With 3M downloads, MLB app hits it out of the park

Gigaom

Just a week into Major League Baseball’s 2012 season, the league’s official mobile app is breaking records. MLB.com At Bat 12, which lets fans check scores and highlights and stream their favorite games live to a mobile device, passed 3 million downloads on Wednesday, the league’s Advanced Media office announced Thursday. Last year’s version of At Bat didn’t reach the same mark until more than four months into the 2011 season.

The 3 million downloads are spread across most major smartphone platforms: Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone. But still, those are impressive numbers. Not Instagram-on-Android kind of numbers (1 million downloads in a day), but Instagram is free.

One of the more fascinating things about At Bat’s success this season is that we’re talking about an app that costs $14.99 if you want it to do anything other than show you game scores. And if you want to use it to its full potential — live stream out-of-market games to your phone or tablet — you need to also pay for the MLB.TV package, which costs $110 or $125 per year. (Those who sign up for the pricier package get the mobile app for free.) And, of course, this is an app that essentially expires when the last out of the 2012 World Series is made.

MLB’s office of Advanced Media has had the video streaming and mobile game figured out far longer any of its American peers in professional sports. But why is this season off to such a hot start? There are a few things users will notice that are different: a more polished look and feel, and the in-app purchase option to upgrade to a variety of different packages.

But At Bat’s success is a great example of what can happen when you combine in-demand content with a fan base that has access to high-speed mobile networks and who carry smartphones and tablets.

A few more stats from MLB about At Bat:

  • Since baseball season officially began April 5, MLB’s mobile apps have seen an average of 800,000 live streams — that’s audio and video combined — per day.
  • At Bat is the top-downloaded iOS sports app ever.
  • At Bat 2012 been the top-downloaded sports app for Android devices for 43 straight days.

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