Q&A

Charlie Rose Talks to MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman


“We’ve tried to avoid some deals that don’t make sense and wait for the right moment”

Photograph by Mike Segar/Reuters

“We’ve tried to avoid some deals that don’t make sense and wait for the right moment”

What’s the relationship between the company and Major League Baseball?
The owners each own one-thirtieth. There are 30 teams, so they each own 3.3 percent. … Whatever the value of [our company] is, they take the sum valuation, divide by 30, and add it to the franchise value of each team. … If you’re the commissioner of baseball, that’s not trivial. You’re trying to add franchise value.
 
So your contribution is what?
We’re now 650 people. Half are in technology. Almost 33 percent are reporters. We have the largest sports reporting staff almost anywhere in the world, with the exception of ESPN (DIS). … We’ll do 20,000 live streams this year, 5,000 in baseball. We do the back-end stream, live streaming for a lot of other entities, including CBS Sports (CBS) at times, ESPN at times.
 
And you can sit there and watch at the game?
We’re spending, along with our partners at T-Mobile (TMUS), AT&T (T), and Verizon, hundreds and hundreds of millions to “wire the stadiums” so we have a good signal there. So if you see a bang-bang play and you want to see it again on your phone, you can.
 
Is it content you’re creating, or is it simply content that’s happening in the stadium?
We’re repurposing.
 
Repurposing?
You might see it from a different angle. You go to a baseball game. … It’s great theater. The best athletes in the world, in my opinion, playing this great game. But you miss things.
 
Do you think of baseball as a game suited for the tech age?
We do. Because we play every day. If you’re a Yankees fan, and they play 162 times, you can’t get to Yankee Stadium 81 times a year. … So if you have five minutes and you’re between meetings or you’re waiting for an elevator, you’re sitting in your car, you’re at your church, your synagogue, you’re picking up your kids at school, you open up your mobile phone, get a score, get an update. Maybe see a highlight. So, it’s pretty well suited for this digital age and for this mobile age.
 
Is one of your strengths that you’re a great negotiator?
In the Internet space, if you’re two years early it doesn’t do any good. … If you’re six months late, you’re in trouble.
 
You mean your timing is good.
I think we’ve had the patience to wait for the right deal. And we own the content, right? It’s owned by baseball. And so we’re not leasing it. So we’re not in a rush to do a bad deal. We’ve tried to avoid some deals that don’t make sense and wait for the right moment and the right kind of deal.
 
And so, if you want to have access to all this brilliance, it’ll cost you, what, $100 a year?
Yeah. We think, you know, for $100 [you get] 2,430 games, which is how many regular-season games there are. And you do home and away feeds and you get all these real-time stats and things like that. It’s barely $100 a year. It’s one of the best values you could ever find.

Watch Charlie Rose on Bloomberg TV weeknights at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET.

Emmy Award-winning journalist Charlie Rose is the host of Charlie Rose, the nightly PBS program.

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