TV Answer Man, I’m hearing that Apple and Peacock will both stream MLB games this season. Do you know if that’s true? And why would they want to have baseball games? They just have movies and TV shows, right? — Larry, Marina Del Rey, California.
Larry, Apple TV+ has secured the exclusive rights to stream two Friday night games every week during the regular season, starting this season. The games will not be available on any regional sports channel, Extra Innings or MLB TV. They will be Apple exclusives. (Apple says the games will be free for a limited time, but later require the $4.99 monthly subscription.)
And the Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Peacock will stream 18 MLB games on Sundays this season. They will also be exclusives, meaning no MLB TV, Extra Innings or regional sports channels. (The league and Comcast, which owns Peacock under the NBC banner, are expected to issue an official announcement soon.)
The Peacock games, which are expected to be available in its Premium Plan (starts at $4.99 a month) will break some ground with some starting at 11:30 a.m. ET and others around noon. (Perhaps Peacock should change its name to Rooster.)
Why do both streamers want to carry MLB games, something they have never done before? (And in Apple’s case, it has never provided any live sports before. Peacock has carried sports, most recently the 2022 Winter Olympics games.)
The two streamers have struggled to generate subscribers, lagging behind such rivals as Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu and Disney+. They are hoping that because the games are exclusive, sports fans will sign up and stay with the service long-term once they experience its full lineup. There’s no better way to attract new viewers than live sports.
For Apple, there could be another reason for the MLB deal. The tech giant is reportedly pursuing the rights to the next Sunday Ticket contract once the current one with DIRECTV expires after the 2022 season. If it can secure those rights, it would have an exclusive (or partial exclusive) arrangement with the country’s top two sports leagues. That undoubtedly would give Apple TV+ a huge advantage.
It’s interesting that the Apple-MLB deal has a one-year escape clause, according to Forbes magazine. If the company doesn’t win the Sunday Ticket, it could conceivably jettison the MLB games because they would no longer have the same value to the company.
Larry, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann