Apple TV+ drops its free offering for ‘Friday Night Baseball,’ expands games to 45+ countries
Apple and Major League Baseball (MLB) announced today new updates to its “Friday Night Baseball” offering. The games are now available to Apple TV+ subscribers in 60 countries, up from the original 13. However, the first 12 weeks of games this year will no longer be free for everyone and will require an Apple TV+ subscription ($6.99/month) to watch.
Other announcements arriving today include new broadcast talent and a deal with DirecTV for Business.
It’s not entirely clear why Apple isn’t doing the free offering anymore. Since the 2022 MLB season was its first time getting a live sports deal, it’s likely the company only offered the free games to persuade new users to subscribe to the service. Apple didn't respond to requests for comment.
Notably, the streamer launched its MLS Season Pass subscription this year, which allows users to watch “MLS is Back” opening weekend for free as well as other MLS-related content.
Now that it’s the second year that Apple TV+ has been the exclusive home of “Friday Night Baseball,” users have no choice but to click "Subscribe" if they want to watch live games. Non-subscribers can still access free recaps of the game after the live broadcasts are finished. They can also access other MLB programming for free, including highlights and interviews.
Apple TV+ offers a seven-day free trial, so you could technically watch one game for free. Plus, every new purchase of an Apple device comes with three months free of Apple TV+.
Previously, “Friday Night Baseball” was only available in the United States, the U.K., Canada, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico and South Korea.
The games will also now be available in Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines, Argentina, Panama, Honduras, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Uganda, Hong Kong, Peru, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala and Venezuela, among others. There are no local broadcast restrictions for marquee matchups, making “Friday Night Baseball” accessible to even more Apple TV+ subscribers.
Apple also announced that it’s getting a new broadcast team, which includes Wayne Randazzo and Alex Faust for the play-by-play and Dontrelle Willis and Ryan Spilborghs as analysts. Heidi Watney will return as a sideline reporter alongside Tricia Whitaker. Also, new this season, two people will be in the booth for each game, and one person will be on the sideline.
For the pre- and postgame coverage, Lauren Gardner will host again, however, Siera Santos will occasionally fill in as the host. The analysts will be former MLB players Xavier Scruggs and Matt Joyce, as well as baseball journalist Russell Dorsey.
Given MLB’s new rules for the 2023 season, former MLB umpires Brian Gorman and Dale Scott will also join the team to explain them to viewers. The changes include a pitch timer, bigger bases and more.
Starting on April 7, subscribers get access to weekly doubleheaders over the course of 25 weeks, plus live pre- and postgame coverage, in-game highlights and MLB-related content like “MLB Daily Recap,” “MLB This Week” and “Countdown to First Pitch.” Note that the “MLB Big Inning” whip-around show, which begins MLB Opening Day on March 30, is only available to fans in the U.S. and Canada.
Viewers can watch Apple TV+’s “Friday Night Baseball” on the Apple TV app, which is available on iOS devices, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast with Google TV, Roku devices, select smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony, TCL, Vizio and others), PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles and set-top boxes (Sky Q, SK Broadband and Comcast Xfinity). You can also go to tv.apple.com.
Fans in the U.S. that want to watch the games away from home are also in luck.
In a new deal, DirecTV Business is now the exclusive national home of “Friday Night Baseball” in over 300,000 restaurants, bars, hotel lounges, retail shops and other venues. The announcement comes on the heels of DirecTV for Business entering a deal with Apple to provide MLS Season Pass games to patrons.
Apple TV+’s “Friday Night Baseball” 2023 Schedule
Texas Rangers at Chicago Cubs - 2 p.m. ET
San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves - 7 p.m. ET
San Francisco Giants at Detroit Tigers - 6:30 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Angels at Boston Red Sox - 7 p.m. ET
Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees - 7 p.m. ET
Houston Astros at Atlanta Braves - 7 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Phillies at Houston Astros - 8 p.m. ET
St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers - 10 p.m. ET
Chicago White Sox at Cincinnati Reds - 6:30 p.m. ET
Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Guardians - 7 p.m. ET
Kansas City Royals at Milwaukee Brewers - 8 p.m. ET
Chicago Cubs at Minnesota Twins - 8 p.m. ET
Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays - 7 p.m. ET
Seattle Mariners at Atlanta Braves - 7 p.m. ET
San Diego Padres at New York Yankees - 7 p.m. ET
Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers - 6:30 p.m. ET
Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds - 5 p.m. ET
Cleveland Guardians at Minnesota Twins - 8 p.m. ET
Kansas City Royals at Baltimore Orioles - 7 p.m. ET
Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels - 9:30 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers - 8 p.m. ET
Chicago White Sox at Seattle Mariners - 10 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh Pirates at Miami Marlins - 6:30 p.m. ET
New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies - 7 p.m. ET
Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7 p.m. ET
Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Angels - 9:30 p.m. ET