HBO is the most popular pay TV provider in the United States. To make sure it stays that way, the company has turned to an unlikely streaming video partner, MLBAdvanced Media (MLBAM). This same company could also play a role in Apple’s upcoming TV video streaming service, according to TechCrunch.
I love watching HBO, but I dont like paying for it. Instead, I get my Game of Thrones and Veep fix by using a family members HBO Go account. (With her permission, of course)
Streaming HBO content on an iPad or Apple TV is usually an enjoyable process until it isnt.
Last spring, high demand brought HBO Go to its knees twice: on March 9, 2014, when the season finale of True Detective aired, and on April 14 when the new season of Game of Thrones began.
On April 12, winter is once again coming as the fifth season of Game of Thrones debuts. Next month also marks the arrival of HBO Now, a new streaming video service from the pay TV leader for those without a cable or satellite subscription. The service launches exclusively on Apple TV in the coming weeks.
By contracting with MLBAM, HBO is hoping to avoid the type of problems it faced last year.
As TechCrunch notes:
So, HBO had to make a choice, either find a way to massively scale its streaming infrastructure or find someone else who could do it for them. They went outside, to the entity quickly becoming a go-to streaming problem solver for the media world: Major League Baseball.
What is MLBAM? They are a technical arm of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) media efforts. They handle MLBs website, all of its game streaming enterprises, and its various mobile apps, such as MLB.com At Bat.MLBAM is also the technical muscle behind WatchESPN.
MLBAM currently has around 850 employees, up from 600 in 2012. It streamed 26 billion minutes of video in 2014 and shipped 390 petabytes to consumers from its infrastructure, which includes six data centers across the US.
In 2014 alone, it streamed 400k hours of live content in 2009 that number was only 18k hours.
MLBAM had around $800M in revenue in 2014 and is projected to hit $1B in 2016.
Though MLBAM CEO Bob Bowman wouldn’t confirm to TechCrunch that they were working with Apple on Cupertino’snew video streaming service, he did say this:
Wed be honored to be part of anything, really. Apples been our partner from day one, and while I dont know Tim Cook, we obviously know Eddie and Phil.
What people forget is how long theyve been together, and how well theyve been running the company. I think everybody would do a lot of things to be partners with Apple, but its hard to imagine theres anything technologically we could bring to Apple.
One new product that has been confirmed by Bowman is an MLB.com At Bat app for Apple Watch.“Hopefully, it looks cool and neat and the watch itself, theres ways to dig deeper. Whenyou move it, you might just getan update, but when you punch it a couple times, itll dig a little deeper,”he said.
The new app is expected to launch next month alongside the Apple Watch, which becomes available on April 24.
As a reminder, HBO Nowwill cost $14.99/month; if you subscribe in April, youll get the first month for free. Apple’s TV video streaming service could be announced in June, and introduced this fall.