With online video being so hot this year, one company that's getting attention is MLB Advanced Media, better known as MLB.com, the official site of Major League Baseball. The league's done far more to use the internet than have the other major sports, and it boasts an impressive number of users who pay for live streaming of games and stats packages. It claims to have revenue of $195 million in the last year, and its success can be attributed to a combination of an early start and a good job identifying what consumers want. A few years ago, there was some discussion of taking the company public, and with the big money showered on YouTube, there seems to be renewed interest in it. The league believes the property could be worth close to $5 billion. But this number seems based on the same kind of relative thinking that prompted one analyst to value MySpace between $10-$20 billion. Other than the fact that they both stream video, MLB.com is nothing like YouTube. YouTube offers a fresh way of consuming and sharing video, whereas MLB.com simply tries to replicate the TV experience over the computer. That may work fine for now, but it's going to keep having battles like the one against Sling as people seek to consume the content in different ways. For the site to thrive, it can't get comfortable with its early success; it needs to keep experimenting and trying new things, just as it did when it first launched.
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