Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees is greeted by teammate Aaron Judge #99 after he hit a two-run home run in the first inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals on Thursday, July 23 at Nationals Park. 2020 in Washington, DC.
Alex Trautwig | Major League Baseball | Getty Images
This Friday, the most anticipated sports competition will not be shown on TV.
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Apple’s streaming service has exclusive rights to the Red Sox at the Yankees on Friday. Read also : Fox Sports tore to put graphics on top of the September 11 memorial image in New York during the Red Sox’s broadcast against the Yankees. The game has drawn attention not only because the Yankees are likely in the playoffs and playing their archrival, but also because their star slugger, Aaron Judge, is closing in on the American League home run record and could break it on Friday.
It’s a big test of Apple’s ambitions to become a live sports service, and whether high-profile games can boost Apple’s subscriber base or serve other business goals, such as making Apple’s products more valuable to current users. Apple’s baseball broadcasts don’t follow any team, instead picking a marquee game or two every Friday night. But while there have been high-profile games and big stars this year, this Friday sees the biggest star on baseball’s most valuable team chasing a decades-old record.
Sports broadcasts can be a powerful tool to attract users to new services. For example, when Amazon Prime aired Thursday Night Football last week, it drew the most new Prime signups in a three-hour period in the company’s history, surpassing big shopping days like Black Friday, according to a memo seen by CNBC.
This means that pro football is still much bigger than baseball in the US. (13 million people tuned in to Amazon’s NFL broadcast last week, according to Nielsen; 400,000 viewers is a good night for the YES network, according to the New York Daily News. Amazon is part owner of YES.)
When Apple began streaming MLB earlier this year, it said the games would be free for a “limited time” but has yet to charge for access to baseball games. Currently, users only need an Apple ID — an account — but don’t have to pay $5 a month for Apple TV+. Although the service is free, some users have expressed frustration that the games are not on their regular channel on their regular broadcasters.
Anticipation for Friday’s game is so high that the Yankees’ home channel YES has tried unsuccessfully to rip the show back from Apple, the New York Post reported Thursday.
Apple has never released subscriber numbers or viewers for any of its Apple TV+ shows or shows. It approaches quality over quantity and focuses on awards as a key indicator to judge the success of shows with this script.
Abandoning historical preferences, it has made Apple TV+ apps for several non-Apple platforms, including Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV, Google TV and game consoles, allowing its broadcasts to reach a wider market.
In addition to baseball, Apple also has an agreement with Major League Soccer to broadcast only its matches. But the NFL remains the biggest prize in sports streaming. As CNBC previously reported, Apple made a bid for NFL Sunday Ticket, a package of rights to out-of-market NFL games, competing with Amazon and ESPN parent Disney.
Apple declined to comment on viewership numbers.