Last week, just before the MLB/MLBPA deal closed, Apple revealed at one of its public events that they had reached an agreement to stream select MLB games on Apple TV+.
Excerpt from Apple’s press release, quoted in this BCB article link:
Apple and Major League Baseball (MLB) today announced “Friday Night Baseball,” a weekly doubleheader with live pre-game and post-game broadcasts that will be available to fans in eight countries exclusively on AppleTV+ from the start of the regular season.
In addition to “Friday Night Baseball,” fans in the United States will be able to enjoy “MLB Big Inning,” a live show featuring highlights and insights airing every weeknight during the regular season. Baseball fans in the United States and Canada will also have access to a new 24/7 live stream featuring MLB game replays, news and analysis, highlights, classic games and more, plus a full lineup of on-demand programming, including highlights and MLB-themed original content.
Friday night’s doubles matches will be exclusive to Apple, meaning they won’t be broadcast by the teams’ regional sports networks. The Cubs typically play Friday afternoon games at home, so those won’t be affected. But if a Cubs road game is part of that streaming package, you’ll need to subscribe to Apple TV+ in order to watch. No game time has been announced for it, but I imagine it will include a match at 6 p.m. CT and another at 9 p.m. CT.
Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported on a new MLB streaming deal that’s nearing completion with NBC, with games to stream on the network’s Peacock streaming channel:
The deal with NBCUniversal, a unit of Comcast Corp., would involve an 18-game bundle, with some starting at 11:30 a.m. ET and others just after noon, the people said. This would limit the conflict with Sunday games which usually start at 1 p.m., making the shows more valuable for Peacock. Games would be played primarily on the East Coast, given the early schedule, the people said.
The games would be available exclusively to paying Peacock subscribers, meaning consumers wouldn’t have access through traditional cable TV packages or other streaming services, such as MLB’s direct-to-consumer app. , said people familiar with the discussions.
Again, this would mean that games transported via this agreement would not be available on RSNs. There will be 18 games in total under this deal:
Under terms being discussed with MLB, NBC Sports would produce the pre-game and post-game shows, as well as the games. The first game, expected in early May, would air on both NBC’s broadcast network and Peacock, people familiar with the talks said. The rest of the 17 games would be exclusively on Peacock.
One thing I want to make sure to clarify for you: while all games shown through these offers are exclusive to the relevant channels, this does NOT mean that other games cannot be shown during the times indicated. In other words, games that aren’t on Apple’s or Peacock’s offerings can still be streamed on regional sports networks on Fridays and Sundays. If, for example, the Cubs play the Brewers on a Friday night in Milwaukee and that game is not on Apple TV+ or Peacock, it will be broadcast by Marquee Sports Network or Bally Sports Wisconsin and can be viewed on those services, or out of market on MLB.TV.
Incidentally, if you are a Comcast/Xfinity subscriber – and I am – you have access to Peacock through your Comcast subscription and will be able to watch these games without additional payment.
This will make it a bit more difficult to follow “What channel is the Cubs playing on?” starting this season, but I will do my best to put all broadcast/cable/satellite/streaming information in every series and game preview.
Oh, yes, one more thing: money. That is why these agreements are made. According to this Forbes article by Mike OzanianMLB will raise $115 million a year from these new TV deals:
Major League Baseball’s new streaming deal with Apple is worth $85 million per year over seven years, according to multiple sources familiar with the deal who asked not to be identified as they were not authorized to discuss terms .
Under the new deal, Apple will pay $55 million in rights fees and $30 million in advertising. Apple obtains exclusive rights to broadcast two Friday Night Baseball games each week (approximately 50 per season) in the United States and eight overseas countries via Apple TV+. Apple has the right to terminate the agreement after the first or second year.
Additionally, Forbes has learned that MLB has entered into a two-year streaming deal with Comcast’s NBCUniversal for a set of 18 games each season that will be on Peacock’s premium tier and will be exclusive, meaning they will won’t be. available on MLB.TV, Extra Innings or competing teams’ RSNs. The Peacock deal begins this season and is worth $30 million a year.
No wonder the players have been waiting for a better collective agreement. That was the crux of the labor dispute: players were getting a lower and lower percentage of league revenue over time, and yes, I’m going to repost that graph again:
With MLB getting new revenue from those two deals – as well as increased revenue from previously agreed contracts with TBS, Fox and ESPN, including about $100 million from ESPN for the expanded playoffs – players should have more. So, increased levels of CBT are good for players and ultimately good for baseball.
It just means you may need to subscribe to more services to watch all Cubs games this year and in the future. (And that’s not even including the potential Cubs streaming deal being discussed.)