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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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by Jason Snell

The first “Friday Night Baseball” games are set

Apple’s first foray into live sports streaming debuts on April 8:

Apple and Major League Baseball today announced the first half of the 2022 “Friday Night Baseball” schedule. These scheduled games are available to anyone with internet access, for free, only on Apple TV+. “Friday Night Baseball” will premiere April 8 with two marquee games.

Key takeaways from this press release:

  • Apple says that the games it announced Tuesday, which cover the first half of the season, will be accessible for free. If you have Internet access, you can get them—you won’t need to pay for Apple TV+. (We’ll see if Apple gives the whole season away, or if the second half will be for Apple TV+ subscribers only.)
  • As anticipated, Apple will be broadcasting two games with staggered start times, with the second game being a game from a west-coast (or at least western) site. Given the relatively smaller number of western teams (only eight of baseball’s 30 teams are in the Pacific or Mountain time zones), it’s probably safe to guess that a disproportionate number of Friday-night games hosted by western teams will be pulled off local TV and put on Apple TV+. The initial schedule features home games involving the Angels (three times), Dodgers (twice), Diamondbacks (twice), Athletics, Giants, Mariners, and Rockies. The Astros, a Central time zone team, also appear once. First-game times vary from 6:30 to 8 ET; second-game start times are between 8 and 10 ET.

  • The second game on baseball’s annual Jackie Robinson Day will feature the Dodgers, as is only right.

  • “Friday Night Baseball” will be seen in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and the UK. This may explain why the Angels are appearing three times, given Shohei Ohtani’s international appeal. I assume the Friday Night Baseball branding will remain intact even though the games will air on Saturday in Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

  • Beyond the game, “Friday Night Baseball” will include live pre- and post-game shows. However, Apple hasn’t announced who might be hosting those shows, the broadcast teams for the games, or what “production enhancements” might exist to take advantage of the streaming-only format. Apple promises that information will be forthcoming at a later time.

Even if you don’t care about baseball, it will be interesting to see how Apple approaches this package. And I care about baseball, so I’ll be watching even more closely.

—Linked by Jason Snell

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