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Prepared by Ira Gewanter and Ed Williams Updated 5/1/11

The Future of the Interactive Fan Experience: Social Media and Mobile Strategies for MLB

INTRODUCTION We are inspired by the tremendous strides MLBAM has made to enhance the fan experience through emerging digital technologies. MLBAM’s products reflect audiences’ shift from passively consuming media to actively engaging with it. This principle drives the success of platforms like MLB.com, MLB.TV, and the MLB.com At Bat app, which let fans tailor the baseball media they consume in ways that speak more directly to their individual interests and mobile lifestyles. The evolving relationship between audiences and media means baseball fans are ready to embrace new ways to interact with, and contribute to, the communal culture of the game they love. Our aim is to further cultivate the transition toward interactivity, while ensuring MLBAM and MLB maintain proprietary interest to grow revenue from this phenomenon. Our vision can increase brand equity while creating new revenue opportunities for advertising sales, sponsorships, promotions, and fan expenditures. Another benefit is that MLB entities will have greater capacity to gather personal and detailed fan market data. Fans will welcome these innovations for the same reasons they visit a ballpark instead of watching a game elsewhere: the opportunity to participate in each park’s unique and vibrant culture. This digital community will not have to disperse when real ballpark gates close. Fans can continually collect memorabilia and branded experiences well beyond their real ballpark visits. What follows are brief outline materials showcasing just a few of the many ways in which our innovative approach to digital community development could enhance and add to MLBAM’s existing programs. 1) THE CROWD, a repackaging of the nascent MLB-hosted digital community fortifying and encouraging a worldwide passion for baseball. 2) BALLPARK BUDDY, a partner mobile application serving as global liaison to the unique traditions of every Major League franchise, as expressed through each ballpark's culture.

CONCEPT FOR THE CROWD “Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to THE CROWD.” The lyrics to baseball’s classic song recognize the central role of the crowd in the fan experience. We firmly believe there are no better ambassadors for baseball’s appeal than other passionate baseball fans. This MLB-branded digital community will provide a platform for baseball fans of all types to maintain and strengthen their communal connections through the game. In step with the rapid growth of mobile connectivity, THE CROWD is instantly accessible anywhere. While other social networks host every imaginable type of conversation, THE CROWD is entirely baseballcentric. If social media is a party, THE CROWD is baseball’s VIP room. This is the premier place for fans to gather to simply engage in friendly conversation, comment on the latest Major League action, or create and share original content through forums, blogs, podcasts, art, music, film, creative writing, MLBsponsored contests and more. Our proposal streamlines the strengths of MyMLB.com Fan Profiles, MLBlogs, Fan Forums etc., rebranding them as a sleeker package with the benefit of increased accessibility and many additional features.

KEY FEATURES There is no CROWD without you! Your profile is your avatar for interacting with all THE CROWD has to offer, and can be accessed with only an MLB ID. Joining is a snap! Use your new or existing MLB account ID, or connect quickly by logging in with your Facebook or Twitter account. This also allows you to harness the power of external networks to easily find and invite friends, and share back-linking previews beyond THE CROWD. Ease of registration through connectivity with external networks ensures greater fan participation while allowing MLBAM to gather more comprehensive user statistics. Each member’s personal profile pageFig.2.1 displays subscription news feeds and status updates from friends, permitting more direct personal communication if desired, and acting as the member’s hub for personal information, settings, and access to features on THE CROWD. A prominent feature of THE CROWD is a fully customizable digital Scrapbook, incorporating Photoshopstyle layout editing options. Fans can display their favorite baseball memories via user-generated or found: audio, video, images, text and “virtual memorabilia” (redeemable for real-life tangible or experiential rewards). Virtual memorabilia is collected from participation in MLB activities and experiences, such as: 1. Enhanced Fan Forums, which host fan voting, charitable action, etc. One example is “A Call to Arms,” which gives fans the opportunity to organize new ballpark traditions (like gathering in the left-field stands during batting practice to cheer for Luke Scott). 2. Social Games and Contests including “Ballpark Scavenger Hunt,” a location-based social game played using wrist bands with implanted RFID1 chips and/or smartphones equipped with QR code2 readers to “tag up”3 at various destinations in the ballpark and beyond.

