Apple TV+ is officially getting into the live sports business.
The video streaming service known for original content, including Ted Lasso, The Morning Show and The Shrink Next Door, has reached an agreement with Major League Baseball to bring exclusive broadcasts of select games to the platform in 2022.
Apple CEO Tim Cook made the announcement alongside revelations on new iPhone and iPad products at the tech giant’s latest “Apple Event” on Tuesday, March 8.
At just $5 per month, the streaming service is one of the more affordable options on the market. Will the emergence of live sports on the platform make it a bargain, or are price increases to follow?
Here’s what we know so far.
Apple and MLB Reach Agreement on Exclusive “Friday Night Baseball” Broadcast
Apple TV+ will hold exclusive broadcasting rights to two major league baseball games each week, beginning in the 2022 season.
The games will air back-to-back as a part of a “Friday Night Baseball” presentation that will include pre-and post-game shows produced by Apple.
Apple also announced that it will air a live baseball-themed show called “MLB Big Inning” that will feature highlights and live look-ins on Major League Baseball games.
All of this, of course, is assuming MLB is able to solve a labor issue that currently has the 2022 season on hold.
This content is the first addition of live professional sports to the Apple TV+ video streaming platform.
What Apple Is Saying
“Just like all baseball fans, we can’t wait for the season to open,” Peter Stern, Apple’s vice president of Services, said in a news release.
“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.”
What Major League Baseball Is Saying
“Apple is the ideal partner to bring ‘Friday Night Baseball’ to fans around the world,” said Noah Garden, MLB’s chief revenue officer, in a news release.
“Following milestones like the launch of At Bat on day one of the App Store in 2008 to the integration of Apple technology in ballparks across the country, this robust new game package is the perfect next collaboration in our long history of offering quality and innovative content to our fans. With national availability and international reach, MLB on Apple TV+ offers an exciting new platform to fans that allows a wider audience to connect with the game.”
Industry Speculation: This May Be Only the Beginning
If you’re excited by this baseball streaming news, there’s a chance that there could be more announcements like this to follow.
The streaming rights to the NFL’s popular Sunday Ticket package are a hot topic of discussion in the streaming industry, and Apple is a name that continually shows up in reports about potential suitors for replacing DirecTV as the rights holder for the broadcast of NFL games.
Last football season, The Athletic reported that NFL executives may prefer Apple as its next streaming partner.
And as recently as this month, Front Office Sports reported that Apple may be aggressively negotiating a multi-billion dollar deal to get those coveted NFL broadcasting rights.
Of course, there are other streaming services in play.
Amazon’s Prime Video, which is now the exclusive home for the NFL’s Thursday Night Football broadcast, is reported to be another interested party when it comes to purchasing the streaming rights for American live sports. So is Disney, which has a popular streaming TV bundle that includes Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+.
This announcement is good news for sports fans who have cut the cord and are wanting more affordable access to live sports broadcasts.
While this may impact only 50 or so baseball games this season, the announcement could be an indicator of bigger things to come in the space in the coming months and years.
Of course, it’s worth noting that broadcast rights for professional sports don’t come cheap. And the costs of accumulating these rights may ultimately lead to future price hikes for popular streaming services.
As for now, Apple TV+ users will get to enjoy baseball games in 2022 while still paying an affordable $5 per month.
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