Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Cincinnati Reds on Jackie Robinson Day as MLB celebrated the 75th anniversary of his historic debut with Brooklyn, but with the game also came controversy.
The matchup featuring Robinson’s former team was broadcasted exclusively on Apple TV+ as part of MLB’s deal to air “Friday Night Baseball” on the tech company’s streaming platform. The league’s decision to put the game exclusively on Apple’s platform drew criticism with the argument it should have been more accessible.
Although the game was free for anyone and not subject to local blackout restrictions, it still would have required many fans to download Apple TV+ and create an account for a new service — a process that may have been more challenging for those less tech-savvy.
MLB is aware of the criticism and chief revenue officer Noah Garden responded by explaining their decision to put the Dodgers on Apple TV+ allowed more people to watch the game than if it was just on local broadcasts, per Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:
This is one of the most important pieces of Major League Baseball, from a historical nature. We’re celebrating Jackie, and his breaking barriers 75 years ago. Being able to take that and show it to the masses on a national level is more impactful, from where we’re sitting.
Listen, the calendar turned out that the game was on Friday night, so we had this opportunity. But it wasn’t like we did a deal for Jackie Robinson Day. We did a deal for “Friday Night Baseball,” and it happened to be Jackie Robinson Day, and we happened to have a great opportunity in front of us to take a game that has such historical significance and get it out to a much broader audience than if we just went local with the broadcast.
Apple TV+ had roughly 20 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada as of late 2021, according to a CNBC Report. Compared to ESPN, which has more than 75 million subscribers, MLB’s claim that it allowed a much broader audience to watch has a hard time holding up.
MLB could have allowed it to be broadcasted on local stations and all their streaming platforms if they really cared about allowing full access to the game.
While Apple TV+ is currently free to watch Friday Night Baseball, many fans just won’t want to go through the process of creating an account and downloading a new platform to just watch one or two games.
A subscription will also be required to continue watching in the future, making it a potential fifth service needed to watch games, along with MLB TV, a live TV service, Peacock and YouTube.
Dodgers on Apple TV+
A subscription to Apple TV+ costs $4.99 and includes access to the company’s library of TV shows and movies. Through June 24, Friday Night Baseball games will be available to watch for free in the Apple TV+ app.
The Dodgers will again be featured on Apple TV’s coverage on June 17 when they host the Cleveland Guardians.
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