AT&T PARK — People move throughout San Francisco staring at their phones. They assume the craned-neck posture when they’re walking down the street, riding transit and sitting in restaurants.
This summer, the Giants hope they’re what people are watching.
The team announced Wednesday that — for the first time — its games will be available for streaming, despite being in market, with a subscription to NBC Sports Bay Area, previously CSN.
“You’re going to dinner, you’re walking down the street for 15 minutes to get to dinner and the game’s down the street but you can’t be there. [Now,] you can watch it on your tablet or watch it on your phone,” Giants CEO Larry Baer said after addressing the crowd at the Giants’ annual Media Open House at AT&T Park.
Making the games more accessible comes as part of a push by the organization to keep younger viewers interested and connected to the team’s brand. In other words, they’re trying to solve that pesky millennial problem of selling a product that requires a reasonable attention span.
In Baer’s eyes, the solution lies in embracing the tech culture of The City.
“I think that you want to be really current with lifestyle,” he said. “It’s kind of like online ordering, retail, everything is changing and baseball in many ways is perfectly suited for those changes because we have really good technology.”
Baer pointed to MLB Advanced Media, which produces MLB.tv, the best streaming service in sports, as proof that baseball has no problem keeping up with the times.
The organization is also looking to keep young professionals attached to the team by altering how they can attend games. That’s why the Giants will be testing what they’re calling the +1 Ballpark Pass.
For $99, fans get access to the ballpark for two people for each home game in April (excluding the home opener on April 10).
“We recognize the new generation of fan is looking for different things, they’re looking for flexibility and for last-minute decisions,” explained Mario Alioto, executive vice president for business operations.
The idea is similar to programs the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers have already announced. In St. Louis, fans pay $29.99, which guarantees a standing-room ticket. Brewers fans pay $49 and receive an actual seat in Miller Park for 13 home games.
Alioto warns that the Giants’ system is different because they sell out most games, implying there will be less room for fans to roam and that it’s more about getting access to the scene of the ballpark.
“I think it’s not so much where they stand, it’s being in an environment where everyone is for the moment,” he said. “Will we end up coming up with a program where there’s a certain area or certain bar or something where people can hang out? We can do that. We’re not sure yet.”
For Baer, the system is designed to accommodate the people who “consume baseball differently,” who live and work near AT&T Park, the building on which Baer and the Giants made their last payment in December.
“If I’m working at Twitter, Salesforce or Dropbox, I’m not punching in 9 to 5. Maybe I’m working ’till 8 o’clock and if I buy one of these ballpark passes, I feel like I can come in and show up in the fourth inning and I don’t need a seat,” the CEO said. “It’s designed for the millennials whose habits or lifestyles are different than the typical season ticket holder.”
Fans love getting free things at the gate and the Giants’ sponsors are happy to provide them that little joy. Here are 3 of the most interesting upcoming giveaways at AT&T Park:
— Two Flaps Down Hat: It’s a goofy hat that should be useful on chilly nights at the ballpark. Given to the first 20,000 fans on Saturday, April 29.
— Buster Hugs Blanket: Experience Buster Posey giving you a hug by lying under this. Given to the first 20,000 fans on Friday, June 9.
— Virgin America 2-for-1 Flight Voucher: This is just practical. Given to first 40,000 fans on Saturday, August 9.