Confirmed: KC has MLB-provided Wi-Fi, part of plan to bring Wi-Fi and DAS to all MLB stadiums

KC fans at seriesThe rumored Wi-Fi network at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium is now a confirmed entity, according to Joe Inzerillo, executive vice president and CTO for In a phone call Thursday, Inzerillo said the Royals’ new network is part of a league-wide effort to bring Wi-Fi to all MLB parks, a task he thinks may take another year or two to complete.

As has stated publicly before — but maybe not spelled out in so much detail — it has a program under which Major League Baseball teams can “opt in” to have and the nation’s top four wireless carriers participate in the funding and building of both Wi-Fi and DAS networks in MLB stadiums. Though he wouldn’t divulge the specific financial commitments for specific deals, Inzerillo said that under the program “everyone has some skin in the game,” though he did allow that the league and the carriers, not the teams, foot the bulk of the bills.

Still, Inzerillo stressed that individual teams play a huge role in the Wi-Fi deployments, from design to deployment to management on site. “It’s not just like we show up and we’re the Wi-Fi fairies,” Inzerillo said. “This program wouldn’t be possible without the teams and the work they do.”

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 1.27.54 PMGiven MLB’s synchronized digital strategy of having the same app — and only the same app — available for fans in each ballpark, Inzerillo said that having high-quality cellular and Wi-Fi networks in each stadium was a key necessity, especially to make MLB app functions like seat upgrades and concession purchases work.

“You need to have the right [network] plumbing in place or none of the other stuff matters,” Inzerillo said.

Kauffman Stadium’s network, Inzerillo said, was just one of about a dozen MLB Wi-Fi projects that got underway this year. That it was finished in time for postseason play was just luck, and not some last-minute installation due to the Royals’ on-field successes. “It was just a fortuitous thing that it was ready,” said Inzerillo, who said that construction of Wi-Fi at Kauffman had been ongoing for the past 5 to 6 months.

Though the network wasn’t promoted on the team’s website or anywhere else on the Internet, Inzerillo said the Royals were promoting it at the stadium. Even without a lot of advertising, fans found the network, he said, claiming “tens of thousands” of Wi-Fi connections during the Royals’ postseason run. However, Inzerillo also said some extra cellular trucks were brought in by some of the carriers for the Royals playoff games because the DAS at Kauffman isn’t quite finished yet.

Inzerillo said that anywhere from 22 to 26 teams will eventually end up using some combination of league-provided Wi-Fi and/or DAS. The league’s goal of having every stadium fully wired should be nearly complete by opening day of 2015, he said, with a more likely “final” goal of complete coverage reached sometime in 2016. In 2014, Mobile Sports Report research showed that 10 of the 30 MLB stadiums didn’t have fan-facing Wi-Fi; some of those teams (like Kansas City) will be getting MLB networks, while some other program participants are upgrading existing systems, Inzerillo said.

Under the MLB network deal, the DAS in each stadium will be a neutral-host deployment hosted by one of the four major U.S. cellular carriers — AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile — depending on things like regional/historical market share and existing contracts, Inzerillo said. While the carriers will operate the MLB DAS deployments, the Wi-Fi networks will be deployed, run and monitored by MLB, either from its New York City or San Francisco network operation centers, Inzerillo said. Wi-Fi gear will come mainly from Cisco, though Inzerillo said there is also a small percentage of Meru Networks gear based on teams that had previously installed Meru equipment.

Though Inzerillo said MLB may make some overall announcement once the league-wide project is completed, he didn’t necessarily think that having working Wi-Fi and DAS in stadiums was such a big deal.

“It’s kind of a weird thing to think about bragging about,” said Inzerillo, who compared Wi-Fi and DAS to plumbing as a basic stadium necessity, not an amenity. Having high quality networks, he said, “are table stakes for a modern facility.”

UPDATE: The Kansas City Royals are now officially promoting the Wi-Fi, with some usage claims:

MLB delivers daily fantasy game in partnership with DraftKings


In the past Major League Baseball once denounced daily fantasy baseball games as gambling, implying that no skill was involved, but that has changed as baseball has teamed with fantasy sports contest provider DraftKings for an offering that launches with the upcoming season.

