Posts with «baseball» label

YouTube TV drops MLB Network after failing to renew deal

YouTube TV has dropped the MLB Network from its service after failing to renew its agreement, according to a statement from YouTube given to The Streamable. "You will also lose access to any previous Library recordings from this channel," the streamer wrote. "Members will be able to continue watching select national MLB games via coverage on FOX, ESPN, and TBS through our Base Plan."

The dispute appears to be over compensation, according to a statement from MLB Network. "YouTube TV has been unwilling to negotiate a fair carriage agreement... consistent with what close to 300 other US providers have agreed to for distribution." MLB Network was part of YouTube's $65 Base Plan and one of the few that carried 4K content as part of YouTube TV's 4K Plus add-on. 

The news isn't too tragic yet, as baseball season is still a couple of months away. YouTube TV has previously lost access to other channels including Disney's ESPN and ABC, but in the case of the latter, they were restored just a day later. That lends some hope that the streaming company can reach an agreement with MLB Network ahead of any disruption to games next season. 

In the meantime, "MLB Network remains widely available throughout the US, including on Altice USA (Optimum), AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications (Spectrum), Comcast, Cox Communications, DIRECTV, DIRECTV Stream, DISH, fuboTV, Sling TV, Verizon Fios and many others," MLB Network wrote. 

How to stream tonight's historic Yankees-Red Sox game on Apple TV+ for free

Don't panic that you might miss out on tonight's potentially legendary match-up between the Yankees and Red Sox just because it's on Apple TV+ — there's a good chance you can tune in for free. Apple is streaming the game at no charge as part of its weekly Friday Night Baseball feature, with coverage starting at 6:25PM Eastern and the action starting in earnest at 7PM. It'll require a little bit of work and a compatible device, but you too can see if Aaron Judge will break Roger Maris' American League home run record. Here's how to watch.

You'll need to either sign into or create a free Apple ID account at the Apple TV+ website or a supporting app. You may be prompted to add a credit card, but Apple won't charge you for this or any Friday Night Baseball game. The service is available on the web for Android- and computer-based viewers. iPhone, iPad and Mac users can also try the native app.

You also have many choices for watching in the living room. On top of Apple TV boxes, you can also tune into the Yankees-Red Sox game using the app for recent smart TVs from Samsung, LG, Sony, HiSense, Panasonic and Vizio. PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S owners can also watch, as can people with Fire TV, Google TV and Roku media players. Receivers for Comcast's Xfinity and T-Mobile's Magenta TV similarly offer Apple TV+ apps.

Millions of New Yorkers paid their cable bills expecting to see live sports programming. Denying them the chance to watch Aaron Judge step up to the plate to make history tonight is wrong and unfair.
I'm calling on @MLB and @Apple to open up tonight's game to the @YESNetwork.

— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) September 23, 2022

The free viewing might just head off some controversy. New York State Attorney General Letitia James has been worried enough about the TV+ exclusive to issue a statement asking Apple and the MLB to make the game available on the Yankees-oriented YES Network, calling the deal "wrong and unfair." However, James incorrectly claimed people need to "pay extra" to watch — if you're reading her press release or tweet (i.e. you have internet access), you can stream the potentially history-making showdown at no charge. The exclusive is only really a problem if all your devices are too old to use either the app or the web client.

Instagram is expanding NFT features to more than 100 countries

The non-fungible token (NFT) market has fallen off a cliff, but that's not stopping Instagram from doubling down on digital collectibles. After a test launch in May, the app is expanding its NFT features to more than 100 countries across Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and the Americas.

Instagram users can include NFTs in their feed and messages, as well as in augmented reality stickers in Stories. NFT creators and collectors are automatically tagged for attribution. You can't buy or sell NFTs on Instagram just yet, but Meta has strongly hinted it's working on a marketplace.

As of today, Instagram now supports third-party wallets from Coinbase and Dapper, in addition to Rainbow, MetaMask and Trust Wallet. On top of the Ethereum and Polygon blockchains, it will also support Flow.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the expansion in (where else?) an Instagram post. He included photos of a Little League baseball card he had made of himself as a kid. A young Zuckerberg gifted it to his favorite camp counselor, Allie Tarantino, who now plans to sell both the signed card and an associated NFT. "On the back of his card, he put a .920 batting average — which is like impossible in baseball," Tarantino told the Associated Press. "So even as a little kid, he was aiming big.”

Major League Baseball wants to deploy strike zone robo-umpires in 2024

Major League Baseball will "likely" introduce an Automated Strike Zone System starting in 2024, commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN. The so-called robot umpires may call all balls and strikes then relay the information to a plate umpire, or be part of a replay review system that allows managers to challenge calls. "We have an automated strike zone system that works," Manfred said. 

The comments come in the wake of fan outrage over umpire's missed calls in recent games, including a brutal low strike error during a Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins tilt. "Enough is enough. Give me robo umps already," tweeted Grand Rapids ABC sports director Jamal Spencer. 

