YouTube and MLB team up to stream 15 upcoming games for free

Major League Baseball is the largest professional baseball organization in the world, and its 2022 season just started earlier this month. MLB already has some of the most convoluted distribution and streaming deals in all of sports or TV, and now MLB and YouTube are mixing it up further with a new streaming deal.

Major League Baseball said in an announcement Thursday, “YouTube and Major League Baseball announced Thursday the renewal of their longstanding and fan-favorite partnership and the return of MLB Game of the Week Live to YouTube, featuring 15 games all throughout the 2022 regular season. , streaming live, free of charge, to fans around the world in 182 countries. This season’s MLB Game of the Week live on YouTube will air May 5 at 3:10 p.m. ET, with the Washington Nationals taking on the Colorado Rockies.

YouTube has partnered with MLB for streaming rights to previous seasons, but this time around it won’t require a YouTube TV or YouTube Premium subscription. The games will be available to watch on the MLB YouTube channel, and if you still prefer to watch on YouTube TV, the games will appear on the dedicated Game of the Week channel.

As yahoo pointed out in his cover, this adds yet another exclusivity deal into the already complicated MLB season. There are 18 Sunday games only available in the US with a Peacock subscription, in addition to Friday Doubleheaders on Apple TV+ and Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. Even though YouTube is more accessible than these services (and free), the growing number of exclusive offers is hard to keep up with. MLB’s blackout rules are so extensive and complicated that they have their own dedicated Wikipedia article.

Major League Baseball has seen declines in both actual attendance and home viewership over the past few years, with 2021 marking a 37-year low for per-game attendance. Granted, the COVID-19 pandemic kept many people away from major sporting events during this time, but home viewing has also declined (by around 12% from 2019). Moving some games to YouTube could be a way to boost viewership, but it probably won’t move the needle too much.

Source: MLB, Yahoo

Neal T. Doss