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Culture

MLB.com sells digital hits

Baseball fans can score complete downloads of games from MLB.com for $3.95 a pop. The games can be watched on a PC or burned onto a DVD.

If New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens wins his 300th game Friday night, Major League Baseball will be ready to sell a new form of memorabilia beyond its standard pins and plaques.

The league's Web division has begun selling complete games for people to download off its site for $3.95 a pop. The video download can be stored on a user's hard drive and watched on a PC, or it can be burned onto a DVD to watch on a TV set.

"In theory, over time, when someone subscribes for MLB pay-TV, we can offer three ways to offer a game: live, archived or downloaded," said Bob Bowman, CEO of MLB Advanced Media.

MLB.TV, as the live streaming video service is branded, costs $2.95 a day, $14.95 a month, or $79.95 a season. Its audio service, which allows people to listen to games outside their local area, costs $19.95 a season.

The feature is the latest push by MLB.com to encourage baseball fans to follow their favorite teams through the Internet. MLB.com and partner RealNetworks already offer season-long subscriptions for game-day radio broadcasts and this year introduced live video feeds for 70 percent of all games played.

MLB is experimenting with digital downloads as a way to sell products to "collectors and memorabilia buffs," according to Bowman. He said downloads will take about 20 minutes on most standard broadband connections.

The downloaded games initially will have no digital protection embedded into their code. That will change in July when games will be laced with RealNetworks' digital rights management software to permit only one download and one CD-burn.