NEW YORK – Major League Baseball became the first sports league to reach a broadcasting deal with video streaming powerhouse Netflix today, a move commissioner Rob Manfred hopes will help MLB better reach the younger demo it so desperately craves. The partnership begins on Opening Day, April 2nd, and enables hardcore baseball fans to binge-watch the entire 2017 season beginning on that date.
“I am excited to announce that Major League Baseball has teamed with Netflix to create the most modern broadcasting partnership in sports history,” said Manfred. “Our fans will now be able to watch the 2017 season in more ways, on more devices, and at more times. MLB is positioned perfectly to tap into the way fans consume media today.”
Yet the arrangement has one wrinkle that Netflix insisted on that could cause some trouble for baseball: having the entire season completed in time for Opening Day so users of the streaming service can binge-watch. Manfred says it will force some modifications for every team, but said the timeframe is not as advanced as it may seem.
“We haven’t figured out all of the details, but we’ll have teams begin playing regular season very early on in spring training,” he said. “And we don’t have to have the full season completed by April 2nd. Baseball games take about three hours, so no one could watch more than eight games in a single day. That means we have about 20 days after April 2nd to get the full regular season finished and available for streaming. Obviously, teams will have to pick up the pace of play to meet this deadline, so I think it’s a win-win.”
MLB also announced today that the 2017 All-Star Game will be stream exlusively on Hulu.
“This could be the thing that really makes us break through!” said Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins. “It’s the premier exhibition game in professional baseball.”