Friday Night Baseball
AppleFridayNightBaseball.jpg
GenreMLB game broadcasts
StarringEast:
Melanie Newman
Wayne Randazzo
Chris Young
Hannah Keyser (first half)
Russell Dorsey (second half)
Brooke Fletcher
West:
Stephen Nelson
Hunter Pence
Katie Nolan
Heidi Watney
Studio:
Lauren Gardner
Carlos Peña
Cliff Floyd
Yonder Alonso
Brian Gorman
No. of seasons1
Production
Running time3.5 hours per game (approximate)
Production companyMLB Network
Release
Original networkApple TV+
Picture format1080p[1]
Original releaseApril 8, 2022 (2022-04-08) –
present

Friday Night Baseball is a live broadcast of Major League Baseball (MLB) games on Apple TV+ that debuted during the league's 2022 season. The weekly broadcast is produced by MLB Network,[2] featuring a doubleheader with pregame and postgame analysis.[3] The broadcast is available in the North American market consisting of the United States, Canada and Mexico as well as select overseas markets including Australia, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom, with plans to expand availability of the broadcast to more regions in the future.[3]

History

Apple Inc. signed a seven-year deal with MLB for the broadcast for US$85 million per year, a total value of $595 million. This includes an annual $55 million rights fee as well as $30 million for Apple advertising. Apple has the right to exit the agreement after the first or second year.[4] The deal was the first sports broadcasting contract ever acquired by Apple.[5] Plans for the broadcast were formally announced on March 8, 2022, at Apple's Peek Performance event and later in an online press release.[6][7]

The first broadcast date was initially made uncertain as the deal was signed amidst the 2021–22 MLB lockout and the threat of cancelled games.[8] After the lockout was resolved, MLB announced that the first games would air on April 8, 2022, with a doubleheader of New York MetsWashington Nationals and Houston AstrosLos Angeles Angels as the inaugural matchups.[9] Apple also announced that Friday Night Baseball will be free-of-charge for its 12 weeks of broadcasts, this was later extended for the rest of the inaugural season.[10]

On April 7, 2022, Apple announced that Melanie Newman, Chris Young, Hannah Keyser, and Brooke Fletcher would be the inaugural broadcast crew for east coast games, while Stephen Nelson, Hunter Pence, Katie Nolan, and Heidi Watney would be the broadcast crew for west coast games. Lauren Gardner was announced as the pregame and postgame studio host, along with a rotation of MLB Network studio analysts including Carlos Peña, Cliff Floyd, and Yonder Alonso. Former MLB umpire Brian Gorman was also hired as a rules analyst.[11]

Commentators

Crew 1

Crew 2

Studio

2022 broadcasts

Apple selected the following games for its inaugural broadcast season:[12][13]

