In the ongoing race to collect live sports streaming content, chalk up another point for YouTube TV over competitors like Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.
Major League Baseball announced on Thursday that it has renewed its partnership with YouTube TV, making YouTube TV the “presenting sponsor” of the 2018 and 2019 World Series. This means that everywhere you see the World Series logo, you’ll also see the YouTube TV logo. But YouTube will also be able to use MLB players in more of its advertising going forward, not just around the World Series.
More importantly, the extended deal will bring the entire MLB postseason to YouTube TV subscribers for the first time. (YouTube TV launched in April 2017 and costs $35 per month, increasing to $40 on March 13.) YouTube TV already offered Fox, which has the rights to the World Series, but MLB Network airs some of the League Division Series games, and MLB Network will hit YouTube TV this week. Add Fox and MLB Network to TBS, which YouTube TV announced in February, and that’s the full MLB Playoffs on YouTube TV. The platform now also gets every nationally broadcast Spring Training game and regular season game.
In addition, MLB.tv will be available to YouTube TV subscribers for an extra fee—news that was included (though somewhat buried) in YouTube’s announcement of a slew of new sports content back in February. MLB.tv would allow a YouTube TV subscriber to watch regular season out-of-market games.
YouTube was the first ever “presenting sponsor” of the World Series last year, and, “It turns out that our fans are interacting with them in a higher way than they’ve seen before,” MLB EVP of commerce Noah Garden tells Yahoo Finance. “It turns out that the people who are buying YouTube TV are interested a lot in baseball.”
Of course, YouTube isn’t the only place that has MLB streaming. Dish Network’s Sling TV offers regular season out-of-market games of 20 MLB teams. AT&T DirecTV Now shows any MLB games that air on Fox or Turner channels like TBS. And both DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue have MLB Network.
And just this week, one day after announcing the YouTube TV extension, Major League Baseball finalized a deal with Facebook to stream 25 afternoon games; Bloomberg reports the deal was worth $30 million to $35 million.
“Our philosophy has been, if it has a button or you can plug it in, we should be on it,” says Garden. “You can’t really dictate where your fans are going. The different devices people use and the way they consume content has changed so dramatically, even over the last 12 months. So as a result, right now, the strategy is to be everywhere.”
Consider the sponsorship extension a win for YouTube in its close race with Amazon for sports streaming. MLB has a tech relationship with Amazon (AWS powers MLB Statcast) but does not stream any of its games on Amazon Prime. Last month, YouTube TV added Turner channels and MLB Network, while Amazon Prime announced it will start selling UFC fights. The two giants are going toe for toe in signing new deals with a whole host of leagues, small and large, in an effort to win over cord-cutting sports fans.