Major League Baseball is building an in-game chat system for the times. While its MLB.TV live video service had some 500,000 subscribers last year, only an average 18 people per game used the built-in chat feature. Not good enough.
So MLB.com is throwing out their old chat system and building a new one. And since we’re closely following their MLB.TV development this spring, we want you to help.
Read the objectives and add your ideas to comments, or email them to [email protected] Send us mockups or wireframes. We’ll mention the best ones to MLB management during the next meeting we attend.
What’s the point? MLB.TV’s chat has two main purposes: To engage viewers so they spend more time watching games, commercials, etc. And to serve as a marketing tool so MLB.TV subscribers can alert their friends that they’re watching a game — which could potentially increase new subscriber sign-ups.
What do they want to build? More than a typical Web chat room, which is what they had before, and no one was using.
Having sat in MLB.TV meetings, we see that the league is into the ideas of using Facebook and/or Twitter as part of its chat system, and is particularly intrigued by CNN.com’s use of Facebook during its live coverage of the inauguration. Facebook says CNN published more than 2 million status updates in its live feed that day. That’s not going to happen for every baseball game. But we’re sure that more than 18 people have something to say about each game that’s going on. Figuring out how to integrate that during a live game is the trick.
What are the limitations? We can’t think of any beyond time and budget. And it has to be useful: Thousands of people shooting off about a game at the same time — so fast you can’t keep up — isn’t going to help.
What else? We like the idea of a chat system that we could use in the MLB.com iPhone app (or via Facebook or Twitter apps) while we’re watching the game (in fullscreen mode) on our Mac or TV.
We also like what Sling Media is going to be doing with Facebook Connect — alerting your friends what you’re watching on Sling.com and how to join. Such as: “Doug is watching “60 Minutes” on Sling.com. Watch along: http://sling.com/t/93559/81.”
We’ll leave the rest up to you.