Baseball makes Real Web play

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MLB Advanced Media, Major League Baseball's interactive unit, has struck a multi-year deal making RealNetworks the exclusive platform for live pay audio webcasts of all MLB games, and an on-demand video highlight service.

Live audio webcasts for all regular season MLB games will be available by subscription for $9.95 over the entire season through MLB.com, according to an MLB spokesman. Fans buying the audio package get a $9.95 coupon for the MLB store. RealNetworks will offer a $4.95 monthly package of MLB audio twinned with NBA games and other sports content.

MLB also will offer several daily video highlights for free, and an additional package of video clips available starting May 1 for a fee to be announced. Under terms of the pact, all multimedia Internet content offerings from MLB.com will be provided exclusively in RealNetworks' formats.

The move marks a turnaround for Major League Baseball, which has been the least aggressive of the major professional sports leagues in putting content on the Web. It formed the advanced media unit last season, in the wake of taking over Web content rights from the teams. MLB also unveiled a deal for Virage to provide video search services on the MLB site. Terms of the two deals were not disclosed.
- Richard Tedesco

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