- By Alex Gaw
- March 27, 2023
Major League Baseball (MLB) and Zoom Video Communications are teaming up in a first-of-a-kind partnership that designates Zoom as the new official unified communications (UC) platform of the league and the presenting partner of MLB replay review for broadcast look-ins, powering new elements of league games and broadcasts for game officials and fans alike, both organizations say.
Starting with the 2023 season, the crew chief—the most senior member of the four-man umpire crew—will be able to connect to Zoom’s replay operations center and see which replay is being viewed at the control center when a call is contested. On the field, umpires will be able to watch videos of the replay on an Apple iPad Pro tablet, which will be brought out by a technician during the games.
The Zoom center, in effect, links the umpires to the replay operations team for MLB to view plays on the field. Just as it was before, however, the video replay umpire at the control center gets to make the final call. During the games last season, 1,434 reviews took place that included 1,261 challenges, with 50.2% leading to overturned calls.
The new setup differs from the league’s previous replay review process, which relied on disparate technologies and audio-only communication with umpires on the field. MLB says the new viewing method aims to create a more transparent and engaging process.
Another difference with the new setup is that replay reviews and interactions over Zoom will be available for fans to watch during national television broadcasts of the games on licensed channels of the franchise—in this case, on the MLB Network Showcase and Apple TV+ telecasts. Fans will also hear from an expert rules analyst, who will discuss the replay reviews with the broadcast team.
Zoom will be used by the league as well on Day One of the 2023 MLB First-Year Player Draft to deliver sensitive information on which players get picked via conference call among the 30 Major League Clubs.
Based in San Jose, California, and launched in 2011, Zoom was increasingly used by MLB teams during the pandemic, replacing in-person media availability for players and managers for much of 2021 and 2022. The company’s all-in-one collaboration Zoom platform is integrated across several MLB clubs, platforms, and broadcast outlets. In addition to Zoom meetings, many MLB teams use Zoom phone to stay connected with colleagues and customers, as well as Zoom contact center to deliver personalized CX to fans. The MLB corporate offices use Zoom meetings, Zoom rooms, Zoom phone, and Zoom webinar services to connect, collaborate, and communicate.
The new deal with MLB, the world’s oldest major professional sports league, represents a major achievement for Zoom, whose videoconferencing software surged in usage during the pandemic as quarantine measures were implemented throughout the world. In October 2021, however, Zoom suffered a big setback after its $14.7 billion deal to acquire cloud contact center Five9 collapsed at the 11th hour, scuttled by Five9 shareholder concerns over Zoom’s low stock price. Five months after the Five9 fiasco, Zoom in February 2022 released its own cloud contact center solution, which featured video optimization and unified communications capabilities.
Related Article: Zoom Launches New Contact Center CX Offering
Chris Marinak, the MLB chief operations and strategy officer, says the league is excited to be working with Zoom. “We are always looking for innovative ways to leverage best-in-class technology to advance the MLB experience and deliver more to our fans,” Marinak asserts. “Partnering with Zoom, a category leader that reinvented the way we connect, was a natural next step for us.”
Janine Pelosi, Zoom chief marketing officer, says the partnership is important. “Zoom’s rapid pace of innovation and obsession with making human connection easier and better is crucial to help MLB evolve its experience and deliver unprecedented transparency and access to its fans,” Pelosi declares. “With MLB leveraging Zoom Contact Center and Zoom’s all-in-one collaboration platform, we are able to truly show the world how a historical brand can continue to innovate and unlock new possibilities.”
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