It’s long been rumored that Apple was mulling the possibility of streaming live sports, and now Cupertino is dipping its toe into the water with an exclusive package of weekly Major League Baseball games. With a players’ strike looming, however, Apple’s timing is a tad awkward.
During Apple’s “Peek Performance” event on Tuesday, CEO Tim Cook announced Friday Night Baseball, a weekly MLB doubleheader with both pre- and post-game shows that will stream exclusively on Apple TV+ “as soon as the regular season begins.”
Of course, the “when” of this year’s regular season is an open question, with the league and the MLB Players Association at odds over player salaries, the future of the annual amateur draft, and the length of the postseason, among other issues. MLB has already canceled the first week of the season, and a second week may soon be nixed as well.
In any event, when and if the season does start up, Apple says that its Friday-night MLB games will be available on any device that hosts Apple TV+, including iPhones, iPads, Apple TV devices, and supported smart TVs and game consoles.
The games will be available for a “limited time” without an Apple TV+ subscription, Apple promised, but after that, baseball fans will need to pay up for the Friday matchups.
Besides the games themselves, Apple will stream “MLB Big Inning,” a live show with “highlights and look-ins” that will appear on weeknights during the regular season. Also on tap is a “24/7 livestream” with MLB replays, news, and analysis, along with a “full complement” of on-demand content.
The arrival of Friday Night Baseball will fuel the rumors of Apple’s other potential live sports ambitions; namely, NFL Sunday Ticket, which will be up for grabs next season. Apple was–again–recently said to be “exploring” the possibility of scoping up the NFL’s vaunted Sunday streaming package, but other big streamers are also in the mix, including Amazon and Disney.
Friday Night Baseball will be available in eight countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. MLB Big Inning will only stream stateside, while Apple’s 24/7 MLB livestream will be available just in the U.S. and Canada.