MLB, Apple link up for "Friday Night Baseball" – Sports Business Journal

MLB made its Apple deal official today with a comprehensive rights agreement that includes a weekly “Friday Night Baseball” doubleheader on Apple TV+. Apple CEO Tim Cook made the announcement during an online presentation today. The multiyear deal kicks in this season, as soon as the regular season begins. Execs would not offer guidance on how much Apple is paying for the rights. The Friday night games will be exclusive to Apple; they will not be carried by the participating teams’ RSNs. MLB will produce the games. MLB still is negotiating with Peacock on another package of streamed games. “We’re prioritizing reach — we need to reach our next generation of fans and people that find themselves outside of the bundle,” said MLB Chief Revenue Officer Noah Garden. “That is the most important aspect of this deal.” Garden led MLB’s negotiations; James DeLorenzo, who heads up sports for Apple TV, was the point person for Apple.
In addition to the two weekly Friday night games, the deal has Apple launching a live highlight show every weeknight called “MLB Big Inning,” which will provide live game look-ins; a 24/7 livestream with game replays, news, highlights and classic games; and the opportunity to watch highlights in the Apple News app. “This is sort of like an all-in deal that allows us to harness everything that people have assumed is powerful about the streaming space and even more importantly, the power of our partner, Apple, here,” Garden said.
The deal is welcomed news for a sports industry that has been waiting for the deep-pocketed Apple to start investing in live sports rights. Apple execs have been meeting with various teams and leagues over the past several years, but this marks Apple’s first significant sports rights deal. Apple also is considered a front-runner, along with Amazon, to pick up rights to the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package and part of that league’s media businesses, according to sources. “This is going to provide validation for what we’ve all been talking about for quite some time,” Garden said. “Immerse yourself in all the way Apple reaches people. That’s going to provide an amazing amount of data as we move forward and hopefully will validate that you can reach fans that are outside the bundle.”

The ”Friday Night Baseball” doubleheader will be available in nine countries/territories: the U.S., Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the U.K. “MLB Big Inning” will be available in the U.S.; the livestream will be available in the U.S. and Canada. MLB first started working with Apple in ‘08 when the two debuted the “At Bat” mobile app. MLB also was part of the ‘10 iPad launch and was the first to live stream video to an Apple TV device in ‘11. “We have a long-standing relationship through our old BAM days where we devoted a tremendous amount of time in technology,” Garden said. “When you have that type of relationship, these sorts of opportunities present themselves.”
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