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Apple TV+’s Friday Night Baseball is a good thing, actually

Do not sleep on this!

(L-R) Christa Miller, Jason Segel, Jessica Williams and Brett Goldstein attend the Deadline Contenders Television event Photo by Randy Shropshire/Deadline via Getty Images

When it was first announced that Apple TV+ was going to be getting exclusive rights to broadcast some baseball games on Friday nights throughout the regular season I was furious. I already pay a large sum of money to stream those games through Many of you do likewise or have cable, satellite, or other internet TV packages you use for the same reason. Adding another streaming service fee to watch our team or else having to miss out on them a couple of times a year seemed like a ridiculous cash grab.

I’m here to tell you, however, that in creating this cash grab MLB and Apple+ are actually doing us a huge favor. And that is not the usual Royals brand of favor where they’re encouraging you to not watch a bad team. As it turns out, getting an Apple TV+ subscription might be the smartest thing you could do.

If you’re like me, you’ve been sleeping on pretty much every streaming service since Netflix. We all wanted to do internet streaming to AVOID having to pay vast amounts of money to a variety of services to watch all the most entertaining content. As each TV channel, studio, and startup created their own streaming service the content became more and more diluted to the point that none of them were worth it. Netflix is the worst offender, now, without old standbys like Friends or The Office to prop it up and without the high quality of content they were putting out in the early days of Orange is the New Black and House of Cards but with the highest prices. And now they’ve added anti-consumer policies meant to prevent password sharing that will cause many people to cancel because it takes a certain number of family or friends together to justify the cost of a Netflix subscription.

Other services, like Max (formerly HBO Max) and Disney+, which at first offered a reasonable amount of excellent content have introduced their own anti-consumer and anti-creator policies of flatly removing content from their streaming services without warning or any alternative means of legally viewing said content. Some might argue that if the content isn’t available legally you’re within morality to view such content illegally but even if you subscribe to such a view - and I am not condoning it *wink* - the fact remains that doing so doesn’t support the creators which makes it harder for them to make more content you might enjoy.

Enter Apple TV+. At only $6.99 a month, it’s considerably cheaper than most other streaming services out there right now, and that’s a price point that still includes no ads, other than for other Apple TV+ shows - which is a good thing, but we’ll get into that in a moment. There are also all kinds of deals out there which will allow you to get some free trial time. At a base level, you can try it for a week. However, if you purchase an Apple product such as an iPhone or MacBook, those come with free trial periods as well. I finally got hooked after using a deal that got me a whopping six months free through my PlayStation 5. Any owner of a PS4 or PS5 can get a three-month free trial if they sign up any time between now and the end of July.

So, yeah, it’s cheap. But do they have anything to watch? Well, beyond Friday Night Baseball, most of you have probably heard of Ted Lasso, which is about to air its series finale after three seasons. That means you can binge one of the best shows on the internet during a free trial period if you’re industrious in your seven days, or more easily with one of the three-month trials for having purchased one of the relevant devices. It was the combination of Ted Lasso and Friday Night Baseball that finally convinced me to give the service a go. But that’s where the Apple TV+ ads are so valuable.

People still talk about all kinds of Netflix and HBO Max releases as they come out. I even regularly hear about Hulu and Paramount+ releases. But outside of the Apple TV+ app, I never heard of new shows on that platform. The only commercial I can remember seeing is the goofy one where Timothée Chalamet was sad about not having an Apple TV+ show, which is an advertisement for the service, not a particular show. Those ads became vital as I watched Ted Lasso and received ads for Severance. When I finally gave in and watched Severance I got ads for Shrinking. When I watched Shrinking I got ads for Mythic Quest. On and on. And the thing I discovered is that Apple TV+ isn’t just cheap, it’s full of excellent shows.

If you listen to the Royals Rundown podcast regularly - and I hope you do, we have an excellent time recording those and I think you will too, on top of getting some excellent Royals analysis - you know that I’ve recommended all of those shows at various points. I don’t recommend everything I watch, there’s a lot of stuff out there - even things I enjoy - that just aren’t high quality enough for me to give them a general recommendation. Every show I’ve watched on Apple TV+ has been that good. And there are so many more I haven’t gotten to watch yet that look equally good. The Big Door Prize, Foundation, Schmigadoon, and The Last Thing He Told Me have all caught my eye. And that’s leaving out some excellent-looking original films such as Tetris and Ghosted.

As far as I can tell, Apple TV+ has the hard-to-measure skill of bringing in big-name talent to enhance properties rather than overwhelm them. Shrinking has Jason Segel and Harrison Ford, either one could absolutely derail the project if they weren’t perfectly cast in their roles - but they are! Chris Evans brings a certain amount of star power to anything he does, but he lacks the ego of other big stars which allows him to be perfect in something like Ghosted. And, at least for now, Apple TV+ doesn’t have the bad habit of canceling shows before they have a chance to breathe like Netflix, nor of removing shows like Max.

If you’ve made it this far you’re probably wondering how much they paid me to write this. The answer, of course, is nothing. If you know anything about how SB Nation pays us to write here you already know that all of us are the kind of crazy who absolutely write for far less money than we should be making simply for the love of doing it. My humble suggestion that Friday Night Baseball is of benefit to you because it encourages you to try Apple TV+, which is genuinely excellent, comes from a place of truly feeling it, not because anyone paid me to do so.

I’m sure a lot of you are going to ignore this article. A handful of you will leave snarky comments accusing me of being a corporate shill. Those reactions are well-earned, so I’ll accept them with the grace they are due. But if I’ve inspired any of you to check out a streaming service that is somehow putting out a large number of shows in a wide variety that are some of the best things I’ve seen on TV in a long time, it will have been worth it to me. Just like that Friday Night Baseball deal ended up being worth it to get me on board in the first place.

*An earlier version of this article used the term “anti-consumerist” instead of “anti-consumer.” The author’s intent was always the definition of the latter rather than the former and so the article has been updated to reflect this reality.