LOS ANGELES—YouTube will be taking fans to the ball game as it announced an agreement with Major League Baseball to live-stream 13 games during the 2019 season worldwide, including exclusive rights in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
The deal marks YouTube’s first exclusive live distribution partnership with MLB. The games, which will be available for free, will take place during the second half of the 2019 season and are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. The games will be available through MLB’s official YouTube channel and on a dedicated YouTube TV channel in North America. Internationally, the games will be distributed on YouTube with the exception of 23 territories due to existing rights deals.
Part of the game broadcasts will include pre- and post-game shows and MLB- and YouTube-themed content, like as of yet to named, popular YouTube creators. MLB Network will produce the game broadcasts for YouTube.
YouTube has had a previous partnership with MLB and its 30 teams, offering highlights and classic games through its platform. Starting in 2017, YouTube TV has been the presenting sponsor of the World Series, and last year the MLB Network was added to the YouTube TV channel lineup.
"YouTube is an enormously popular video platform with impressive global reach and has served a great environment for baseball fans to consume the game they love," said Chris Tully, MLB executive vice president, Global Media. "We are excited to expand our partnership with YouTube to provide fans with an exclusive, customized live game viewing experience. With the media consumption habits of our fans continuing to evolve, MLB is committed both to expanding our roster of national broadcast platforms and to presenting live games in new ways to our fans."
Facebook had a similar deal in 2018 that saw it exclusively broadcast 25 games through Facebook Watch. Facebook Watch is still broadcasting games for the 2019 season, but the total has been cut down to six.
Financial terms of the deal between YouTube and MLB were not disclosed.