The Official Mini Fantasy Game of is a free one-day fantasy league that can be entered daily and offers fans the ability to win tickets to regular season games, the 2014 All-Star Game and a 2014 World Series game. There are a total of four grand prizes, two each to the All-Star and World Series as well as a number of other prizes.

Players get a $50,000 salary cap and then select from a field of players that has 10 position players who can accumulate points (or lose them) by accomplishing select actions such as +5 points for a stolen base and +2 points for each strike out a pitcher earns. There will be several different offerings including a daily Official Fantasy Contest and a weekly Friday Home Team contest among others.

DraftKings specializes in creating what it calls daily leagues, ones that you can play and then quit, none of this following a fantasy baseball team for a season trying to convince a fellow owner to trade his star starting pitcher for your broken down LOOGY.

Its system is simple and has the potential to be lucrative for users. It has both free and paid contests in which participants select individuals to make up a team, watch how they perform that day and if they perform the best you can win cash. DraftKings is currently running several contests including a March Madness one. It offers contests in five major sports: MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA and the PGA. It offers a wide variety of contests from head-to-head to qualifiers.

This will be interesting to see how this pans out on many levels. Lotteries have tried to have sports offerings and most of the major league teams have fought against them. States, led by New Jersey, have then fought back, so far unsuccessfully. Now a league is endorsing it as a skill event and that could lead to an easing of other leagues’ dislike of this type of activity.

MLB sees strong increase in mobile and social media demand during playoffs


Major League Baseball had a great postseason (depending on who you were rooting for), with exciting games and strong broadcast viewership but it also experienced a great deal of success connecting online and via mobile with its fans as well.

While all of the playoffs and World Series had strong viewership during the 38-game run saw a huge increase in fan participation, with a total of 296.4 million viewers over that period, an increase of 43% over the previous year and an average of approximately 10 million a day, according to stats from

In the area of live video streams saw a very big jump in viewership, overall up 22% compared to 2012. Viewership on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones was up 30%YOY. The video was available from MLB’s broadcast partners TBS and MLB Network and was seen on Postseason.TV on and in At Bat.

However live video, which requires a subscription, was only the tip of the iceberg. Combined with on-demand video had 152 million video streams representing a massive 170% increase over last year. Mobile is driving this usage with At Bat app’s share of the total video streams delivered increased 130% compared to last year’s Postseason.

MLB’s mobile app, At Bat, saw its usage up 76% this postseason, and was opened 76.6 million times or an average of 2.5 million times a day. MLB was active on Facebook, with its team of posters recording 4,800 individual posts, which in turn had 1.4 billion impressions. The impressions were up 80% from last year. MLB also delivered 2,840 posts on Twitter at @MLB and saw an increase of 81% in retweets.

For the first time distributed highlight clips across a wide swath of social media including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which were watched collectively 33.5 million times.

MLB.Com’s use of a wide variety of mobile and social media technologies to reach fans is obviously showing strong return interest by fans and enables fans that cannot see the games to catch highlights and information on a as it happens basis, something that will keep fans coming back for more.

MSR Special Report: Bringing Technology to the ‘Friendly Confines’ of Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field on Opening Day, 2012. Photo courtesy of Chicago Cubs.  All rights reserved.

Wrigley Field on Opening Day, 2012. Photo courtesy of Chicago Cubs. All rights reserved.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of interviews with speakers and thought leaders from the upcoming SEAT 2013 conference in Kansas City, Aug. 4-7.

There are baseball stadiums, and then there is Wrigley Field. As a dyed in the blue-pinstriped-wool Cubs fan, I can’t write objectively about the place. It is Mecca, the Friendly Confines, the hallowed outfield walls of ivy. It’s precisely because of people like me that Andrew McIntyre’s job of bringing better technology to the storied ballyard is so much more complex than that of his stadium-technology peers. Wrigley may have one of the greenest fields anywhere, but from an information-technology deployment standpoint Wrigley is about as far away from a “greenfield” project as you can get.

McIntyre, Senior Director of Information Technology for the Chicago Cubs, spoke with MSR recently on the phone to describe the delicate line his organization must tread as it brings necessary technology improvements to one of the world’s great historic sporting venues. In other stadiums, things like a brand-new huge video board would be welcomed, even celebrated. At Wrigley? Renovation plans that include an outfield video board will need to pass muster with national landmark regulations, and survice reactions from a widespread fan base that resists even the slightest changes to the stadium, and work with the unique neighborhood apartment buildings whose rooftops offer views into the stadium.

