Major League Baseball has hit another Internet home run.


Its newest client is the pro beach volleyball tour operated by Los Angeles-based AVP Inc., which hopes to spike its profile with an upgraded Web site that will feature live streaming video of all of its events.


MLB Advanced Media LP, the company established in 2002 by baseball owners to pioneer streaming Internet broadcasts of all of its games, will operate the AVP site. Dinn Mann, editor in chief of MLB.com, said he and his colleagues got the idea when they attended an AVP event at Coney Island last year.


"What we saw at the beach presented a great online opportunity," said Mann. The volleyball tour executives agreed.


"We can get significantly more exposure and have an opportunity to have our video go virally," said Leonard Armato, the tour's chief executive and commissioner.


The tour last year drew an average of more than 50,000 spectators to each of its three- to four-day events. This will be the final season on the tour for popular veteran Karch Kiraly, which should boost fan interest. While the live attendance number is expected to grow, MLB and AVP are expecting the online audience its site drew 300,000 unique users monthly last year to explode.


"We would be disappointed if their traffic didn't double from last year," said Mann. "It's a sport that translates phenomenally well to digital media."


Advanced Media has turned into a goldmine for Major League Baseball.


The company's founders quickly realized that the technology powering their Web site could be readily applied to other sports and entertainment events. It has expanded to other non-baseball initiatives and now provides the support for Major League Soccer and coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament online for CBS. It generates more than $40 million in non-baseball related revenue annually and more than $260 million in annual revenues. Investment banks looking into a potential IPO in 2004 put the value of the company at more than $2 billion.


In addition to streaming the matches, the volleyball Web site will offer online ticketing, merchandising opportunities, mobile phone applications, detailed statistics and original material.


Sports Stars

Gersh Sports, the sports division of entertainment talent agency Gersh Agency, marked its one-year anniversary by adding a baseball division.


Joseph C. Longo and Matt Walker, formerly principals at Paragon Sports Management, were hired as division head/sports representative and vice president of business development, respectively.

Prev

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.