Date Away Team Home Team Time (ET) Score
April 8, 2022 New York Mets Washington Nationals 7:00 p.m. Mets 7, Nationals 3
Houston Astros Los Angeles Angels 9:30 p.m. Astros 13, Angels 6
April 15, 2022 Tampa Bay Rays Chicago White Sox 7:00 p.m. Rays 2, White Sox 3
Cincinnati Reds Los Angeles Dodgers 10:00 p.m. Reds 1, Dodgers 3
April 22, 2022 St. Louis Cardinals Cincinnati Reds 6:30 p.m. Cardinals 4, Reds 2
Texas Rangers Oakland Athletics 9:30 p.m. Rangers 8, Athletics 1
April 29, 2022 New York Yankees Kansas City Royals 8:00 p.m. Yankees 12, Royals 2
Washington Nationals San Francisco Giants 10:00 p.m. Nationals 14, Giants 4
May 6, 2022 Chicago White Sox Boston Red Sox 7:00 p.m. White Sox 4, Red Sox 2
Tampa Bay Rays Seattle Mariners 9:30 p.m. Rays 8, Mariners 7
May 13, 2022 San Diego Padres Atlanta Braves 7:00 p.m. Padres 11, Braves 6
Chicago Cubs Arizona Diamondbacks 9:30 p.m. Cubs 3, Diamondbacks 4
May 20, 2022 St. Louis Cardinals Pittsburgh Pirates 6:30 p.m. Cardinals 5, Pirates 3
Texas Rangers Houston Astros 8:00 p.m. Rangers 3, Astros 0
May 27, 2022 Baltimore Orioles Boston Red Sox 7:00 p.m. Orioles 12, Red Sox 8
Toronto Blue Jays Los Angeles Angels 9:30 p.m. Blue Jays 4, Angels 3
June 3, 2022 Detroit Tigers New York Yankees 7:00 p.m. Tigers 0, Yankees 13
Atlanta Braves Colorado Rockies 8:30 p.m. Braves 3, Rockies 1
June 10, 2022 Tampa Bay Rays Minnesota Twins 8:00 p.m. Rays 4, Twins 9
New York Mets Los Angeles Angels 9:30 p.m. Mets 7, Angels 3
June 17, 2022 Chicago White Sox Houston Astros 8:00 p.m. White Sox 3, Astros 13
Cleveland Guardians Los Angeles Dodgers 10:00 p.m. Guardians 2, Dodgers 1
June 24, 2022 Chicago Cubs St. Louis Cardinals 8:00 p.m. Cubs 3, Cardinals 0
Detroit Tigers Arizona Diamondbacks 9:30 p.m. Tigers 5, Diamondbacks 1
July 1, 2022 Texas Rangers New York Mets 7:00 p.m. Rangers 3, Mets 4
Los Angeles Angels Houston Astros 8:00 p.m. Angels 1, Astros 8
July 8, 2022 Pittsburgh Pirates Milwaukee Brewers 8:00 p.m. Pirates 3, Brewers 4
Toronto Blue Jays Seattle Mariners 10:00 p.m. Blue Jays 2, Mariners 5
July 15, 2022 Pittsburgh Pirates Colorado Rockies 8:30 p.m. Pirates 2, Rockies 13
Arizona Diamondbacks San Diego Padres 9:30 p.m. Diamondbacks 3, Padres 5
July 22, 2022 Chicago Cubs Philadelphia Phillies 7:00 p.m. Cubs 15, Phillies 2
Cleveland Guardians Chicago White Sox 8:00 p.m. Guardians 8, White Sox 2
July 29, 2022 Detroit Tigers Toronto Blue Jays 7:00 p.m. Tigers 4, Blue Jays 2
Chicago Cubs San Francisco Giants 10:00 p.m. Cubs 4, Giants 2
August 5, 2022 Washington Nationals Philadelphia Phillies 7:00 p.m. Nationals 2, Phillies 7
Cincinnati Reds Milwaukee Brewers 8:00 p.m. Reds 1, Brewers 5
August 12, 2022 San Diego Padres Washington Nationals 7:00 p.m. Padres 10, Nationals 5
Philadelphia Phillies New York Mets 7:00 p.m. Phillies 2, Mets 1
August 19, 2022 Toronto Blue Jays New York Yankees 7:00 p.m. Blue Jays 4, Yankees 0
Texas Rangers Minnesota Twins 8:00 p.m. Rangers 1, Twins 2
August 26, 2022 Tampa Bay Rays Boston Red Sox 7:00 p.m. Rays 8, Red Sox 9
Cleveland Guardians Seattle Mariners 10:00 p.m. Guardians 2, Mariners 3
September 2, 2022 Miami Marlins Atlanta Braves 7:00 p.m. Marlins 1, Braves 8
Philadelphia Phillies San Francisco Giants 10:00 p.m. Phillies 1, Giants 13
September 9, 2022 Cleveland Guardians Minnesota Twins 8:00 p.m. Guardians 7, Twins 6
Atlanta Braves Seattle Mariners 9:30 p.m. Braves 6, Mariners 4
September 16, 2022 Baltimore Orioles Toronto Blue Jays 7:00 p.m. Orioles 3, Blue Jays 6
Los Angeles Dodgers San Francisco Giants 10:00 p.m. Dodgers 5, Giants 0
September 23, 2022 Boston Red Sox New York Yankees 7:00 p.m. Red Sox 4, Yankees 5
St. Louis Cardinals Los Angeles Dodgers 10:00 p.m. Cardinals 11, Dodgers 0

Reception

The initial Friday Night Baseball broadcasts were met with mixed reviews that largely praised its visual production, but criticized its commentary crew's performance. Many fans objected to the games being unavailable on cable television networks and to the need for additional hardware to watch Friday Night Baseball on their televisions.[14]

Six Colors praised its "special" production which "push[ed] the envelope", noting that the production featured more cameras than a typical broadcast, and more commentators, which he compared to the higher production fare often reserved for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts, or postseason games, which are produced by other broadcasters such as Fox Sports. The Six Colors review praised the diversity of the commentary crew, while criticizing the volume of commercials (including product placement) and the lack of a rewind feature in the Apple TV+ app.[15] A writer for The Verge said that the debut broadcast "left some fans frustrated and disappointed", upset with streaming issues and poor commentary quality. Some fans found the commentary to be "distracting, and sometimes blatantly off-topic".[16]

