ESPN and Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced today that they have extended their new-media rights deal, allowing ESPN to stream live games on the Internet and add baseball content onto a number of platforms and devices.
But that news didn’t catch my eye. Buried deep was a little tidbit about ESPN also developing interactive television programming around baseball content.
Ding! Ding! Ding! What the heck does that mean?
Will ESPN and unnamed partners develop some sort of interactive widget or mini-screen that runs alongside baseball broadcasts on ESPN? Will this interactive television programming thingy offer up baseball stats and news from the ESPN Web site in real time?
Could ESPN be another player in what seemingly is the latest round of companies attempting to put dynamic Web content on our living room TVs?
Just yesterday Yahoo and Intel announced they were working together to bring Web content to the TV set through the use of widgets. We noted then that companies large and small have attempted to bring Web content to TV for years and that most of the efforts have failed for a variety of reasons.
There are no guarantees that the Yahoo/Intel “Channel Widget” platform will amount to much. And there’s no more word on what it means for ESPN to develop interactive television programming around baseball content.
But this activity is intriguing. Maybe there are a few companies rethinking the Internet-to-TV interactive relationship, and they might have some innovative solutions up their sleeves.
The time seems ripe, and who better to lead the charge than sports programming? The ESPN/MLBAM deal allows ESPN to stream on ESPN360 its Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday-night telecasts. ESPN can syndicate some MLB content to its partners, delivering baseball on alternative platforms such as iTunes and Xbox Live Marketplace. And maybe, just maybe, ESPN Web content is going to mingle with the sports network on your TV.
Ooh. This is getting interesting.