Apple and Major League Baseball have agreed a deal to use iPads in the dugouts during games, showing performance stats, analyze pitcher-hitter matchups, compare pitching range and more, via the Wall Street Journal. The iPads will use a custom app called ‘MLB Dugout’, created by MLB’s media division with help from Apple.

In the new deal, Apple and MLB will provide 12.9 inch iPad Pros to every team in the league, fitted with rugged cases for protection. The deal was made possible because of a recent change to the rules which lifts the ban on smartphones, tablets and laptops in the dugouts. Whether Apple paid for the promotion or MLB paid for the products was not disclosed.

Microsoft has cut a similar deal with the NFL (costing them $400 million), to feature Surface tablets prominently during games. This has led to some amusing moments for TV, where commentators were mistakenly referring to the Surface tablets as iPads for a period.

The difference between Apple’s MLB and Microsoft’s NFL arrangement, however, is that Microsoft made it a contractual requirement for Surface tables to be visible on the sidelines. iPads will be given to all team coaches and managers but the usage of iPads in games is optional.

At launch, the data will be manually loaded onto the iPad apps and information will be proprietary for each time. Down the road, MLB wants to have more realtime access to analytics. Apple SVP Marketing Phil Schiller told the Wall Street Journal: “We’re not just replacing binders with tablets, we’re actually helping them do things that weren’t possible before”.

The MLB season runs from April 3rd to October 2nd.

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