Major League Baseball and YouTube are continuing their partnership for a third consecutive season.
MLB announced Monday morning that its MLB Game of the Week Live on YouTube will premiere April 7 with the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays facing the Boston Red Sox at 1 p.m. ET. That will be the first of three April streaming telecasts, followed by Angels-Astros on April 22 and Twins-Indians scheduled for April 28.
Altogether, YouTube will have 21 exclusive MLB broadcasts during the 2021 season, each produced by MLB Network. That’s up from the 13 broadcasts available during the 2019 season and four that were streamed last year (two of which were exclusive).
For that April 7 broadcast, Scott Braun will be back on the play-by-play call with returning analyst John Smoltz joined by Carlos Pena. Pregame coverage will begin 30 minutes before the game’s scheduled start time, hosted by MLB Network’s Stephen Nelson and Bill Ripken.
No word on whether or not we’ll see the same announcing team for all 21 YouTube broadcasts. Probably not, depending on the broadcasters’ schedules. Even last season, Braun partnered with rotating analysts and reporters for a four-game package.
As with last year, the broadcasts will include several in-game features, including a live chat with commentary from several sports-focused YouTube creators and polls for viewers to participate in that will connect with the game broadcasters. YouTube TV subscribers will also be able to rewatch key plays from the game and follow real-time stats.
“The creator piece is, we think, a little bit of YouTube’s special sauce,” YouTube’s head of sports and news partnerships Tim Katz told Awful Announcing’s Andrew Bucholtz last year. “It’s something that’s really unique to our community and our audience and our users. Many of them have huge followings on the platform. It’s just really what our users are accustomed to coming to the platform and seeing.”
“And we think our creators represent two things. One, for MLB, it’s a way they can bring in new fans or casual fans to watch the games and watch the games alongside their favorite creators, it’s a nice way to grow and expand the sport. But then second of course, it’s a great opportunity for those creators as well to engage with people around baseball. And we’re passionate about creating ways for them to interact with their audience.”
Viewers can set reminders for the three upcoming YouTube MLB broadcasts at YouTube.com/MLB.