Apple TV+ to stream weekly Major League Baseball games in its first live sports deal – TechCrunch

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Following reports that Apple was on an “aggressive hunt” for new sports deals for its Apple TV+ streaming service, Apple today announced it was bringing a number of Major League Baseball games exclusively to Apple TV+. The company said fans will be able to tune into two games on Friday night during the regular season, which will also include a pregame and postgame show.

The games and shows will be available in eight countries, according to a joint announcement by Apple and MLB today. This includes the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the U.K. Apple said it expects to expand the offering to more countries at a later date.

In addition to what Apple has dubbed “Friday Night Baseball,” U.S. fans will also be able to tune in to a new live show called “MLB Big Inning,” which will feature highlights and look-ins and will air every night during the regular reason. And fans in both the U.S. and Canada will gain access to a new 24/7 livestream with MLB game replay, news, analysis, highlights, classic games and more, as well as on-demand programming that includes highlights and other original MLB content.

The games and shows will stream across the Apple TV+ service, where they won’t be subject to local broadcast restrictions, Apple notes. The Apple TV+ works across devices, including Apple’s own iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV and website at tv.apple.com, as well as other game consoles, smart TV and some cable set-top boxes through partner deals.

Notably, the MLB games will serve as a way to attract users to the Apple TV+ streaming service. Apple says the games will be available on the service “for a limited time” without a need for a subscription. (The company would not clarify in a later briefing how long this “limited time” would last.)

“Just like all baseball fans, we can’t wait for the season to open,” said Peter Stern, Apple’s vice president of Services, 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.”

As a part of the new deal, Apple and MLB will also provide enhanced league and team coverage for fans to follow in the Apple News app, which will offer a way to watch highlights, as well.

The news was announced during Apple’s live event on Tuesday, where the company had showcased the latest updates for iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Reports that Apple was in discussions with MLB for live sports had circulated last month. Other suitors included NBC Sports — its parent was interested in adding more sports content on its own streaming service, Peacock, which the deal would have allowed. The deal value had been in the $100-150 million range, New York Post had said.

Apple and MLB have worked closely together in previous years, as MLB was often an early adopter of new Apple technology, like ARKit, or services, like Apple Pay or Business Chat. Apple also had once partnered with MLB to put iPads in the dugouts.

“Apple is the ideal partner to bring ‘Friday Night Baseball’ to fans around the world,” said Noah Garden, MLB’s chief revenue officer, in an announcement. “Following milestones like the launch of At Bat on day one of the App Store in 2008 to the integration of Apple technology in ballparks across the country, this robust new game package is the perfect next collaboration in our long history of offering quality and innovative content to our fans. With national availability and international reach, MLB on Apple TV+ offers an exciting new platform to fans that allows a wider audience to connect with the game,” he said.

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