Strikeout: Google’s YouTube TV and Major League Baseball failed reach a renewal for MLB Network before it expired at the end of January, and as a result the channel is no longer available on the internet streaming package.
As of Jan. 31, 2023, the MLB Network was dropped from the YouTube TV lineup. In addition, YouTube TV customers have lost any previously recordings made from MLB Network on the cloud DVR.
“With spring training about to start, we regret that YouTube TV has been unwilling to negotiate a fair carriage agreement,” MLB Network said in a statement. “MLB Network has offered terms consistent with what close to 300 other U.S. providers have agreed to for distribution.”
YouTube said it hopes to eventually reach a deal to restore MLB Network to the over-the-top service. “We have held good-faith negotiations with MLB for several months to renew our deal to continue carrying their content on YouTube TV,” a spokesperson for the streaming service said. “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we were unable to reach a new agreement before our existing one expired.”
The YouTube TV rep added, “MLB is a long-standing and important partner to YouTube, so we’ll continue our conversations with them.”
In 2023, MLB Network plans to air more than 250 live regular season and spring training games. In addition, it will carry MLB Network Showcase telecasts, the MLB First-Year Player Draft, the MLB Draft Combine, the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, live on-site coverage from the World Baseball Classic, MLB London Series, All-Star Game and World Series, and at least seven different daily studio shows, including the Emmy-winning “MLB Tonight.”
While MLB Network has gone dark on YouTube TV, customers will still be able to continue watching select national MLB games through coverage on Fox, ESPN and TBS, the internet company noted. Last summer, Google said YouTube TV had more than 5 million customers including those on free trials, making it the biggest internet TV service in the U.S.
The standoff between YouTube TV and MLB Network comes after Google just inked a rich deal for NFL’s Sunday Ticket on YouTube — which, for the first time starting with the 2023 season, will be available to anyone in the U.S. without the purchase of a pay-TV package (as has been the case with long-time distributor DirecTV).
Under the seven-year pact, Google will reportedly pay the NFL at least $2 billion per year for Sunday Ticket. Sunday Ticket could turn out to be a loss-leader for YouTube as the video giant looks to siphon away more TV ad dollars and sign up more YouTube TV customers.