Yesterday Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed they’d struck a deal with MLB for an exclusive slate of game broadcasts on Apple TV+.
The Friday night doubleheaders mark the latest sign that Apple is very serious about getting into live sports, on the heels of the tech giant’s reported interest in a big slice of available NFL properties.
The basics of the Apple deal, from our post yesterday:
As part of the agreement, Apple will air a weekly Friday night doubleheader on Apple TV+, including pregame and postgame coverage. Additionally, the deal contains a live show called MLB Big Inning, which sounds like a typical whiparound show.
The Friday Night Baseball games will be available in not just the US, but also Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and the UK.
Of note: the games in Apple’s package are exclusive, meaning they won’t air locally on RSNs. It was long assumed that these games wouldn’t be exclusive, much like ESPN’s previous midweek package.
Today, Mike Ozanian has a piece at Forbes with the financials of the Apple deal and also the yet-to-be-announced deal with NBC for a slate of games headed to Peacock. The numbers are a fascinating look, especially given the current lockout and labor situation.
The new multi-year streaming deal between Major League Baseball and Apple is worth $85 million annually over seven years, according to several sources familiar with the agreement who spoke with Forbes on the condition of anonymity because the discussions were private. Under terms of the new pact, Apple will pay a $55 million rights fee and $30 million worth of advertising. Apple gets exclusive rights to telecast two “Friday Night Baseball” games each week (about 50 a season) in the U.S. and to eight countries overseas, via its Apple TV Plus. Apple has the right to exit the agreement after the first or second years.
In addition, Forbes has learned that MLB has come to terms with a two-year streaming deal with Comcast’s NBC Sports for the Monday and Wednesday Night games ESPN did not pick up in its new agreement with MLB, mainly to stream on Peacock. This deal starts this season and is worth $30 million annually.
That’s a pretty hefty addition to MLB’s annual revenue, although considering the billions the league brings in via national broadcast rights alone, an extra $100 million doesn’t represent a massive percentage increase. But it does highlight, again, that being an MLB owner comes with widespread built-in advantages over other businesses.
From the league’s perspective, getting into business with Apple is probably not a bad thing, especially considering Apple seems very serious about their sports push. They’re the world’s richest corporation, and while there are real concerns about whether consumers will follow MLB to services like Apple TV+, the league clearly views it as the right long-term play.
Of course, all of this is conjecture until games actually start being played again, which at the moment doesn’t feel likely in the near future.