion-dollar deal does not, however, cover mobile viewing on tablet devices, a distinction noted by this story in Sports Business Daily and one we will bet is going to be kept by the league for its own video streaming plans. There will be more to this story later, but the good news for football fans who have Verizon phones is that for the 2014 season, you will be able to watch all live games — including CBS and Fox broadcasts — and not just the Thursday-Sunday lineup now available.

No word yet on ESPN’s plans to pay for mobile access for sports fans. On the Verizon side, the NFL Mobile viewing access is still apparently priced at $5 per month, but I bet that increases with the increased game schedule in 2014. Got to pay for that $1 billion bill somehow!

CEA Working to Smoothly Combine Apps, Content and Devices

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has formed a new working group called the Device, Apps and Content working group (DAC) that will serve as a form of open air forum for members interested in working together and solving joint issues.

The move is a first by the organization in this area, it has seen a tremendous upsurge in interest in how apps are developed, distributed, collected and viewed among its member companies. To be clear this will not be a standards setting body, although the CEA does have a technology and standards groups.

The development of the DAC is a natural outgrowth of what is happening in the industry exemplified by the recent Consumer Electronics Show last month in Las Vegas where the more than 20,000 new product introductions were designed to unite CE and content.

The CEA sees this convergence, where consumer electronics devices are increasingly moving from stand alone products to ones that fill multiple roles including receiving and displaying digital technology as a growing opportunity for its members.

Jason Oxman, CEA’s senior vice president, industry affairs said. “Our aim is to transform content convergence so that consumers have better access to what they want directly from their electronic devices.”

There is no limit to the amount of members that are permitted in a workgroup and a number of prominent companies are already signing up, sowing the broad appeal this approach has to its membership.

Among those involved are Fox, IBM, Netflix, Tivo, Sharp, Kenwood, Pandora and Nintendo. by Bryan Burns, ESPN’s vice president of strategic business planning, will chair the DAC and its focus will be toward companies an interest in content distribution and app development.