Enough is enough. Give me robo umps already

— Jamal Spencer (@JamalSpencerTV) May 31, 2022

MLB has been experimenting with robo umps in minor league Atlantic Triple-A league since 2019. It uses a doppler radar system developed by TrackMan, best known for its golf speed measurement devices. The system works thusly, according to CBS: "Pitch gets thrown, TrackMan tracks and identifies the pitch's location, phone tells umpire whether it's a ball or strike, umpire physically makes the call behind the plate." 

In fairness to umpires, calling balls and strikes with 100 MPH fastballs and hard-breaking curveballs caught outside the zone is no easy feat. But that's exactly why fans, pundits and the league itself thinks that machines should take the job, leaving the plate umpire to judge tags and other more subjective plays. Mechanical systems also made Atlantic league games mercifully shorter by a full nine minutes, according to MLB data. 

Under baseball's new collective bargaining agreement, the league has the right to change rules unilaterally, provided it gives the union a season's notice. Manfred already said that such a system wouldn't be brought in next year, as the new competition committee won't have its first meeting until 2023. Once it does meet, though, the committee is very likely to approve the changes since it's dominated by ownership, according to ESPN

The makers of 'What the Golf' are back with VR game 'What the Bat'

Triband, the studio behind early Apple Arcade standout What the Golf, is back with a new game on a completely different platform. What the Bat is a virtual reality title that's coming to Meta Quest 2 and SteamVR headsets later this year

It looks like another ridiculous physics-based game where part of the fun is in figuring out what exactly is going on in each of the more than 100 levels. This time around, you'll have baseball bats for hands and you'll use them for cooking, petting a dog, painting, playing pinball, pickling, parking and brushing your teeth. Although What the Bat isn't really a baseball game, you will still get to do some batting too.

Major League Baseball will stream 15 games on YouTube this season

Like an ambitious butcher trying to cleave a dollar of meat out of a ten cent steak, Major League Baseball announced on Thursday that it is carving out a bit more of its television broadcast rights, renewing its four season-old deal for the "MLB Game of the Week Live on YouTube" with the Alphabet property. But unlike other recently struck deals, these streaming exclusives will be free to watch and without local blackout restrictions.

Beginning with the Rockies-Nats game on May 5th (first pitch 3:10 ET), YouTube will once again be home to more than a dozen MLB games throughout the 2022 season. Broadcasters Scott Braun and Yonder Alonso return to call the play-by-play. The full lineup is as follows:

  • Washington Nationals at Colorado Rockies — Thursday, May 5 @ 3:10 ET

  • Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds — Wednesday, May 11 @ 12:35 ET

  • Arizona Diamondbacks at Chicago Cubs — Friday, May 20 @ 2:20 ET

  • Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins — Wednesday, May 25 @ 1:10 ET

  • Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Guardians — Wednesday, June 1 @ 1:10 ET

  • Toronto Blue Jays at Kansas City Royals — Wednesday, June 8 @ 2:10 ET

  • Minnesota Twins at Seattle Mariners — Wednesday, June 15 @ 4:10 ET

YouTubeTV subscribers will be able to find these games on the service's dedicated Game of the Week channel while everybody else will see them on the MLB YouTube page. Fans will be able to interact with the broadcasts either via the live chat, "featuring game commentary from MLB superfan YouTube creators," as well as in-game polls and, for subscribers, access to real-time game stats.  

The 2022 MLB season is riddled with exclusive broadcast deals. Beyond the standard local blackout rules, 18 Sunday games will be only available with a $10/month Peacock subscription, AppleTV+ ($6/month) gets the Friday Doubleheaders, and ESPN has dibs on Sunday Night Baseball. There's also MLB.TV which has rights to everything but is far more expensive than its alternatives, at least until the All-Star break.   

Houston Astros' stadium will be the first in MLB to use Amazon's 'Just Walk Out' tech

Amazon has brought its checkout-free "Just Walk Out" technology to airports, grocery stores and other shops, but now it's coming to a particularly useful place for sports fans: the ballpark. The Houston Astros have teamed up with Amazon to install Just Walk Out systems at two concession stores in Minute Maid Park. Visit 19th Hole or Market and you can buy snacks or souvenirs between innings by inserting your credit card at the entry gate, grabbing things off the shelf, and leaving when you're done.

There will be staff to greet you and offer help as necessary, and you'll still have to show ID if you're buying alcohol. However, you otherwise won't have to talk to a cashier or use a self-checkout system. As you might guess, that could be extremely helpful given the crowds and lineups that frequently slow you down in stadiums.

The Astros' stadium is the first in Major League Baseball to adopt Just Walk Out, and they're using the same slightly modified system Amazon is offering to other retailers. The tech uses computer vision and other forms of AI to track shoppers as they enter and take (or put back) items. Amazon's own stores just rely on the company's Go mobile app instead of credit cards.

Amazon didn't mention whether or not other MLB teams would embrace the zero-checkout offering, but it won't be surprising if they (and other sports leagues) do. Stadium operators depend heavily on both merch sales and a swift traffic flow to turn a profit — the cost of Just Walk Out could easily be worthwhile if increases the chances you'll buy an expensive hot dog or replica jersey.

