(with David Kaplan) The day-to-day business of Yahoo continues despite the headlines ... Yahoo and Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced a complicated deal that gives the portal video sales for MLB.TV, co-branding for the MLB.TV player, access to MLB.TV through Yahoo Sports, and a cut of MLB.TV subscription sales generated by Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO). Through the rest of the 2008 season, Yahoo and MLBAM will be co-selling video for MLB.TV but for the two following seasons Yahoo exclusively will sell that inventory. Live and VOD full-game streaming will be available directly through Yahoo Sports but users must have an MLB.TV subscription; some other baseball video will be available free.
In an interview, Yahoo Sports GM Jimmy Pitaro stressed MLBAM's continued control over the actual subscriptions sales and the video player. Yahoo will be the only site co-branding with MLB.TV, he said, and the co-branding for the player will be the same across both properties regardless of whether it's popping up from Yahoo Sports or MLB.com. Yahoo and MLB will share ad revenues and Yahoo will get some revenue for subscription sales but, opf course, no one wants to talk actual numbers.
This should be an opportunity for MLBAM to expand subscriptions to MLB.TV, which has more than 1 million subs since the premium product launched in 2002. Premium subscriptions for out-of-market games at either 800k or 1.2MB run $119.95 a year or $19.95 a month; a lower-res version is $89.95 a year or $14.95 a month. Some more details:
-- Ad sales: At Yahoo, the deal involves both Yahoo Sports and the Yahoo Publishers Channel. On the ad front, Yahoo and MLBAM will jointly sell advertising for the video inventory during the first year. Yahoo is bring a mix of resources to bear on the MLBAM ad sales, including its video ad format Clickable and traditional pre-roll and post-roll will also be used that first year. For the latter two years, Yahoo will handle the ad sales on its own. Yahoo is also taking the opportunity to tout its AMP ad inventory management system to serve the ads. Yahoo has been testing AMP and plans to roll it out in full by Q3.
-- MLB.TV: Yahoo Sports can now offer subscription access to a total of 2,400 out-of-market games each year, live and on-demand, through the 2010 season from MLB.TV. It will be available in 11 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, U.K., Philippines and Germany. Free content includes MLB.com's FastCast (highlights-based recap of the previous day's games) and can use some MLB.com video content within Yahoo Sports' original programming.
By Staci D. Kramer