Apple is making a big move in sports, announcing Friday Night Baseball, a weekly doubleheader with live pre and postgame shows available in eight countries on Apple TV+.
The live streams will begin as soon as the Major League Baseball season gets under way, though that won’t be anytime soon. Due to an ongoing labor impasse between team owners and players, some early-season games have already been scrubbed from the schedule as negotiations continue. Reports have indicated wide differences between the sides.
In the U.S., new programming resulting from the partnership will include MLB Big Inning, a live show with highlights airing every weeknight during the regular season. Baseball fans in the U.S. and Canada will also have access to a new 24/7 livestream with MLB game replays, news and analysis, highlights and classic games, as well as on-demand programming.
Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the rights deal during the company’s Peek Performance event on Tuesday as the company unveiled a range of product updates and initiatives.
The Friday night games will be free from local broadcast restrictions, across devices where Apple TV+ can be found and select smart TVs, gaming consoles, and cable set-top boxes, Apple said.
It will be available on Apple TV+ for a limited time without the need for a subscription. Apple didn’t specify for how long.
“Just like all baseball fans, we can’t wait for the season to open,” said Peter Stern, Apple VP of Services. “Baseball has a special place in the heart of so many Apple customers — not just in the United States, but in many countries around the world. We’re proud to make Apple TV+ the home for great baseball moments throughout the season.”
Noah Garden, MLB’s chief revenue officer, called Apple “the ideal partner to bring Friday Night Baseball to fans around the world.”
Talks between baseball officials and Apple had been reported earlier this year. The streaming deal is the latest tech twist in the lucrative sports media landscape. Amazon’s Prime Video streamed 21 New York Yankees games in 2021 via its involvement in the YES Network and this fall it will start exclusive carriage of NFL Thursday Night Football. Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount and WarnerMedia, meanwhile, are all streaming more sports than ever. Even regional sports network owners like Sinclair Broadcast Group are rethinking their traditional linear model.
Friday Night Baseball will be available on Apple TV+ in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and the UK. It will expand to additional countries at a later date.
Apple and MLB said they will also provide enhanced league and team coverage, enabling fans to follow the action in Apple News, with highlights available in the News app.
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