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When Apple announced the new iteration of it’s venerable cash cow, the iPhone 3GS, it did so emphasizing the speed of the device, capable of delivering faster web pages, loading applications in a snap, and, at least in the future, capable of utilizing AT&T’s faster mobile internet network.

Another feature that will no doubt take advantage of the upgraded horsepower will be streaming video, and because we know these MLB New Media Goons are ahead of the technology curve, Apple promptly partnered with MLB Advanced Media to showcase the live video delivery capabilities of the ubiquitous machine with its latest version of the MLB At Bat iPhone application.

And to complete this delicious new media menage a trois, AT&T gave MLBAM the exclusive right to stream live video via its 3G cellular network, a right previously denied to applications such as Skype and Slingplayer (remember them?).

This is where it gets hairy. It’s no secret that Apple’s extremely restrictive application approval process has been contradictory in giving the green light to certain kinds of applications while rejecting other, very similar ones. But now that AT&T is wanting to play VIP with MLBAM, it raises another set of questions.

AT&T denied Slingplayer access to its 3G network for video streaming saying it would clog up its 3G network, so why give the MLB New Media Goons the full spread?

From CNET:

But now AT&T is allowing MLB to do exactly what it would not allow Sling to do, which is stream live broadcast TV over its 3G cellular network onto iPhones. So what gives? Is AT&T playing favorites?

That’s exactly what Ben Scott, policy director for the advocacy group Free Press, thinks. The group issued a statement Thursday expressing its concern over what it sees as an inconsistent policy.

“We are troubled that carriers like AT&T are playing gatekeeper to the next generation of wireless Internet applications,” Scott said in a statement. “No Internet service provider should be allowed to pick winners and losers online.”

Two things: First, Net Neutrality

Up until this point, the Net Neutrality battle (remember kids, same Internet for all) was being fought on the Cable companies’ turf, in which Big Cable’s bandwidth cap threats could’ve impacted MLB’s own broadband hog, MLB.tv, but AT&T’s contradictory policy towards the MLB At Bat application seems to indicate that it will also have to be addressed on the mobile web.

(An interesting side note, MLB Advanced Media has been a busy little new media whore. Just a few days ago, Boxee, the media center that allows you to hook up your computer to your HDTV and watch TV shows and movies, announced that the alpha version of its software will give MLB.tv subscribers a way to watch games through Boxee on their TVs.)

Second (and here’s my conspiracy angle)

It’s quite curious to note that the kid not invited to the party is Sling Media, the maker of the Slingplayer application for the iPhone.  If you all remember, MLB has once before targeted Sling, which allows you to setup a box at home, and stream your cable or satellite service (or your shiny new public digital TV signal) over the internet to your laptop or mobile phone. Yes, you can stream your Sling connection to your iPhone, but it has to be done through a Wi-Fi connection (which necessitates a hot spot and not AT&T’s much wider 3G network).

Of course, MLB is not getting the double dip in broadcast rights once you stream the home team’s game when you’re away from home. And so you see, in my humble opinion at least, Bud Selig and his New Media Goons are getting AT&T to give them the 3G buffet while at the same time, Mamma Bell kicks Sling Media to the curve.

Full circle

Remember who bought Sling Media? Echo Star, the parent company for Dish Network, which never got a piece of the MLB Extra Innings pie.

Conclusion?

Clearly MLB Advanced Media is spreading its tentacles to as many areas of technology as it can. That is a good thing. But there seem to be some shady shenanigans going on behind the scenes. And what I don’t like is the fact that we have to keep paying an arm and a leg just to watch some baseball.

One Response to “Apple, AT&T and MLB Advanced Media’s ménage à trois”

  1. Always remember that MLB Advanced Media hates you and wants to screw you over whenever possible. They’re in this to squeeze out every penny they can, not to make your baseball-watching life a pleasant one.

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