WFAN hosts Gregg Giannotti and Boomer Esiason, during their radio show Boomer and Gio, were more negative about the initial broadcast. Giannotti said, "They don't think the game stands on its own. They were talking about a lot of things that have nothing to do with the game … they're putting people in there that don't have any experience". Esiason said that the broadcast was "unlistenable", but that he expects improvements in the future.[17]

Apple Insider noted that while many praised the debut broadcast's minimalist score bug, some viewers mocked it, and noted that the commentary team wandered off-topic and seemed to have a "lack of enthusiasm for on-field events".[18] TechRadar wrote that viewers found that commentators didn't appear to understand the importance of the plays during the game. The outlet also praised the production technology used, noting that it utilized a Sony α7R IV, DJI Ronin-S, Phantom Camera, and a 1080p wireless transmitter allowing the game to be viewed at 60 frames per second, and that its use of narrow focus for some of the camera angles "creates a recognizable cinematic effect … that instantly raises the drama."[19]

Before the September 23 Yankees/Red Sox broadcast, where Aaron Judge of the Yankees would be attempting to tie an American League record with 61 home runs, New York State attorney general Letitia James urged Major League Baseball to allow the game to simulcast on the YES Network. The network is widely available on cable providers in New York State, which would have allowed the game to be more widely televised. Major League Baseball denied this request, and the game aired exclusively on Apple TV+ as planned.[20]

References

  1. ^ "Review: Apple TV Friday Night Baseball Delivers Higher Quality Video | HD Report". hd-report.com. Retrieved 2022-05-28.
  2. ^ Lucia, Joe (April 6, 2022). "Your 2022 MLB regular season broadcasting primer". Awful Announcing.
  3. ^ a b "Apple, MLB announce 'Friday Night Baseball' package". ESPN. 8 March 2022. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  4. ^ Ozanian, Mike (9 March 2022). "MLB Deals With Apple And NBC Sports Are Worth A Combined $115 Million Annually". Forbes. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  5. ^ Axson, Scooby (8 March 2022). "Apple signs its first sports rights deal, teaming up with MLB for 'Friday Night Baseball'". USA Today. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  6. ^ "Apple and Major League Baseball to offer "Friday Night Baseball"". Apple Newsroom. Apple Inc. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  7. ^ Keck, Catie (8 March 2022). "Apple TV Plus announces Friday Night Baseball". The Verge. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  8. ^ Goldsmith, Jill (8 March 2022). "Apple In Rights Deal With MLB For 'Friday Night Baseball'". Deadline. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  9. ^ "Friday night games free on Apple TV+". MLB.com. Retrieved 2022-03-29.
  10. ^ Cross, Jason (29 March 2022). "Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV+ will be free for the first 12 weeks of the season". Macworld. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  11. ^ "Apple introduces broadcasters and production details for "Friday Night Baseball," beginning April 8 only on Apple TV+". apple.com. Retrieved 2022-04-07.
  12. ^ "Apple and Major League Baseball announce first 12 weeks of "Friday Night Baseball" doubleheader schedule beginning April 8". Apple Inc. Newsroom. 29 March 2022. Retrieved 8 April 2022.
  13. ^ "Apple and MLB announce September "Friday Night Baseball" schedule". Apple Newsroom. Retrieved 2022-09-07.
  14. ^ "Baseball on Apple TV Plus slaughtered by furious fans on opening night". 9 April 2022.
  15. ^ "First impressions of Apple's "Friday Night Baseball"". Six Colors. 2022-04-11. Retrieved 2022-05-28.
  16. ^ Roth, Emma (2022-04-09). "Apple TV Plus' Friday Night Baseball debut wasn't the homerun fans expected". The Verge. Retrieved 2022-05-28.
  17. ^ "Boomer Esiason found Apple TV+'s Friday Night Baseball "unlistenable"". Awful Announcing. 2022-04-11. Retrieved 2022-05-28.
  18. ^ "Fans slam Apple TV+ 'Friday Night Baseball' stream outages, commentary team". AppleInsider. Retrieved 2022-05-28.
  19. ^ Ulanoff, Lance (2022-04-15). "Apple TV Plus Friday Night Baseball curveball start could still lead to a home run". TechRadar. Retrieved 2022-05-28.
  20. ^ "New York's attorney general fighting to make Yankees game more available". wnyt.com. 2022-09-23. Retrieved 2022-09-23.