Prior to the start of the 2022 season, MLB reached exclusive rights deals with Apple TV+ and Peacock that allow the streaming services to broadcast a certain amount of games this year.
Apple TV+ is exclusively broadcasting two games each week as part of its new “Friday Night Baseball” offering. The games are free from local blackout restrictions, but fans who want to watch them will eventually need to have an active subscription to the streaming service.
MLB also announced a streaming rights agreement with Peacock, which began May 8 with NBC Sports-produced broadcasts of games for 18 consecutive weeks. Like with Apple TV+, all Sunday morning MLB games on the platform will be exclusive broadcasts and require an active subscription.
Chief revenue officer Noah Garden believes the streaming contracts allow MLB sport to reach greater heights and attract more fans in different countries, via Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:
We have been looking for ways to increase reach for our games on a national scale. And even in the local market, the traditional linear bundle has been under pressure. On top of that, you’ve got the combination of cord-cutters and, more importantly, cord-nevers. And so the opportunity to have a partner such as Apple, who can distribute our product — in this case, doubleheaders on Friday nights — to a huge domestic but also international audience is something that appealed to us.
The other big thing for us, at least initially, is that this is free, in front of a paywall. You don’t need to be a subscriber to Apple+ to access it. We’re pretty excited about it.
Garden additionally noted the streaming deals with Apple TV+ and Peacock come at a time in which more customers are cancelling their cable or satellite subscriptions in favor of watching television via streaming services.
While this could be challenging for less-tech savvy fans, there’s no question the streaming deals will help MLB reach a broader audience.
MLB explains why Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson Day game was on Apple TV+
The Dodgers celebrated the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s MLB debut with a 3-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds. The matchup featuring Robinson’s former team was broadcast exclusively on Apple TV+ as part of its new “Friday Night Baseball” offering.
MLB putting the game exclusively on Apple’s platform drew criticism with the argument it should have been more accessible. Garden explained the decision actually allowed more people watch.
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