The NFL has the Surface.
Now, MLB has the iPad.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday evening that Major League Baseball has inked a multi-year deal with Apple that will allow managers to use iPads as a way to analyze player data during games in the dugout and training.
Each team will have the option of using a 12.9-inch iPad Pro tablet with a custom MLB Dugout app to access a wealth of data and statistics, from information on pitcher-hitter match-ups to video of past plays, the Journal noted. The data, which includes info from the new Statcast technology, will be proprietary to each team and is pre-loaded on tablets before games.
“Our collaboration with Apple on the use of iPad Pro in dugouts and bullpens is part of our ongoing effort to introduce extraordinary technology into our game,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “We are pleased that Apple’s groundbreaking products, which have already improved the access that fans have to our sport, will now inform the decisions that make our games interesting and exciting throughout the year.”
It’s a big move by MLB, which traditionally banned any technology from dugouts and bullpens during games, but has recently eased those restrictions.
Now with the upcoming season that kicks off next month, you may see managers swiping away on their iPad during a game inside the dugout, versus going into the clubhouse to do so like in years past. League rules still mandate that the tablets are not be connected to the Internet while in use in the dugout and bullpen, however. Support for Apple Pencil and video annotation will be added later, MLB said.
This is also important given how data and analytics has impacted baseball, perhaps more so than other professional sports.
The Journal reported that terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Microsoft, meanwhile, paid $400 million to the NFL in 2013 as part of a 5-year deal that allows players and coaches to use custom-built Surface tablets that lets them be more efficient in how they review past plays on the sidelines during games.
The NFL is now also testing video streaming of past plays on the tablets. It will be interesting to see if NFL players and coaches start using the Surface tablets beyond just replays and more for data analysis, much like how the MLB envisions its managers utilizing the iPads.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with more details about the partnership between Apple and MLB, along with screenshots.