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MiLB, MLBAM Reach New Video Agreement For Social Media

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Before long, all Minor League Baseball teams are going to receive a memo from the league office spelling out guidelines and best practices for posting highlights during and after minor league games.

But MiLB is adamant that this memo will not be an attempt to prevent or significantly limit teams from posting highlights to their social media feeds.

“Our goal in this is we want the most reach for our content to the most fans possible,” said Katie Davison, MiLB’s senior vice president for digital strategy and business development.

The memo stems from a new formalized agreement between MiLB and Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which has long been the rightsholder for MiLB videos. As part of their agreement, MLBAM sells the MiLB.tv package, which allows fans to purchase the rights to see full game broadcasts of minor league games.

When MiLB’s Baseball Internet Rights Corporation and MLBAM first signed the rightsholder agreement a decade ago, posting video on social media was not yet a possibility and was not mentioned in the agreement. While teams have posted highlight videos on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram in recent years, there was nothing in MiLB and MLBAM’s contract that officially allowed teams to do so.

This offseason, MiLB and MLBAM came to a new agreement that codified what minor league teams are officially allowed to post in terms of videos of in-game action to social media sites.

The new memo, expected to be sent out in the next week to 10 days, will say that teams can post highlights and other videos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram without any concerns that they are going to draw the ire of the video’s rightsholder. There are unspecified limits to where teams can post the highlights, and it is worth noting that after regularly posting highlights to YouTube in past years, MiLB has not posted any highlights on YouTube this season.

The guidelines will also spell out limits and best practices, although MiLB would not spell out explicitly what those limits will be. With broadcasts being part of a subscriber package (MiLB.tv), it’s a safe assumption that teams will not be allowed to Facebook Live or post on Twitter a full-game broadcast, because that would be seen as damaging the MiLB.tv product. Multiple MiLB officials said that teams will be free to post highlights—if Wander Franco hits a home run, MiLB wants its teams posting that video.

Along those lines, MiLB officials said they are working to help provide additional help for teams to edit and post video highlights more easily this year. At the MiLB office level, there’s also the intent to gather and then send back highlight packages to teams for use on their video boards and on their websites, something MiLB president Pat O’Conner mentioned in an interview with Baseball America in December.

“Our strategy at the national level is to collect all that, aggregate all that content, package it and push it back to our clubs so their video boards and websites are better,” O’Conner said.

“There is some organization to it, but it’s a better quality product. Then we push it out to social media. From the central office, we are developing an overarching strategy that allows the clubs to send us stuff and to receive content from us to enhance the gameday experience.”

MLBAM significantly upgraded MiLB.tv this season, as most games are now broadcast in high definition, after being limited to low-resolution broadcasts in the past. Videos are no longer flash-based either, which has led to less technical issues and speedier loading times.

MiLB’s First Pitch app has also been upgraded for 2019, although its rollout has been much rockier. In the long run, MiLB is attempting to make the new app speedier than its old app, but currently several features have been lost in the process, most notably box scores on the scoreboard page. MiLB said that they are working on returning functionality that has been lost in the upgrades.

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