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 RFID-enabled bracelets extend CROWD participation allowing sans-smartphone members to check-in to ballpark landmarks and participate in location-based social games. THE CROWD homepage highlights coverage of all the best fan activity from around the world, much like MLB.com highlights the best coverage of league-wide activity on the ballfield. This fosters fan participation in all THE CROWD’s activities. The homepage also houses a toolbar to toggle view between individual team CROWD pages, which function as team-specific versions of the main homepage.

BOTTOM LINE (THE CROWD): By default, member profiles will host internal MLB/team ads and promotions. Members may opt-in to a model that allows MLBAM to sell ad space to outside advertisers on a pay-per-click basis. Profits will be shared between parties (inspired by Google Ads model).  MLBAM will earn profits while passing on a percentage and/or MLB.com Shop credit to the member.

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Crowd Competitions and other interactive features, such as fans’ Scrapbooks, allow MLB to provide publishing options to members. For example:   Members can purchase tangible copies of their Scrapbooks4. A “Battle of the Bands” can take on an American Idol-type role, allowing top-voted songs to be compiled into an album sold on iTunes/ CD.

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Fantasy Baseball will have a more active role across platforms, while remaining a free service that promotes an upgrade to Front Office.

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CONCEPT FOR BALLPARK BUDDY The BALLPARK BUDDY mobile application serves as an interactive guide, delivering all that each ballpark and its surrounding area have to offer. BALLPARK BUDDY’s appearance is designed to resemble a ballgame ticketFig.1.1. A ticket is exciting because it represents access to an experience at the ballpark. While a traditional paper ticket only has the capacity to display the day’s contest and seat purchased for viewing it, BALLPARK BUDDY’s “ticket” overcomes this limitation, providing instant access to the array of experiences available in the course of a ballpark visit. BALLPARK BUDDY provides customized information about activities, amenities, promotions, access to THE CROWD and destinations of special interest, thereby enhancing each fan’s experience.

KEY FEATURES Game-Day Information: Consists of a calendar with an expandable team schedule, respective starting rosters, updated in-game scores, an interactive scorecard for fans keeping score on their mobile devices, and MLB Gameday Preview articles. Personal Itinerary: Populated by user-selected events, activities, destinations, etc. Allows adding your own “to do’s” as well as “to do’s” suggested by BALLPARK BUDDY and by fellow members of your CROWD. Color-coding chronologically indicates an activity’s pre-game, in-game or post-game status. Interactive Menus: Relay experiences in the ballpark and surrounding areas and include instant access to: 1 Fan Services: Automated and live fan assistance via text message, instant message, phone and FAQ. Jumbotron Messaging could be a pay-per-message service, or free for messaging on secondary scoreboards. THE CROWD (Mobile)Fig.1.2: Normal CROWD features enhanced for mobile connectivity. Additional features unique to the mobile version include: a. Ballpark Beacon: Designed to announce your presence to other fans in your area while in attendance at the ballpark, but is not exclusive to the ballpark. Ballpark Beacon can advertise your whereabouts wherever you are, thereby fostering in-person fan connections. b. Catch & Share: Fans create instantaneous nostalgia by capturing and sharing photos, audio and video. Fans can also “pitch” status updates on THE CROWD. c. High Five: A feature allowing fans to “bump”5 phones to instantly add each other as friends on THE CROWD. 3 What’s Happening: Provides suggestions of what to do while visiting the ballpark and information pertaining to hospitality and tourism available in the ballpark’s surrounding area. Options may include special offers from area businesses and local destinations.

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Ballpark Guide: Searchable database listing everything in the ballpark by category, keyword, and price. Interactive photographs supplement personalized walking directions, guiding fans to nearest selected amenities and destinations. Other highlights include: a. Concessions: Complete food and beverage menus allow ordering in real-time. Purchases can be made via a password-protected “wallet” that stores credit card information. * b. Merchandise: Complete database of memorabilia and souvenirs available for purchase at Ballpark stores and kiosks, as well as online through the MLB.com Shop. *  NOTE: Upscale options may include in-seat delivery. When an order is placed, fans are assigned a space in a virtual line. Orders are temporarily added to fans’ itineraries along with a buzzing/beeping alarm to indicate pickup or delivery of purchase(s).