So when McIntyre said the Cubs need to get “everyone on board” before things like video screens can be introduced, he’s talking about a lot more than people who pull a Cubs paycheck. That extra planning, McIntyre admits, will likely keep the Cubs a bit behind their sports-stadium brethren in certain technology areas, like digital signage. But on many other fronts McIntyre and his technology team are helping the Cubs and Wrigley keep pace with advanced stadium services, like better mobile device connectivity.

Wi-Fi and DAS, with AT&T

Now in his second year with the Cubs, McIntyre and the IT team there has spent a good amount of time putting infrastructure in place that will support future efforts, beginning with things like optical fiber deployments that bring an almost 10-fold speed improvement in bandwidth backhaul.

Andrew McIntyre, Senior Director of Information Technology, Chicago Cubs. Photo courtesy of Chicago Cubs.  All rights reserved.

Andrew McIntyre, Senior Director of Information Technology, Chicago Cubs. Photo courtesy of Chicago Cubs. All rights reserved.

“Some severe infrastructure upgrades were needed here to enable initiatives moving forward,” McIntyre said. “There was historically a lack of investment from the IT side of the house. We’ve been working on a lot of non-fan-facing improvements that are very critical to us.”

One improvement that fans have been able to enjoy for the past season and a half is improved mobile connectivity inside the park, thanks to a neutral-host Distributed Antenna System (DAS) deployment and a stadium Wi-Fi network, built with carrier partner AT&T. “Next time you’re here, keep your eyes peeled for the antennas,” McIntyre said.

Having improved cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity puts the Cubs in the top third of MLB franchises, as by our count only 12 of the 30 major league parks currently offer free fan Wi-Fi services. When it comes to advanced apps and services that such in-park networks might power, like same-day seat upgrades or video replays, McIntyre said the Cubs are paying close attention to pilot programs underway at other parks, and will be “fast followers” when MLB-approved solutions are ready for prime time. (All in-stadium apps in baseball parks can only be run through the league’s At Bat or At the Ballpark mobile app.)

“I don’t think anyone’s knocking it out of the park yet” with in-stadium services, McIntyre said. But McIntyre also said he and the Cubs have met with franchises who are trying leading-edge deployments, including the San Francisco Giants and some European stadiums.

“We’re doing a lot of watching, listening, and learning,” McIntyre said.

Digital Signage as a Communication Vehicle

While most of the heated debate around the Cubs’ renovation plans centers on the size and placement of the proposed outfield video board, McIntyre and his team are looking deeper into a synchronized digital signage strategy, where boards all around the stadium — even, say, a concession stand pricing menu — could become a communications vehicle for the team to send messages out to the fans.

Wrigley Field marquee entrance. Photo courtesy of Chicago Cubs.  All rights reserved.

Wrigley Field marquee entrance. Photo courtesy of Chicago Cubs. All rights reserved.

“One major thing we are investigating is how the signage can change, to become a communications channel,” McIntyre said. Currently, when games go to a rain delay, there’s not a lot of ways for the team to give fans information about when the game might restart, or to communicate weather forecasts and safety instructions. That could change with a digital signage system that can instantly act as a synchronized stadium-wide messaging system.

“The digital signage strategy doesn’t necessarily get highlighted [in public discussions] but it can all become a vehicle to communicate,” McIntyre said.

Andrew McIntyre will be speaking at the upcoming SEAT Conference in Kansas City, Aug. 4-7.

MLB.Com’s At Bat Expands Ballpark with BlackBerry 10 Support

Research in Motion has a lot riding on the upcoming release of its next generation BlackBerry smartphones, the BlackBerry 10, but it now gains support from an important app market from which it has in the past been a virtual non-player, sports.

RIM is expected to unveil its latest smartphone next week at an event in New York City showing both a pair of handsets as well as its latest iteration of its operating system as the company seeks to halt the strong sales and user erosion that it has experienced in the past two years as new generations of smartphones have soared past it in popularity and sales.

The BlackBerry has long been viewed as a solid enterprise tool but was sadly lacking in apps and features that would help it expand out of its business centric sales, but this deal could be the start of a major change in that perspective.

