Batter up! Apple TV Plus will begin streaming baseball this season — if there is a season, pending the resolution of the MLB lockout.
At the Apple March Event, CEO Tim Cook announced a deal with Major League Baseball that will bring an exclusive weekly doubleheader to the streaming service. Dubbed Friday Night Baseball, it'll be the first live sports to stream on Apple TV Plus, which has so far offered mostly original movies, series, documentaries and children's programming.
The broadcast will be available in the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Friday Night Baseball will be accompanied by a pre-show and post-show, and a live highlights show titled MLB Big Inning will air every weeknight during the regular season.
As perhaps most notable for fans, baseball reporter Maury Brown tweeted that the games will have no local blackout restrictions.
Friday Night Baseball will step up to the plate at the start of the current 2022 MLB season — whenever that begins. The MLB and owners are currently embroiled in a lockout with the Players Association. On March 1, commissioner Rob Manfred announced that opening day would be delayed and the first week of games canceled. More may be scrapped should negotiations prove unfruitful. (If you don't want to pay for baseball, here's how to cancel MLB.TV until the season starts.)
“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 statement. “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.”
Streaming services have started adding live sports access as a way to entice new subscribers and retain existing subscribers. Amazon bought the rights to the NFL's Thursday Night Football games, which begin streaming this fall. Peacock's coverage of the Winter Olympics was impressive, and the NBCUniversal service also offers the Premier League, WWE, rugby and other sports coverage. Paramount Plus has Champions League, the PGA tour and CBS' NFL games. And HBO Max has a deal to stream NHL matches.