With the rise of streaming over the past several years, it’s become easier to find video coverage of almost any sporting event. Many organizations have struck streaming deals with media companies, while some have started distributing their content themselves.
But it’s rare to see a constant push for network-level or major-league-level quality in many of those organization-streamed events. And it’s rarer still to see an organization take big events that had previously found success through more conventional linear distribution to their own streaming platform. That’s the approach baseball and softball prospect-focused company Perfect Game is currently doing with their PerfectGame.tv service.
The 1995-founded company launched PerfectGame.tv in 2020. At launch, they announced they’d take live coverage of all their premier events to their digital platforms, including that website, the associated PGTV app, and their YouTube channel. That comprises the annual PG All-American Classic, the 12u-13u-14u SelectFestivals, the 13u-14u-Junior-National Showcases, and much more, including the upcoming Feb. 2-4 Panama City Beach College Baseball Classic (which will see Sirius XM host and former Mets’ GM Steve Phillips join Emmy-winning PGTV executive producer and host Daron Sutton in the booth). These streaming platforms are also the home of their on-demand broadcasts.
And those streaming platforms are seeing solid numbers. For example, earlier this month, PGTV did their first-ever live broadcasts from the American Baseball Coaches Association convention in Dallas. Sutton, Hunter Pence and Dani Wexelman anchored the coverage, broadcasting more than 40 interviews with coaches, prominent former players, and more live for three hours each on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They drew more than 69,000 total viewers for that.
The PGTV live game coverage tends to do even better. Last summer, they did a massive amount of coverage around their marquee All-American Classic, broadcasting the inaugural Perfect Game All-Star Game (36 top 2025 and 2026 high school prospects), the awards dinner, the home run challenge, and the feature game itself (on the same field less than two hours after the home run challenge, only possible thanks to bringing in a second production truck). The feature game saw more than 40,000 people tuning in to the live broadcast, and the other events also drew strong live and repeat numbers.
In an in-depth conversation last fall, PGTV’s Sutton (who’s worked for five MLB teams as a host and/or broadcaster) and senior director, media production Jim Jenks (who’s worked in senior roles for ESPN, The Philadelphia Inquirer, MLB Advanced Media, MLB Network, and more) spoke to AA about what they’re doing with PGTV, and why they’ve made the choice to go away from previous deals with other networks (for live content; they still have some for syndication and replays) to emphasize their own platform. Sutton said the initial launch was both faster and more comprehensive than initially conceived because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We launched PGTV in 2020, kind of shoved it into the deep end because of the pandemic. We had plans to build it, and with our newer ownership and the content history that several of us had been fortunate enough to build through a five- or six-year span, we were ready, but we jumped quicker because folks were consuming at home a lot more than ever. And we’ve learned so much.”
Jenks said their moves to go more and more towards PGTV, including with top events like the All-American Classic, have been from a combination of the costs others were asking for and the success they were finding with their own platforms.
“One, it was getting more and more difficult to find a broadcast carrier that wouldn’t charge us for our own content. Quite simply, that was really what was driving that. And on the other side, we were producing numbers through our own network, through PGTV and our affiliate clients, that were going to dwarf the numbers we were going to get from the traditional legacy broadcaster.
“It just made more and more sense. Believe me, it was discussed throughout the year, whether the time was right, should we do it now. And I think we came to a consensus as things got closer; we weren’t hearing back from certain carriers with a positive note, or they wanted money. So we went in this direction, and I think all in all, it was the right thing to do.”
Sutton said shifting the All-American Classic to PerfectGame.tv has been a particularly huge move for them.
“We’ve always been proud of what we’ve done. Whether it be our documentaries, features, weekly shows, with that quality, they could air anywhere, traditional or streaming services. But for us too, along with what Jim’s saying on the X’s and O’s, conceptually, if you’re going to grow something that you tell others you believe in and it’s going to grow and the numbers are telling you that, why not take your Super Bowl and put it on there? And I think the two went hand in hand.”
But he said he was reluctant to move that game from established networks at first.
“I was one who had to be pulled kicking and screaming. And Jim knows this from a lot of calls: I had fostered the MLB Network relationship, Jim had fostered the ESPN relationship, I always felt it looked pretty neat on the marketing material to have those logos.
“But I think for us, seeing the 40,000 views of the All-American Classic, and that’s not going back and watching now, that’s watching live, I don’t know that we would have done that kind of number on traditional television. On the tech side, Jim’s factor is right. And then for us, sooner or later, if you believe in what you’re doing, go ahead and go for it.”
