CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple will enter the live sports coverage arena with « Friday Night Baseball. »
Apple and Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that Apple TV+ will carry a weekly doubleheader on Friday nights in eight countries when the regular season begins. Games will initially be available without the need for an Apple TV+ subscription.
MLB has been under a work stoppage since owners locked out players at the end of the collective bargaining agreement. At 97 days, it is the second-longest work stoppage in baseball history.
The broadcasts on Apple TV+ will include pregame and postgame shows and will not be subject to local broadcast blackout restrictions. Besides being shown in the United States, Canada and Mexico, games will also initially be available in Australia, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.
The agreement also includes the « MLB Big Inning » weekday show for fans in the US as well as a livestream channel for those watching in the US and Canada.
MLB has been exploring selling a weeknight package of games with ESPN reducing its coverage of the regular season to 30 games, mostly on Sunday nights. Turner Sports will have games on Tuesday nights under a new rights deal that begins this season.
Apple and MLB have been closely aligned for years. MLB At Bat was one of the first apps to go live on the Apple app store in 2008.
The deal also comes as Apple is looking to expand to other leagues. The company has been pursuing streaming of NFL games when the league’s « Sunday Ticket » expires at the end of the upcoming season.