70 years of televised baseball and we’re still fighting for the remote

old TV

Last week was the 70th anniversary of the first televised professional baseball game in major league history.  On August 26th, 1939, it was a doubleheader that took place in Brooklyn between the Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds (the very first televised baseball game was a game between Princeton and Columbia held at Bakers Field).. 

There was nothing particularly outstanding about the games themselves though the Reds did manage a 5 run inning in the first game to make a comeback making the final score 5-2.  Dem Bums made it a split by scoring a quick six runs in the first three innings and never looked back winning the second game 6-1.

While the implications of televising this game most definitely had far-reaching effects, I’m sure those at the time may have had their doubts.  There were only about 400 television sets in the New York that could take advantage of this this new technology.  The quality of the picture was very grainy and snowy. 

But the picture quality eventually improved over years, taking away the mystique of the commentaries from the radio broadcasters and showing EXACTLY what was happening on the ball field.  And with the continued development of televised baseball broadcasting, Major League Baseball owners saw with delight the revenue streams that could be exploited with it.  Soon after with sports media networks such as ESPN, came to the same conclusion. 

Fast forward through 70 years of development, both from a technological and business sense and in the last 10 years, we see Major League Baseball going through a new revolution in content delivery.  We now have High-Definition television taking the picture quality to a higher level. 

But we also see MLB content delivery taking a different turn away from conventional television.  We no longer need to switch on the remote to follow your favorite team.  In 2000, MLB created a new branch, the Major League Baseball Advanced Media, to meet this need.  Generally speaking, the MLBAM is charged with content delivery of baseball on the internet as well as any interactive media.  Because of MLBAM, fans can view baseball games on streaming video over our computer and recently, even our smartphones.

Orville and Wilbur Wright probably never envisioned NASA when they were successful in their first flight at Kitty Hawk.  Nor did those responsible for televising the very first game 70 years ago envision the state of baseball viewing today.

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