×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

YouTube Scores MLB 13-Game Package With Exclusive Rights in U.S., Canada

YouTube, in its biggest swing yet at the sports-media biz, landed a deal with Major League Baseball to live-stream 13 games during the 2019 season worldwide — free for viewers to watch and available exclusively through YouTube in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

YouTube’s first-ever exclusive live game distribution partnership with MLB will cover games during the second half of the 2019 MLB regular season. MLB and YouTube plan to announce a schedule of dates and matchups in the next few weeks.

The 13-game MLB package will be exclusively distributed in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico live for free on MLB’s official YouTube channel (youtube.com/user/MLB) and on a forthcoming dedicated channel on YouTube TV, Google’s $50 monthly internet TV bundle. That means those games won’t be on any TV network or the MLB.tv subscription-streaming service.

Internationally, the games package will be distributed on YouTube with the exception of 23 territories because of existing rights deals, according to MLB. The blackouts affect countries including Japan, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.

Financial terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. YouTube’s pact is similar to the one Facebook inked last year to carry 25 MLB games exclusively; this year, Facebook scaled back its baseball rotation, with non-exclusive rights to six of the league’s games on Facebook Watch.

Popular on Variety

The deal isn’t a seismic shakeup to the TV sports landscape, but it’s a signal that Google and YouTube may be set to become more aggressive bidders as more league rights come due. In the past, YouTube has been in the mix for the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” streaming-rights package. In a pair of smaller deals, YouTube TV inked a deal last year to exclusively carry many home games from two Major League Soccer clubs, Los Angeles Football Club and the Seattle Sounders.

The 13 MLB games on YouTube will each include pre- and post-game shows and contain MLB- and YouTube-themed content — including incorporating popular YouTube creators (yet to be named) as part of the broadcasts. The games will be produced exclusively for the YouTube platform by MLB Network.

YouTube has been a longstanding content partner for MLB and its 30 teams, with the video platform hosting highlights and classic games for over a decade. Most recently, YouTube TV was the first-ever presenting sponsor of the World Series (starting in 2017 and continuing through 2018 and 2019). Last year, YouTube also added MLB Network to the YouTube TV channel lineup.

“It’s incredible to team up with Major League Baseball for this first-of-its-kind deal together to provide both diehard baseball fans and our YouTube community with live games exclusively on YouTube and YouTube TV,” said Timothy Katz, YouTube’s head of sports and news partnerships. “With Major League Baseball’s expanding international fanbase, we are confident YouTube’s global audience will bring fans around the world together in one place to watch the games and teams they love.”

Added Chris Tully, MLB’s executive VP of global media, “YouTube is an enormously popular video platform with impressive global reach and has served as a great environment for baseball fans to consume the game they love. With the media consumption habits of our fans continuing to evolve, MLB is committed both to expanding our roster of national broadcast platforms and to presenting live games in new ways to our fans.”

MLB has been live-streaming games since 2002 on its pioneering MLB.tv service, and the league launched its YouTube channel in 2005.

In 2018, the MLB’s YouTube channel garnered 1.25 billion views, up nearly 25% from 2017. The most-watched video on the channel in 2018 was Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy’s game-winning home run in Game Three of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox; a full recap of the game is available at this link.

Other milestones over the years for MLB on YouTube included international development through licensed distribution of live-streaming regular season game simulcasts (under a 2013 deal), as well as full game archives and highlight reels distributed to baseball fans globally under a 2010 pact.

For the record, the 23 territories excluded under the YouTube-MLB live-streaming pact are: Alto Adige, Australia, Austria, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Germany, Japan, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, New Zealand, Palau, Samoa and Western Samoa, Switzerland, Tahiti, Taiwan, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu.

More Digital

  • Hulu Hopes to Make Ads Part

    Hulu Hopes to Make Ads Part of Your Binge Session

    If you just can’t keep yourself from watching another episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale” or “PEN15,” then Hulu has an ad for you. The streaming-video hub is starting a trial run of new commercials aimed specifically at binge-watchers, which the company defines as subscribers who watch three or more episodes of the same series consecutively. [...]

  • Facebook

    Facebook Pledges $130 Million to Fund Content Oversight Board as It Hits Delays

    Facebook announced an initial commitment of $130 million to launch its new Oversight Board, which is designed as a way for users to appeal the social giant’s content decisions, but the entity is behind schedule with initial board members to be announced in 2020. The Oversight Board — which has been dubbed Facebook’s “Supreme Court” [...]

  • Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS:

    Amazon Releases Secret 'Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker' Exclusive Video

    Amazon released a special behind-the-scenes look at “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in partnership with Disney and Lucasfilm, in order to — what else? — sell stuff to fans of the galaxy far, far away. The ecommerce giant debuted the Star Wars video Thursday (Dec. 12) exclusively on Amazon.com and Fire TV, with secret [...]

  • Jay-Z

    Tidal Gets Dolby Atmos Music, Jay-Z to Release Catalog in Immersive Audio Format

    Music streaming service Tidal has partnered with Dolby to bring Dolby Atmos Music tracks to its Tidal HiFi tier. This makes Tidal the second music service to support the high-end format. For now, support is limited to certain Android devices. Consumers may know Dolby Atmos as a surround-sound audio format for movies, which is being [...]

  • Netflix-logo-N-icon

    Netflix Tests Discounted Subscription Plans in India

    Netflix is testing discounted plans in India for some long-term subscribers. The plans are only available to selected new subscribers and not existing ones. While signing up, new users may be offered a 20% discount on a three-month subscription, a 30% discount on a six-month term and a 50% discount on a 12-month contract. These [...]

  • Editorial Use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    YouTube Institutes Stricter Harassment Policy, Won't Exempt Public Figures

    YouTube has promised to ramp up its fight against hate and harassment: The Google-owned video service announced changes to its harassment policy Wednesday, which include a ban on implicit threats of violence and insults that target someone for their race, gender expression or sexual orientation. “We will not tolerate harassment,” said YouTube’s global head of [...]

  • Janko Roettgers, Jeremy Legg, Vicky Colf,

    Listen: Inside HBO Max's Streaming Strategy With WarnerMedia CTO Jeremy Legg

    HBO Max may not be streaming to consumers until May 2020, but for Jeremy Legg, the hard work has already begun. The WarnerMedia chief technology officer is deep into the development of parent company AT&T’s highest priority next year. While rival efforts from Disney and Apple are already in market, he envisions launching a product [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content