Jenks said one key advantage they get from keeping the All-American Classic in-house is that they can show replays as soon as they want, something that wasn’t possible under previous deals.
“Whenever you go to a broadcaster, they want an exclusivity period on the content, which when you think about it, makes no sense for us. …We could have had 40,000 on the repeat too for people who just realized it was there after the fact when they started seeing the social media stuff come in and everything driving to the channel. It just made sense. But we had to talk it through, it wasn’t an easy decision. And now that it’s done, I think we made the right decision.”
And Sutton said keeping that content on their platforms encouraged them to go much bigger with the broadcast content around this latest All-American Classic, including a live broadcast of the home run derby on the same field as the marquee game and only shortly before and a broadcast of the underclass game. Sutton said watching what other leagues have done with weekend events was a factor there.
“This is the first time we’ve really been that ambitious with our content, too. It definitely built. And it follows what has been, whether it be an All-Star Weekend or the [Super Bowl] experience in the NFL when there’s the content around it building up to it. I think Jim gets all the credit in the world for talking about this in meetings in the months leading up, saying ‘We have a home run challenge, why aren’t we streaming it?’ Because it turns out to be a sexier event with the big boys [at MLB All-Star Weekend] than even the game.
“And then the underclass game, which kind of represents a futures game. By no means was it a straight copy. but for us, it built a lot of numbers, and I think it opens up a diversity of programming. We have the traditional weekly studio show, we’re doing that well, we’re doing college baseball and softball shows regularly, but to do this was a fun undertaking.”
Jenks said even beyond the broadcasts, they also handled the awards banquet, and that let them show off the content they’d produced all year.
“We also orchestrated the banquet coverage. We did the banquet, Daron as he usually does was an awesome MC, and we used our content to supplement and complement everything that we could to show the year, the highlights, the individuals, to introduce the former major leaguers that were there.”
Sutton said having two different production trucks was key to pulling off so much in a short span.
“And it was multi-tiered; it was a broadcast-level truck that was there for Sunday, but then it was our team led by Jim, led by Steve Banta, who’s our partner in content creation and owns his own truck. So we had two trucks doing two separate feeds, two separate booths. So it was a fun undertaking, and I’m proud of what the entire team did.”
Jenks said moving to their own platforms rather than networks was also key to getting the home run challenge in right before the game, which let them bring new features to it.
“We’ve never done the home run challenge finals on Sunday because of the network limitations that we had with them. We don’t have those now. So it was ‘Let’s open this up.’
“And that allowed us, for the home run challenge, we had major leaguers on the field, we had the kids when they got done, we had many more on-field interviews than we’d ever be able to do in a game situation. And that’s content for the kids. And in the end, we’re doing it for the kids, their parents, their families, and then the viewers, who are really an extended family.”
He said this was an ambitious plan, especially given their small numbers of full-time staff, but it worked out.
“Starting at the top, we have the support of our ownership to go and push and challenge each other. I would say that it was on the verge of overwhelming; you can count the full-time PGTV media people on one hand, so we have to surround ourselves with talent from all over, freelance, contract, and we do, and with our partners at B Live and our editing and shooting partners that we’ve had relationships with long before I got there, and our support staff. [Sutton] mentioned Steve Banta, I’ll mention [production manager] Chloe Brough, and then you have the whole full-time staff.
“So we are doing that with an amazing amount of camaraderie, and I’ll come right out and say it, love for what we are doing. And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Dani Wexelman, who has been with us, she was with me at MLB and went to PG, and she’s just blossomed, she’s working Major League Baseball, she’s working college baseball.
“So, it sounds sappy, but we are a family and we challenge each other. So I challenged everybody when I said ‘We’re going to do three days of live content and yeah, we’re going to do the home run derby finals off a different truck than the game truck only an hour and 45 minutes before the game starts.’ There was a lot of scurrying. It was right there on the cusp of being overwhelming, but everybody rose and it came out fantastic, and we’re proud of it.”
Sutton said doing that many broadcasts in a weekend was challenging, but worth it.
“It was incredibly rewarding when it was all said and done. We also produced and shot a syndicated television show throughout all that as well, which had original content.”
Read on for more of Sutton and Jenks’ thoughts on Perfect Game, the All-American Classic, and the importance of storytelling in prospect coverage.