Part of BAM’s success in winning third-party business comes down to a lack of obvious competition. Twitch TV, a company that streams video games live, attracts enormous audiences, but—at least to Bowman’s knowledge—it is not out there seeking third-party business. A lot of content owners try to build and develop their own streaming TV platforms, but “the people who hire us are the people who want to make money, because it’s a complicated process,” he says.

BAM’s first third-party streaming client was ESPN. Another notable win was the Blaze TV online network founded by Glenn Beck, a provocative right-wing pundit. And BAM is now providing the back-end technology for a “virtual” pay TV service Sony is currently developing. Not much is yet known about the product, but in a recent interview with Deadline, Bowman gave a hint about what it might look like:

It will be the linear feeds of the networks. I’m not party to the conversations Sony is having with the networks. But whatever’s on that network, we’re going to capture, encode, and deliver to devices [that are] inside the home already: the PS3, the PS4, and the Blu-ray player…They have an installed base in the tens of millions. That’s obviously going to be their target environment.

Such a service could shake up the industry quite a bit. It would make Sony the first notable device manufacturer to start selling an internet pay TV service, perhaps paving the way for Apple to do the same.

But another reason BAM’s growing influence matters is that sports coverage is crucial to the survival of existing pay-TV businesses. These companies depend heavily on bundling—i.e., making consumers pay for a package of channels of which they may actually watch only a few. Live sports are often among the “must-watch” channels in a bundle. And as consumers increasingly demand—and obtain—TV on-demand over the internet, it undermines the bundling model.

That’s why BAM doesn’t currently stream games in a subscriber’s home area. Ending that “blackout policy” would jeopardize lucrative deals between local TV networks and baseball teams. Still, Bowman is hopeful that it won’t be long before local broadcast restrictions are removed and all baseball matches will be available on, no matter where a viewer is located.

Given BAM’s significance as an emerging player in television, Bowman’s thoughts on the future of the medium carry considerable weight. ”In the end, the pay TV model’s not going anywhere, cable is going to exist, satellite is going to exist,” he tells Quartz. “But I think what WWE is showing is, and what MLB is showing us is, you have to have some over-the-top [i.e., internet TV] content. It may be extra, it may be sliding in as a supplementary, complimentary, but you have to have an over-the-top strategy, because there are going to be increasing numbers of people who are [internet TV] only.”

For love of the game

It’s ironic that America’s oldest and most tradition-rich sport is the most innovative when it comes to television and the internet. But baseball is also the American sport best suited to the internet, and to mobile devices in particular. There are more games in a regular season (each team plays 162 regular season games, for a total of 2430 games, excluding playoffs), which makes it nigh-on impossible to watch all of them. So it’s perfect for on-demand streaming and mobile access.

The nature of the sport—its quantifiable number of outcomes and lengthy history—also makes it well suited to statistical analysis, the other pillar of BAM’s products. The game has spawned countless data obsessives, from the writer Jack Kerouac, to Bill James and the Oakland A’s manager he inspired, Billy Beane (of Moneyball fame) and most recently Nate Silver, founder of the journalism site FiveThirtyEight.

Other sports are not as outward-thinking. (The NFL has an award-winning film unit, but despite dabbling in live music video content, has since retreated). Bowman says the operation has been guided by a simple philosophy. “We fail plenty here, but we fail fast. We are not nostalgic. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, so don’t waste our consumers’ time.”

If the business was thought to be worth $2.5 billion nearly a decade ago—about the same as the current valuation of the New York Yankees, baseball’s most valuable team—it is surely worth far more now. But Bowman rules out an IPO; BAM does not need fresh capital, he says, and its owners have already been paid back (and then some) for their original investment.

Either way, its impact is destined to be felt far beyond baseball.  ”I think it’s not only one of the great stories in American sports business in the past 12 years,” the most powerful man in baseball, MLB commissioner Bud Selig told Fast Company in 2012, “but one of the great stories in American business.”

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