Apple has struck a multi-year deal with Major League Baseball that will see all teams use iPad Pro tablets inside their dugouts.
Instead of the usual paper notes, coaches and managers will now use a 12.9-inch iPad pre-loaded with a custom software called “MLB Dugout,” reported the Wall Street Journal. Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed the deal on CBS This Morning on Wednesday, calling it a natural complement for the analyzing of statistics and data related to the game.
“The visual, if you think about presenting the game, [is] about field managers walking into the dugout with big, thick folders of information. We now are going to have an iPad Pro, we think it makes the game more consonant with the way people live their lives, and it’s important for us,” Manfred said in the CBS interview.
The custom app will now give managers a chance to see performance statistics, access videos of past games, and look at specific pitcher-hitter matchups, according to the Journal.
What isn’t known is how much the Apple-MLB deal is worth, and how it compares to the $400 million-deal Microsoft signed with the NFL in 2013, of which a part of the agreement was to equip football coaches with a Surface tablet for their own play-by-play analysis. According to ESPN reporter Darren Rovell, Microsoft pays the NFL $80 million annually on the Surface tablet deal alone.
Apple will also have to ensure that its tablets don’t suffer from the intermittent (and embarrassing) hiccups encountered by Microsoft during the use of its tablets in the NFL. That includes announcers calling the Surface “iPads,” some Surfaces not working during key moments in NFL playoff games, and players throwing Surfaces to the ground (and even headbutting them) in frustration.