Apple Announces Broadcast Partnership With Major League Baseball

By Jason Hall

March 8, 2022

Photo: Getty Images

Major League Baseball will have a new broadcast partner whenever it resumes play.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reports Apple announced its partnership with MLB to carry games on Friday nights on its Apple TV+ streaming service at its 'Peek Performance' event on Tuesday (March 8).

Passan confirmed the games will air exclusively on the streaming service "starting this season," despite the current uncertain state of the 2022 MLB season amid the ongoing lockout and cancellation of early games.

"Major League Baseball's newest TV partner: Apple. At the company's event today, it announced a deal with the league to carry a Friday Night Baseball doubleheader on Apple TV+ starting this season. Games will be exclusively broadcast on the streaming service," Passan shared on his verified Twitter account .

Apple released a news release following the announcement which provided more details about its partnership.

"In addition to “Friday Night Baseball,” fans in the US will be able to enjoy “MLB Big Inning,” a live show featuring highlights and look-ins airing every weeknight during the regular season," the news release stated. Baseball fans in the US and Canada will also have access to a new 24/7 livestream with MLB game replays, news and analysis, highlights, classic games, and more, as well as a full complement of on-demand programming, including highlights and MLB-themed original content.

"Fans will be able to watch marquee games on Friday nights, free from local broadcast restrictions, across devices where Apple TV+ can be found, including on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV 4K and HD, and on tv.apple.com, along with select smart TVs, gaming consoles, and cable set-top boxes. “Friday Night Baseball” will be available on Apple TV+ — and, for a limited time, without the need for a subscription."

Last week, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred officially announced his decision "to cancel some regular season games" amid reports of failed negotiations with the league's players union.

The union reportedly rejected the league's final proposal on a new collective-bargaining agreement ahead of its deadline on March 1, with MLB threatening to cancel Opening Day ceremonies set for March 31, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported prior to Manfred's official announcement.

"BREAKING: MLBPA player leaders agreed unanimously not to accept MLB's final proposal, and there will be no deal on a new collective-bargaining agreement before MLB's 5 p.m. ET deadline, sources tell ESPN," Passan tweeted. "MLB has threatened to cancel its March 31 Opening Day without a new deal.

The league reportedly offered to feature an increase from $25 million to $30 million in a pre-artibration bonus pool for each year of a player's contract, but the union pitched for the pool to begin at $85 million and increase by $5 million annually during each year of the contract.

The league's final offer on Collective Balance Tax thresholds was the same as its previous one, which started at $220 million and was flat for three years before increasing to $224 million during the fourth year of a contract and $230 million during the fifth year.

The union requested the Collective Balance Tax to threshold to begin at $238 million and include annual increases of $244 million, $250 million, $256 million and $263 million during the final year.

MLB also offered to increase its standard league minimum salaries from $675,00 to $700,000, with $10,000 annual increases included, based on the recent decision to expand the playoffs to 12 teams and the addition of five lottery slots in the MLB Draft.

In December, MLB locked out its players, which marked the first work stoppage since the 1994-1995 and the first initiated by owners since 1990.

Passan initially reported the decision, which was later confirmed by Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred in a prepared statement shared on MLB.com entitled, "A letter to baseball fans."

"Simply put, we believe that an offseason lockout is the best mechanism to protect the 2022 season," Manfred said in the statement. "We hope that the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time. "This defensive lockout was necessary because the Players Association’s vision for Major League Baseball would threaten the ability of most teams to be competitive. It’s simply not a viable option. From the beginning, the MLBPA has been unwilling to move from their starting position, compromise, or collaborate on solutions.
"When we began negotiations over a new agreement, the Players Association already had a contract that they wouldn’t trade for any other in sports. Baseball’s players have no salary cap and are not subjected to a maximum length or dollar amount on contracts. In fact, only MLB has guaranteed contracts that run 10 or more years, and in excess of $300 million. We have not proposed anything that would change these fundamentals. While we have heard repeatedly that free agency is “broken” – in the month of November $1.7 billion was committed to free agents, smashing the prior record by nearly 4x. By the end of the offseason, Clubs will have committed more money to players than in any offseason in MLB history."
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