Can you stream me now?


Major League Baseball Advanced Media is second to none when it comes to innovation and setting trends not only within the sports realm, but also digital media advancement as a whole.  In 2000, all 30 Major League Baseball clubs unanimously voted to create a separate entity that would house all digital media services for the entire league and MLBAM was born.  Being home to MLB technology, digital information, and online ticketing services, MLBAM has been able to create, web streaming services and a variety of mobile applications for smart phone and tablet devices.  All of which can be used by fans to get up to the minute scores, highlights and a variety of audio and video coverage of MLB games.

The next venture for MLBAM is now the recent partnership with Qualcomm, a leader in next-generation wireless technologies, to improve mobile access and performance at MLB Ballparks.  The idea is that ballparks will now extend the limits of digital expectations and the ability to maintain a mobile infrastructure that will meet fan expectations during their ballpark experience.  A major part of this agreement is the engineering team representing this partnership will assess and plan for increased access at select ballparks over the next two years.

Now for the spoiler alert – while increasing data demand by an impressive 1000x, MLBAM’s partnership with Qualcomm is already behind the times.  This feat has not only been undertaken by Santa Clara Stadium, but is already in the process of being implemented for the 49ers opening season in their new facility.  Not only will Santa Clara Stadium have a capacity of 68,500, but it will also provide simultaneous wireless connectivity to every single one of those individuals; without any limits on downloads or uploads.

This was primarily possible as a result of the efforts of Santa Clara Stadium’s CTO Kunal Malik and Senior IT Director Dan Williams; neither of whom have conventional sports technology backgrounds.  Instead, they spent five years at Facebook building what is currently one of the largest and most efficient website networks in the world.  The idea behind their undertaking is that Santa Clara Stadium will provide around a terabit of capacity while providing the experiences that users would more commonly receive with long-term evolution (LTE) services.  The issue with most stadium designs today is what Dan Williams calls sub-optimal locations for wireless access points and the addition of more of these access points doesn’t necessarily generate more signal strength.  In a manner to overcome the obstacles that traditionally hinder Wi-Fi access in stadiums and arenas, Santa Clara Stadium will evenly distribute these points around the stadium in a format that will efficiently provide the same wireless signal to all stadium guests.  While specific information as to how this network will be established is proprietary, it seems fair to say that Major League Baseball Advanced Media has some catching up to do.