Zoom is making its way from the office to the baseball broadcast.
Starting with the 2023 season, the technology will be integrated into baseball broadcasts on MLB Network and Apple TV+, allowing viewers to watch umpires connecting with the MLB replay operations center in Manhattan in an effort to provide transparency to fans in critical game moments.
"With instant replay, so many people have asked us 'what is actually going on?'" said MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden. "We hope that we can provide a glimpse to give a view of the communications on the field and between the umpires and the replay room."
Viewers will be able to watch the replay room go through different angles of any plays in question and be able to see who is communicating with umpires. Additionally, a rules analyst will discuss the reviews with the broadcast teams on MLB Network and Apple TV+.
Umpires will be given a tablet using Zoom so they can look into the replay room and see the technician they are speaking with. MLB is hoping to expand the look into the replay room beyond MLB Network and Apple TV+ in the future after a resolution on the Diamond Sports bankruptcy case.
"There's a lot going on with local broadcasts right now, and depending on how that pans out, we want to continue innovating on broadcasts," Garden said. "We're hoping to start smaller, and assuming it works out well, we think all fans should see this."
The partnership with Zoom fits into the larger vision MLB has to evolve the baseball broadcast.
As more games head to streaming services, MLB hopes to give fans more control over their streaming experience, similar to the existing MLB.tv feature of selecting a broadcast booth for a game. While Apple added advanced probability statistics to its broadcasts in 2022, MLB hopes to make more advanced statistics available if fans want.
"You don't want to throw it all out there for everyone because it can be overwhelming for people," Garden said. "We want to create an environment where everyone can personalize their experience and give them the tools to see the data of stealing or pitch probability, or if you want to lean back and watch the old-fashion way, you can do that."