Major League Baseball has renewed its contract with YouTube to allow the streamer to offer 15 regular season games this season. The games, which will be free, will be exclusive to YouTube, meaning they won’t be available on any other service including MLB Extra Innings, MLB.TV or the teams’ regional sports channels.
The first YouTube game this season will be the May 5th matchup between the Washington Nationals and Colorado Rockies at 3:10 p.m. ET.
This is the fourth straight season that YouTube will provide MLB games without fans being able to see them on any other platform, including the subscription-based services such as Extra Innings and MLB TV. But that arrangement might draw more criticism this season with Apple and Peacock combined also getting several dozen games exclusively.
Fans who pay top dollar for premium plans such as MLB TV and/or regional sports channel subscriptions via their cable or satellite operators might feel that their investments have been devalued. Viewers who live in rural areas where high-speed Internet access is limited may also have issues with the streaming exclusives.
The league, however, is focused on widening its audience, particularly with young viewers who are more inclined to watch television via streaming.
“We value our continued partnership with YouTube and the opportunity to build on the experience the MLB Game of the Week on YouTube brings to fans,” said Dominick Balsamo, MLB’s senior vice president of global media and business development. “YouTube’s creative approach to fan engagement lets viewers feel like they are a part of the broadcast, and we look forward to another season of bringing fans closer to the game through their unique presentation.”
MLB Network, which is owned by the league, will produce the YouTube games with Scott Braun and Yonder Alonso on the call. The broadcasts will include pre-game shows and interactive features such as chat and polls.
Here are some more games scheduled for YouTube after the Nationals-Rockies game on May 5:
Brewers-Reds, May 11, 12:35 p.m. ET
Diamondbacks-Cubs, May 20, 2:20 p.m. ET
Tigers-Twins, May 25, 1:10 p.m. ET
Royals-Guardians, June 1, 1:10 p.m. ET
Blue Jays-Royals, June 8, 2:10 p.m. ET
Twins-Mariners, June 15, 4:10 p.m. ET
YouTube and MLB will announce the remaining games later in the season.
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— Phillip Swann