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MLB Mosaic: Something For The Superfans

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It is an impressive service. Tailor-made for the superfan, the fantasy junkie. But watching *six* games at once, really?

This afternoon, Major League Baseball brought in a gaggle of reporters to the headquarters of its MLB Advanced Media unit in New York's Meatpacking District to show off the souped-up version of its premium online video service, [MLB Mosaic](http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/subscriptions/download.jsp), powered by a company called Ensequence, which just reupped its contract for another three years (the news hook).

MLB.TV and the Mosaic product are not new (Mosaic's already won an Emmy!), but this year they made some significant improvements to the service -- new features, higher quality video, offering all the games in 16:9 aspect ratio, etc. The service offers live feeds from the regional broadcasts of every baseball game being played, and the different views allow users to configure the layout to show six screens, four screens, three or just one.

In addition to feeding us, the good folks at MLB hooked up the laptop to what looked to be about a 56" flat screen to show just how good the image quality is.

"What we do today is not quite live TV, but it's getting close," said Bob Bowman, president and CEO of MLB Advanced Media.

The premium subscription service ($119.95/year, or $19.95/month) archives games within hours of their conclusion, so if you missed last night's game and manage to sequester yourself to prevent learning the outcome, you can watch it on-demand at work.

Other bells and whistles include a full complement of options for tracking fantasy players, configurable alerts for when something important happens in another game and real-time scoring updates from around the league.

Last season closed with 400,000 subscribers, with an increasing proportion opting for the premium service. (MLB offers a basic service for $89.95/year with streaming limited to 400k with only one game available for viewing at a time. Premium streams come at 800k or 1.2M.)

In defending the subscription model, Bowman comes through with an interesting take on what's become a reflex in explaining the business model of just about any online venture these days:

"'Advertising-supported' seems to be the vernacular today, but that's going to run its course," he said.

So MLB Mosaic is not ad-supported. But what about the time between innings, when broadcasters cut to commercial? If the screens just went blank, that would be kind of dull, right? MLB recently inked a deal with Yahoo to serve ads on Mosaic -- just in between innings. And hey, if you don't want to watch them, there are five other games you can focus on.

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