c. Ballpark Landmarks: Recommends historically relevant sites conveying each ballpark’s unique character. Fans can “tag up” to collect virtual memorabilia and unlock exclusive multimedia content pertaining to that landmark. 5 Ballpark Announcer: Real-time, in-game announcements (i.e. streaming broadcasts of teamcreated shows and insider news, or instant promotions like: “Mark Reynolds’ walk-off Grand Slam just knocked 15% off his jerseys in the team store today! Boo ya!”). Here, fans are also prompted to preview and/or purchase a digital copy of the team magazine, which will be especially valued by users with iPads and other tablet computers. My Tickets: A one-stop destination for all ticketing needs, which offers interactive seating charts and purchase options for paper and/or digital tickets (and includes a portal to Stub Hub). A realtime marketplace also allows fans to trade current seats for credit towards purchases of alternative seats at pro-rated prices. Free MLB.TV: Limited access to MLB.TV delivering in-game video for fans in attendance. This assures fans do not miss the action on the field while away from their seats, simultaneously acting as a preview of MLB.TV prompting a subscription purchase for full access.

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BOTTOM LINE (BALLPARK BUDDY): Social games will generate revenue from sponsorship and advertising. BALLPARK BUDDY acts as a joystick for enriched social gaming hosted on THE CROWD. The Personal Itinerary uses suggestions of what to do in and around the ballpark from the “What’s Happening” feature and THE CROWD. A Groupon-style model will increase ad revenue by encouraging local businesses to partner with teams to promote discounted “suggestions” to fans. BALLPARK BUDDY streamlines fan expenditures with stored credit card information. Features within the application deliver:    Instantaneous promotions based on game circumstances. Digital menus of concessions and merchandise. Personalized internal and third-party promotions drawn from preferences and fan data.

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Revenue available from a real-time ticketing exchange and innovative promotional in-game previews of MLB.TV are explained in greater detail immediately preceding this section [see “My Tickets” and “Free MLB.TV”, respectively].

BRAND BUILDING (THE CROWD and BALLPARK BUDDY): Providing interactive platforms for fans to celebrate each other and their love of baseball only deepens brand recognition and brand loyalty. The goal is for every fan to invest a portion of his or her self, earning the right to claim, “I celebrate this. I have memories here. This is where I belong.” Keeping fans continually engaged within a baseball context has positive long-term effects. Hosting fans at the virtual equivalent of a baseball buffet will entice them to indulge. From within THE CROWD, new Internet “celebrities” will emerge. These figures will hail from every imaginable background and serve as iconic representations of every type of baseball fan. More diverse faces attract more diverse fans, allowing for baseball sub-cultures and “brand tribes” to form. An additional benefit of BALLPARK BUDDY is its ability to generate interest in attending games before a fan has even opened the application. Its icon on the fan’s mobile device is color-coded to indicate whether a fan’s favorite team is playing a home game on any given day.

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ADDITIONAL NOTES AND RESOURCES
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QR codes are a type of two-dimensional barcode that can be read by cameras on mobile devices and coded to direct the device’s web browser to a specific web address. An experienced programmer could find a variety of imaginative uses for QR codes, including “tagging up.” For more on QR codes, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code. RFID chips are mentioned in reference to tagging up. “Radio-frequency identification is a technology that uses communication via radio waves to exchange data between a reader and an electronic tag attached to an object, for the purpose of identification and tracking” (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RFID). An interesting and similar use of RFID technology has been tested by Coca-Cola Village Amusement Park in Israel and documented here: http://www.psfk.com/2010/08/rfid-bracelet-brings-facebook-to-the-real-world.html. “Tagging up” is used above in reference to location-based social gaming. This action is roughly the equivalent to “checking in” on the popular social gaming application, Foursquare. To see a video describing more information on Foursquare, visit http://www.howcast.com/videos/386406-How-ToUnlock-Your-World-With-Foursquare. Publishing options for a variety of CROWD activity can be offered to members as a means of generating additional revenue. For a similar example from Apple’s iPhoto, visit http://www.apple.com/ilife/print-products.html. “Bumping” is a technique that allows for wireless transfer of information between mobile devices. To see a video illustrating one particular way this is done, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZudLSKaBgM.

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A sampling of images sketching a rough illustration of our vision has been attached to the final page of this document. Additional full-size images can be downloaded in a PDF (http://bit.ly/e4CD0v), and a more detailed outline is available upon request. For further information, please contact: Ira Gewanter ira.gewanter@gmail.com Ed Williams edbwms@gmail.com

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[Figure 1.1] BALLPARK BUDDY Blank Template

[Figure 1.2] BALLPARK BUDDY / THE CROWD (mobile)

[Figure 2.1] THE CROWD Profile Page

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