The announcement yesterday that Sling Media’s player for the iPhone would be allowed to stream television content via AT&T’s 3G cellular network, comes as a somewhat ho-hum conclusion to the soap opera that is MLB’s involvement in the new media arena.
Up until this point, AT&T had refused to allow third party apps access to its cellular data network for streaming audio or video. Anyone but Major League Baseball Advance Media that is. Now, thanks in part to the FCC, AT&T has relented.
From Wired’s Epicenter blog:
FCC pressure forced AT&T to allow VoIP onto the iPhone, and fear of similar pressure in the media streaming area could have affected its decision about Sling. (AT&T already allowed Major League Baseball to stream, as The New York Times points out, providing ammunition for Sling and consumer groups who complained to the FCC that AT&T’s refusal to support Sling was discriminatory.)
The about-face doesn’t really impact a whole lot of people. In order for you to stream games through your home TV service of choice, you have to own a Sling Player and the $30 iPhone app (a luxury in it’s own right), but arguably, the ability to by-pass MLB’s own iPhone app and still watch games on Apple’s money generator exists. Sure, AT&T’s crappy network means the quality of the audio and video will be much less than if you streamed through WiFi, but the same is true for MLB’s At Bat app.
Putting the conspiracy angle to rest, I’ve always thought this whole mess goes back to the infamous DirecTV-MLB Extra Innings exclusive deal since Echo Star, parent company of Dish Network, didn’t get a slice of MLB’s deal with Cable and DirecTV. Echo Star acquired Sling Media a few months afterward.