YouTube will live stream 13 Major League Baseball games in the second half of this season, the company announced today. The schedule of which games those will be hasn't yet been announced, but the news is another example of pro sports looking to platforms beyond traditional TV and their own dedicated streaming apps to bring in new audiences. YouTube will have exclusive rights to those games in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. They’ll be viewable from the MLB’s main YouTube page and via an upcoming channel that’s being added to YouTube TV for subscribers of that $50-per-month service.
That said, it’s not as if YouTube is about to give MLB.TV any competition: 13 games are just a drop in the bucket when you factor in the entire 162-game MLB season. At least they’ll matter a bit more since YouTube’s streams will all come after the All-Star Game break.
The games will be produced by MLB Network, so they’ll feel very familiar to baseball fans. But they’ll also be spruced up for the platform: “all 13 matchups will include a pre-game and post-game show and contain MLB- and YouTube-themed content, with some of the highly popular YouTube creators scheduled to be part of the action,” the companies said in a press release, though which YouTubers will be taking part in this arrangement hasn’t yet been revealed.
YouTube’s exclusivity means these games won’t be available on any TV networks or through MLB.TV — at least in those three countries. Internationally, the games will also be distributed through YouTube, but existing rights deals in some regions will keep them watchable through more traditional means as well. (Variety lists those here.) YouTube and Major League Baseball already have a strong relationship: the league’s YouTube page tallied 1.25 billion views in 2018, and YouTube TV began carrying MLB Network last year. But this latest deal marks the first time YouTube will exclusively deliver MLB games.