In 2008, Minor League Baseball (MiLB) launched a subsidiary known as Baseball Internet Rights Company (BIRCO) to manage the digital and interactive media rights for their clubs and leagues. By establishing BIRCO, MiLB was looking for a way to standardize their offerings amongst their constituents as well as take advantage of their expansive network for MiLB-wide sponsorship opportunities. BIRCO has helped MiLB to secure a multi-year agreement with partner for their radio broadcast rights. The deal with TuneIn brought MiLB games to a number of new platforms and available across the globe to over 40 million monthly listeners.
“BIRCO is going to be a leader for us in virtually every aspect of our business: e-commerce, exposure, everything else,” O’Conner said. “Right now, we’re limited to 160 communities. With BIRCO, we’re only limited by AC/DC power and an Internet connection. It opens up our universe.”
In 2000, the owners of the 30 major league baseball clubs were eight years ahead and looking for a way to take advantage of the quickly growing internet. The 30 owners decided to pool resources and invest in a centralized platform to run their websites and stream video. Major League Baseball Advanced Media was born and now (MLBAM) handles the websites, social media operations, smartphone and tablet applications for the league, as well as the websites and web streaming for the 30 Major League Baseball teams. MLBAM has a growing list of clients mainly for their video streaming services, clients including ESPN and WWE. Another client of MLBAM happens to be the 17 leagues and 159 teams in MiLB aligned with BIRCO.
MLBAM hosts and manages MiLB.com as well as individual team sites for all of the leagues/teams of BIRCO. As of June 16, 2015, every team in the International League, Pacific League, Texas League, Southern League, Eastern League, California League, Carolina League, Florida State League, Midwest League, South Atlantic League, Northwest League and Pioneer League have websites that are managed by MLBAM. Websites are hosted, although held no information for Gulf Coast League, Dominican Summer League, and the Arizona Summer League, probably because each of these leagues are Rookie Leagues that do not typically receive much fan fare or publicity as the lowest level of affiliated ball.
In the Mexican Summer League (Triple A), one out of the 16 teams in the league had a website uniform with the rest of MiLB. The ‘Los Saraperos De Saltillo’ website was the only one managed by MLBAM, while the rest of the league had websites hosted on different platforms. Two Mexican League team websites linked on MiLB.com (Piratas and Broncos) were inactive domain names.
The only remaining affiliated league is the New York Penn League (NYPL) 13 of the 14 members of the NYPL have websites that are managed by MLBAM, with the Brooklyn Cyclones as the lone domestic team to have a website that is not hosted and managed by MLBAM. The Brooklyn Cyclones’ unique approach to their website, follows suit with the organizations values as innovative thinkers whom have been able to entertain their fans with a number of thoughtful and successful promotions.
BIRCO provides a uniform structure for the affiliated MiLB teams, a safety net of sorts for their ticketing, sponsorship and website operations. The Brooklyn Cyclones outside-the-box thinking certainly does not come without any risks, but it could possibly be met with high rewards. The Brooklyn Cyclones continue to make headlines with their outrageous giveaways and game day promotions; this approach aligns well with their prerogative to breakthrough the clutter and to distinguish themselves from the crowd.
If anyone has any further information available on how/why the Brooklyn Cyclones made this decision, or any additional information on BIRCO, I would be very interested to hear it!