MLB umpires have a new view this season — on Zoom

NEW YORK — Referees have a new view this season: on Zoom.

Major League Baseball has contracted with Zoom Video Communications Inc. to allow onfield umpires to view the Replay Operations Center reviewing disputed calls.

MLB first introduced Instant Replay for home boundary calls in September 2008 and expanded it to a variety of decisions for the 2014 season. Last season there were 1,434 video reviews, including 1,261 team challenges, 50.2% of which resulted in rejected calls.

Previously, the team boss on the field only listened to the replay referee in New York with audio, along with the referee who made the initial call if he was not the team boss. The umps went to the edge of the field to listen through a headset until 2013, then an attendant brought a headset onto the field for them from 2014-21. Last year, umps transitioned to a wireless belt pack, and for the first time, MLB allowed it to announce replays and baseball sound reinforcement decisions.

The umps on the field will be equipped with 12.9-inch iPad Pro tablets by a technician this year. They will be connected to the Zoom Contact Center and Replay Operations Center so they can see which replay is being viewed. The replay referee still gets the last call.

“They can see who’s in the chair, who might be with that person, what pieces they’re looking at, and can combine a visual interaction with the traditional audio interaction they have to discuss the call on the spot.” said Chris Marinak, MLB’s chief operations and strategy officer.

A limited number of shows have access to the Zoom videos seen by the umps: Apple TV+ and MLB Network Showcase TV Shows. Marinak said the new technology could become available for post-season television shows, and Ballpark video boards will have access to the television shows’ zoom views — which will be branded with the company.

Zoom will also be used by MLB on day one of the Seattle amateur draft on July 9th. It’s too early to tell if Zoom can integrate with robotic panel umpires as the automated ball hitting system will be tested during Triple-A this season.

“The entire ecosystem is open to innovation and experimentation,” Marinak said. “We’re definitely going to try things and see what sticks. For ABS, I think it’s too early to say that we’ve committed to a specific process and technology for the long term. I think we’re still experimenting a lot and being open to really anything when trying things at the minor league level.”

Introduced in 2011, Zoom has been increasingly used by MLB teams during the pandemic. For much of 2021-22, Zoom replaced in-person media availability for players and managers.

“They’ve been a customer for many years, using our meetings, our rooms, our phone technology, and then deeper integrations. As we know, the way people have used video has really evolved over the past few years,” said Janine Pelosi, Zoom Marketing Director. “I think it will add that technology where it doesn’t get in the way of the game. I find that critical. And it will draw fans into the experience.”

MLB umpires have a new view this season — on Zoom originally appeared on

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