MLB, NHL launch new features

10/8/2010 - MLB NHL

The Texas Rangers' 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays kicked off Major League Baseball's playoffs Wednesday afternoon.

And the league made sure to get the word out on social media.

Shortly before the first pitch, MLB's official Twitter account offered up this contest in a tweet.

"Who will hit 1st #Postseason HR? 1st to tweet @MLB with correct pick wins team jersey. 1 entry per fan. Must include #1STHOMER tag. GO!!!"

The contest elicited hundreds of responses, and was a clever way to promote the start of the playoffs.

Fans had incentive to participate because of the chance to win a jersey, and, provided they simply included @mlb in a tweet and did not hit the reply button to respond (which would have meant the tweet didn't go out to all their followers, provided said followers didn't also follow MLB's official account), they blasted out MLB's brand to a countless number of their collective following.

Nelson Cruz of the Rangers won the distinction in the top of the third with a homer to dead center, which put the team up 3-0. A Tigers fan won the contest, and requested a Miguel Cabrera jersey.

Cruz became a worldwide trending topic Wednesday afternoon as well, giving the league some more publicity in the oft-crowded, chatter-filled world of Twitter.

The league also offered a $10,000 postseason bracket challenge, which was promoted on Facebook and Twitter.

Further, MLB is offering companion coverage for U.S. viewers watching the playoffs on TBS at Postseason.tv.

Alternate camera angles, Twitter integration and in-game highlights are offered, and fans can watch via the league's At Bat application on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

NHL takes more slap shots via social media

Hockey season began Thursday, and the NHL has added another social media notch to its belt.

In a tweet Wednesday, the league announced it is now on Foursquare, and fans have the opportunity to check in at all 30 NHL arenas to "receive tips from the locals on hot spots to meet pre- and post-game, as well as interesting facts about the team you're visiting."

The league also offered an opportunity for fans to check in at NHL Face-Off in Toronto on Thursday, a kickoff event to the season that featured fan activities, live television network broadcasts, musical performances and other entertainment.

Any fan checking in at the event had a chance to win a free subscription to GameCenter Live, the league's service that allows fans to watch out-of-market games online.

Just like MLB's first-homer contest, the NHL's move serves a dual purpose for fans and the league. All it takes is a simple check-in -- something a good number of fans may be inclined to do regardless of incentive -- to be entered to win a subscription to GameCenter Live, which costs $159.

And the league gets its name out more in the social streams, as Foursquare check-ins can be synched with Facebook and Twitter, keeping the brand top of mind.

The NHL also announced a new feature to its NHL GameCenter 2010 mobile application Tuesday.

The league has partnered with Elisa Corp., a Nordic communications services provider, to deliver unique content to Finnish fans who also subscribe to Elisa Viihde, an IPTV service in Finland.

The partnership will provide one-click access via IPTV or smartphones to specific, focused content about the more than 30 Finnish-born players in the league.

Ryan Corazza is a freelance writer and Web designer based in Chicago.