UPDATED with official announcement and details: In Major League Baseball’s latest streaming foray, NBCUniversal’s Peacock will carry a slate of 18 games on Sundays in May.
The arrangement follows Apple’s Friday night doubleheader announcement. Both deals had been reported last month, but NBCU officially confirmed the Peacock news Wednesday. The first game will see the Chicago White Sox visit the Boston Red Sox for a game at Fenway Park on May 18. That game starts at 11:30 a.m. ET. The first six Peacock games will start at 11:30 and the final dozen at noon ET.
PREVIOUSLY, March 11 PM: Major League Baseball, after resolving a labor dispute with players to save the 2022 season and making a splashy deal to stream games on Apple TV+, is on the verge of making more streaming inroads.
The league and NBCUniversal are close to finalizing a deal that would see a slate of 18 games stream on Peacock, according to a source familiar with the discussions. A formal announcement could come early next week.
The Wall Street Journal reported on the pact today, following a New York Post report last month. The WSJ pegged the valuation at $30 million.
Reps from NBC Sports and MLB declined Deadline’s request for comment.
While the price tag is not cosmic, the agreement is the latest sign that sports is continuing to migrate in earnest away from linear TV and toward streaming. MLB and Apple just announced a package of Friday games will stream on Apple TV+. Amazon also streamed 21 New York Yankees games in the New York market last season in a deal with the YES Network. Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is also a partner in YES, owns the Ballys regional sports networks and is in the midst of shifting their offerings, including MLB, to a set of direct-to-consumer streaming services.
In the case of Peacock’s exclusive Sunday games, they are due to begin as early as 11:30 a.m. ET, which would enable them to steer clear of the regular slate of 1 p.m. games with existing rights deals.
ESPN has been steadily adding more live games to ESPN+ and cross-promoting them via Hulu, which is also owned by Disney. HBO Max is planning to stream live National Hockey League Games. Amazon Prime Video will begin exclusive streams of NFL Thursday Night Football starting in September.
For many stakeholders, among them Fox, NBCU, Disney and Paramount, the linear component of sports remains massively important as a driver of cash flow and a platform for advertising. Those companies’ recent $100 billion-plus rights deals with the NFL introduce some streaming elements but also secure traditional TV carriage through 2032.
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