YouTube has announced a deal with Major League Baseball (MLB), granting the entertainment platform exclusive rights to live-stream 13 games during the 2019 season.
The deal will see the 13 games exclusively broadcast in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico live for free on the MLB’s official YouTube channel and on a forthcoming dedicated channel on YouTube TV.
Due to the nature of the deal, the games will be available on YouTube internationally, with the exception of 23 territories due to existing rights deal, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Germany.
This deal extends the work YouTube and the MLB have done together in recent years, including the video platform hosting highlights and classic games for over a decade.
In addition, YouTube TV was the first-ever presenting sponsor of the World Series in 2017 and last year, also added MLB Network to the YouTube TV channel line-up, providing a paid option for fans to follow the MLB.
YouTube head of sports and news partnerships, Timothy Katz, told Variety.com this is a fantastic opportunity for YouTube to use their global reach to push the MLB internationally.
“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.
“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,” Mr Katz said.
MLB’s executive VP of global media, Chris Tully, also told Variety.com this shows how the MLB is evolving to reach fans all around the world.
“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,” Mr Tully said.
This deal further evidences the work the MLB has done to ensure they maintain relevant as a sporting organisation with the rise of technology and other sports and entertainment services that threaten to lessen fan engagement with sports.
In 2018, the MLB’s YouTube channel received 1.25 billion views, which was up almost 25% from 2017, showing the effectiveness of YouTube as an international platform to reach large numbers of audiences.