Earlier this month, Apple announced its first live sports deal with Major League Baseball to bring a number of games and other MLB content to the Apple TV+ service for the 2022 season. Today, Apple unveiled the first 12 weeks of its “Friday Night Baseball” doubleheader schedule, which it now says will be freely available to anyone with internet access — without the need for an Apple TV+ subscription.
Previously, Apple had hinted some of its Friday Night games would be available for free for a “limited time,” but didn’t detail how many. The offering could entice more users to try out Apple TV+ before committing to a subscription. Apple confirmed to TechCrunch consumers won’t need to sign up for a TV+ subscription, nor a free trial, in order to stream the games for free.
Apple says the first half of its “Friday Night Baseball” schedule is set to premiere on April 8. The first game in the schedule will see the New York Mets facing off against the Washington Nationals, live from Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., at 7 PM ET. After that, Apple TV+ will broadcast the Houston Astros versus the Los Angeles Angels live from Angel Stadium at 9:30 PM ET.
The “Friday Night Baseball” doubleheader will then continue to be available to baseball fans across eight countries on Apple TV+ throughout the regular season. The first half of the schedule, which runs through June 24, can be found here. There’s no word yet on if Apple plans to make the Friday night games running in the second half of the season free, as well.
The start of the MLB season had been postponed due to a labor dispute, but that’s now resolved.
U.S. fans will also be able to tune in to a new live show called “MLB Big Inning,” which will feature highlights and look-ins and will air every night during the regular reason. And fans in both the U.S. and Canada will gain access to a new 24/7 livestream with MLB game replay, news, analysis, highlights, classic games and more, as well as on-demand programming that includes highlights and other original MLB content. The games and shows will stream across the Apple TV+ service, where they won’t be subject to local broadcast restrictions.
Apple also noted that the MLB will commemorate Jackie Robinson Day on April 15, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Hall of Famer’s Major League debut.
On that night, Apple’s “Friday Night Baseball” will run special coverage featuring former American League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Randy Arozarena, the Tampa Bay Rays visiting All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson and the Chicago White Sox. In addition, last season’s National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Jonathan India and the Cincinnati Reds will be hosted by 2020 National League MVP Freddie Freeman and his new Dodger teammates, as part of the celebration.
Apple says that other presentation details, including additional game schedules throughout the regular season, broadcast teams, production enhancements and pre- and post-game coverage will be announced at a later date.
The streaming service’s “Friday Night Baseball” offering will include live pre- and post-game shows.
Games will be available for streaming in the following countries:
- United States
- Puerto Rico
- South Korea
The new “Friday Night Baseball” schedule will mark Apple’s first foray into live sports, which is something it was reportedly looking to add to its streaming service for quite some time. However, the launch is also an example of how Apple is able to leverage its market position and sizable coffers to do something that other streamers could struggle with: offering free live sports as a means of marketing its service to potential subscribers.
The games can be accessed across devices where Apple TV+ is found, including on Apple’s TV app on iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV, along with select smart TVs, gaming consoles and cable set-top boxes.
Additional reporting: Sarah Perez