“Friday Night Baseball” on Apple TV+ will return this year to air two games on each Friday for 25 weeks of the season, according to a press release. The schedule set through June 30 includes two Royals games, the May 12 game in Milwaukee against the Brewers and the June 9 game in Baltimore against the Orioles.
These games will be available exclusively to subscribers of Apple TV+ - meaning they will not air on Bally Sports Kansas City - and will not be subject to blackout restrictions. The broadcast crew includes Wayne Randazzo (play-by-play), Dontrelle Willis (analyst), Heidi Watney (sideline reporter), Alex Faust (play-by-play), Ryan Spilborghs (analyst), and Tricia Whitaker (sideline reporter). Lauren Gardner and Siera Santos host pre- and post-game coverage with former players Xavier Scruggs and Matt Joyce, writer Russell Dorsey, and former umpires Brian Gorman and Dale Scott.
Last year’s broadcast had mixed results, with Apple TV+ approaching the game more like a Twitch feed. This year’s broadcasts will be more of a traditional broadcast, with Katie Nolan and Melanie Newman no longer on the broadcast team. The Royals appeared last year in an April 29 matchup against the Yankees.
In addition to games, Apple TV+ will produce MLB content such as a MLB Big Inning whip-around show featuring live look-ins and in-game highlights, Countdown to First Pitch, MLB Daily Recap, and MLB This Week. Apple signed a deal for broadcast rights to games in 2022 that will pay $85 million annually to MLB. Apple TV+ costs subscribers $6.99 month and includes access to shows like Ted Lasso, Shrinking, and For All Mankind in addition to several films and other original content.
Having games on different platforms can be confusing and expensive for fans, but it does provide a more national platform to expose the game (and of course, all that money for teams!) And for those of you that have been blacked out, these games won’t have any such restrictions, provided you are already subscribing to watch Ted Lasso! But you have to wonder if this fragmented approach to broadcasting is sustainable. College sports continue to operate on several different platforms, but MLS recently signed a major deal with Apple to broadcast all of their games in one place, making it simpler for fans. Perhaps that is the future with baseball eventually. In the meantime, I’ll be giving my money to Tim Cook.