Prime Video will air 21 exclusive Yankees games in four states

Amazon’s Prime Video will stream New York Yankees games for in-market customers during the 2022 Major League Baseball (MLB) season. The first game, scheduled on April 22nd, is between the Yankees and the Cleveland Guardians. The streaming platform will air a total of 21 games in total, with 19 of them scheduled on Friday nights. The games will only be available to Prime members in New York state, Connecticut, north and central New Jersey and northeast Pennsylvania.

Amazon began simulcasting Yankees games on Prime Video shortly after it bought the Yankees Entertainment Sports Network (YES). While this is the third consecutive year Amazon has done this, it’s the first year that this selection of Yankees games will only air on Prime Video. Meaning that fans won’t be able to find the game on a broadcast station, the YES network or any other service.

MLB has gotten pretty cozy with streaming platforms as of late. Peacock will air a total of 18 exclusive Sunday morning baseball games in May, beginning with a matchup between the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox on May 8th. Apple TV+ will also begin streaming live Friday night MLB games this year, beginning with a contest between the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals on April 8th. The game will be exclusive to Apple TV+, but will also be available to non-subscribers for free (they’ll just need to download the Apple TV+ app).

Not everyone is a fan of the new union between streaming platforms and baseball. Baseball fans who have already paid for MLB TV or satellite TV likely won’t be happy about paying for a new streaming service just so they won't miss a game. While games on Apple TV+ will have no geographic restrictions and be free to anyone with internet access, it’s obviously a ploy on Apple’s part to expand its subscriber base. And with games scattered across a number of different services — baseball season this year is likely to get confusing. 

MLB's latest streaming deal brings Sunday games to Peacock

Major League Baseball and NBCUniversal's Peacock have reached a deal that will see 18 games throughout the 2022-23 season broadcast on the streaming service, per the latter's tweet Thursday.

BATTER UP! You can officially catch @MLB Sundays on Peacock ⚾️

— Peacock (@peacockTV) April 6, 2022

The listed Sunday games will start between 11:30 am and noon ET, earlier than they would have in the past (sorry West Coast), so as to minimize interference with the Sunday afternoon games that start at 1 pm ET. The MLB already has an existing partnership with ESPN for the broadcast rights to Sunday Night Baseball. The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game will reportedly be a Peacock exclusive this season was well.

Though the details of the arrangement have not yet formally been announced, Forbes reported in March that this will likely be a 2-year deal worth $30 million annually, available only on Peacock's premium $10/month tier and exclusive, in that only local market viewers will be able to watch without ponying up for a subscription — at least for that month the game you want to watch is airing. Additionally, MLB has struck a deal with Apple TV+ to broadcast its Friday Night Doubleheaders, those games start at 7pm ET, just like ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball matchups. 

All of this broadcast hodgepodge is in addition to the MLB's existing MLB.TV streaming service as well as a rumored "national service" that would purportedly eliminate local blackouts for streamers and attract fans from among cord-cutters. In all, the MLB's national media deals will total $1.96 billion this season, a 26 percent increase from last year, per Forbes. So if you want to watch out-of-market baseball this year, you'd better have your password list and debit card ready.

MLB is turning to an electronic pitch-calling system to fight cheating

For well over a century, baseball catchers have signaled pitches with their fingers, but that could soon become a thing of the past in the big leagues. Major League Baseball has approved the use of a system that will allow catchers to send directions to their pitchers electronically.

The PitchCom system centers around a sleeve catchers wear on their forearm. They can press buttons to identify the pitch type and location. The pitcher hears the call through a bone conduction listening device. The channels are encrypted and teams can program codewords to replace terms like "fastball" or "curveball."

According to the Associated Press, MLB is providing every team with three transmitters, 10 receivers and a charging case for the system, which works in Spanish and English. Teams can use one transmitter and up to five receivers at any time. Along with catchers and pitchers, three other fielders can use a receiver, which is tucked inside the cap. The devices can only be used on the field during games — not in clubhouses, bullpens or dugouts.

PitchCom is optional and teams can still use traditional hand signals if they wish. Around half of MLB teams are said to have expressed interest in using PitchCom. Some players tested the system during spring training and it was broadly well-received, as ESPN reports.

"I think it can be beneficial when it comes to August, September and October and you're pushing towards the playoffs, with all the scouts in the stands and eyes on you trying to decipher what you're throwing," Chicago White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel said. "It'll be nice not to have to go through several sets of signs."

The tech could help teams ward off the threat of sign stealing by their opponents, an issue that has hung over the sport for the last several years. The Houston Astros were infamously caught stealing signs using a camera and monitors during their run to the 2017 World Series title. Teams have even been accused of using fitness trackers to signal the opposing catcher's pitch calls. Widespread adoption of PitchCom could eliminate such attempts at cheating and help speed up games.

Meanwhile, the creators of PitchCom are working on a version of the system that will provide visual indicators of pitch calls. That's expected to be available next year.

PitchCom Sports