I absolutely love this idea by Major League Baseball.
Snapchat is expanding its partnership with Major League Baseball to include new features that bring users even closer to the field. The campaign will kick off with a special Spring training event on March 11th. Snapchat says for that day, users will have “unprecedented access” to professional baseball players as they contribute to an MLB Live Story, and they’ll be able to experience Spring training games from unique camera angles. That’s because for the first time, MLB players will be allowed to use smartphones in dugouts and bullpens, as well as a “SnapBat,” which Snapchat describes as a “bat selfie stick.” (It apparently won’t be used at home plate.)
Under a multi-year deal announced today, Snapchat will continue to provide coverage of opening day, the all star game, and the World Series, in addition to regular season games and events.
This is exactly what baseball needs. Of the four major sports, baseball has by far the least individual star power to market to young people (neither does hockey, but its fan base is rabid enough to make up for it). I wrote last year that baseball needed to embrace and incorporate technology as part of the game. This is a step in the right direction. Snapchat stories are terrific. I find myself spending more and more time in the app – friend me crossingbroad – checking out the curated stories of current events and the professionally produced Discover stories from major outlets like ESPN, MTV, Vox and more.
I’d go a step further if I were baseball, though. All sports, actually. Allow a league or team rep virtually unlimited access in the dugout, on the bench, in the locker room, and even on the field. NBC cameras go on the field after touchdowns. FOX cameras run down the line after home runs. Why not a social media guy? As John said on our most recent podcast – posting later – why not let fans ask athletes questions directly on Periscope or a live Facebook stream after games? [This would have the added benefit of irritating beat writers.]
The other night, during the FOX Republican debate, they did live Facebook streams during commercial breaks. I hopped in for one and saw an unexpectedly pleasant exchange between Donald Trump and FOX moderators. Baseball, more than any other sport, needs to do this type of thing. If it takes a broadcast rights partner, preserving their own interests, to do it, then so be it. Let FOX buoy its coverage with social media access for the World Series. Not token stuff– actual access. Trips to the mound. Bullpen calls. Players and coaches will hate it, but too bad. Fans are what allow them to make millions. This is the evolution of fandom.