Business innovation authors Clayton M. Christensen and Scott D. Anthony write in Forbes.com about the experimental approach that Major League Baseball has taken to innovation.
“MLB has done a phenomenal job of finding new ways to deepen its connection with its core consumers. At a local level, teams have experimented with revenue streams such as forging lucrative partnerships with regional cable networks (or, in some cases, creating their own networks), courting corporate sponsorships, building in-stadium restaurants and luxury boxes, and launching tie-ins with local merchants.”…
“The final key to [MLB Advanced Media’s] success has been experimentation with different content and revenue models. … it hasn’t put all of its eggs in its live-streaming basket. The venture is actively experimenting with new content packages and distribution models. Consumers can get e-mail and mobile phone alerts, view customized clips featuring players who are on their fantasy baseball team, listen to games in different languages, look at historical footage or participate in blogs.
“It offers annual subscription packages, has a pay-per-game option, hosts advertising on its Web site and sells sponsorship and targeted advertisements on some of its new products. It has even found ways to monetize its emerging video capabilities by helping other companies produce online sports broadcasts.
“Such experimentation is critical in a time of strategic turbulence. … By starting early, experimenting frequently and following new models, MLB has unleashed a powerful wave of innovation that appears to have allowed it to successfully manage through a structural decline that could have had devastating consequences.”
The type of experimental approach that Christensen and Anthony describe is similar, but not identical, to what David Galenson describes as experimental. MLB is firmly grounded in its core business, as an old master is. Only in that context does it experiment with bright new ideas.