Queue At Bat, one of the most popular apps available for smartphones, and one that seems to be the top app for some time for iPhone users. While pricing and availability details are not yet available, has said that the 2013 version will be available by Opening Day, or rather Opening Night, March 31, 2013.

At Bat is the official mobile app for Major League Baseball and has a huge array of features ranging from Winter Meetings news to analysis of what clubs are doing. Roster information, game scores, both this year and last are available as well as watching games and even for premium members, viewing classic games that are in baseball’s archives.

This is a strong move for RIM and should help it gain at least some credence in the consumer market space, helping break down the barrier from the enterprise into the bigger overall market. It will be interesting to see what other apps are available at announcement because even as popular as this one is, there is a lot of room for growth in this space by the company.

Sunday Sermon: Does Digital Right

If I told you that has broadcast 15,000 live events across its digital and broadcast properties since September, you might think it was just another April Fool’s joke. But this very serious factoid, divulged in an interview with CBS last week, is just another hint that the “Big Eye” network is getting things right when it comes to bringing sports fans more of what they want, no matter how it gets there.

“People don’t realize how many live events we do,” said Jason Kint, senior vice president and GM of, in a phone interview last week. This time of year, as usual, is CBS’s time to shine with its back-to-back big events, the men’s NCAA hoops tournament followed by golf’s crown jewel, the Masters. And while the events are huge regular-broadcast ratings earners, they are also prime examples of how to do digital sports coverage right, from depth of content offered to technology-based innovation.

Getting the Rights Right is Step No. 1

It wasn’t too long ago that trying to watch as much of the NCAA tournament as you could was an exercise in futility. CBS kept the broadcast rights close to its vest and only showed select games to select regions of the country. Remember the old “look-in” snippets of exotic games? Or trying to find sports bars who could get satellite feeds of the distant regionals?

Several years ago, all that changed when online video emerged as a stable platform, and embraced it for the NCAAs in a bigger way than any other major event had. All of a sudden, seeing every game you wanted to live online was possible. And even though the fees and locations are still a work in progress — one year the cost was $10, last year it was free, and this year there was a $3.99 charge for mobile device app viewing — the bottom line was that every game was out there for fans to see, on multiple platforms.

At the Masters there is also a little bit of overlapping coverage — you can see all the CBS coverage directly at or via a Masters-issued mobile device app, or you can go directly to, either via a wired connection or through a mobile-device browser. The big point is, there’s no digital shutout to cause consternation, like the regional blackouts that frustrate baseball and football fans.

“A lot of [digital coverage] is slowed down by the way the [broadcast] rights are constructed,” Kint said. “With the NCAAs we started out with rights across multiple platforms so we were able to move forward in unique ways, thinking about what the fans wanted.”

Innovation pushes the fan envelope

The Masters was another early digital sports standout, breaking away from any other online event coverage, golf or otherwise, with an enormous amount of additional content. Who knew that fans would keep their computers glued to coverage of “Amen Corner” for hours at a time? But that is what has happened, and the online viewership for the event only keeps growing, Kint said.

“You have to give credit to Augusta National for being forward thinking, yet doing things in a way that keeps it exclusive and special,” Kint said. Part of what makes the Masters a compelling online attraction is the fact that half the competition takes place on Thursday and Friday, when many U.S. fans are still at work. The second part is that the Masters has a unique history, being the only major contested at the same course year in and out, so that places like Amen Corner or other holes like 13, 15 and 16 become fan favorites all their own.

Plus, for many golfers the lyricism that is Augusta is a welcome harbinger of spring and summer, the seasonal reminder that grass is growing and it’s good to be outside.

“Masters online viewing has long hang time — we see a lot of average viewer times of more than an hour,” Kint said. “It’s almost therapeutic, to just leave it on in the background.”

This year, the online coverage will add new treats, including coverage of the Wednesday par 3 contest (which will also be covered via regular broadcast outlets, like ESPN and on’s cable channel) and a new “On the Range” talk-show segment beginning Monday of Masters week.

And though we probably aren’t to the point yet where fans’ tweets will be shown on Masters scoreboards, you can bet that will continue to find ways to stay at the forefront of the social media conversation. We really liked its after-the-game chats during the college football season, and you can bet the signing of former ESPN personality and Twitter champ Jim Rome to a show on CBSSportsNet (which starts Tuesday night) will help push the fan-interaction envelope going forward, and keep its digital-sports winning streak intact.