T-Mobile USA has signed on as the wireless company for Major League Baseball providing both on-field and (in some cases) in-stadium communications, as part of a multi-year agreement, the league’s first with a wireless carrier in more than a decade.
“We were exploring opportunities to find properties that would help us showcase our network,” Mike Belcher, director of media and marketing partnerships, tells Marketing Daily. “Baseball provided a unique opportunity to provide something that [would become] part of the game.”
Through the agreement, T-Mobile will provide the league with a new on-field communications system (using the company’s 4G network) that will connect managers in certain dugouts with the coaches in the bullpen. “We want to respect [baseball’s] purity and its heritage that’s rich in tradition,” Belcher says. “[But] they’ve had challenges with their existing landline system, and it’s impacted some games. We’ll start out with very simple communications. As coaches or players get into it, we’ll look into delivering real time stats into the dugout.
In addition, T-Mobile will also use its network to enhance network capability for fans in MLB ballparks. T-Mobile will also work with MLB Advanced Media to enrich the experience of its popular At Bat App on T-Mobile-powered smartphones and tablets with exclusive content and promotions for T-Mobile customers.
“Baseball is so rich in data, it’s the number one digitally consumed sport,” Belcher says. “It’s a challenge across all sports to be able to improve the service so consumers and fans in the game are able to get content to their phones and tablets while they’re watching the game.
As part of the marketing agreement, T-Mobile is also working with the league’s broadcast partners, Fox, Turner, MLB Network and ESPN on promotional opportunities. The brand has already secured sponsorship rights to ESPN’s Wednesday Night Baseball broadcasts.
All told, the partnership is intended to represent T-Mobile, the nation’s fourth-largest wireless company, as a brand that can be at the forefront of marrying technology and tradition. “As our brand moves forward, we’re trying to be that ‘un-carrier’ in the industry,” Belcher says. "Baseball is showing something with T-Mobile that they chose (us). That says a lot about our brand and a lot about our network.”