YouTube using World Series to push TV service to national audience
YouTube, the renowned Google-owned video-sharing website, has partnered with Major League Baseball in the first-ever presenting sponsorship deal for the season-ending World Series.
Under the agreement announced on Tuesday, the YouTube TV service, which launched in USA in April and offers access to popular television programming without a traditional cable subscription, will have a high-profile association with the so-called Fall Classic, which starts in late-October.
The package includes various national TV advertising sports and on-air mentions in the coverage of national network Fox, branding across the MLB’s digital properties and social media accounts and in-stadium promotion.
MLB players are expected to feature in YouTube TV promotions and the platform will also work with the league to offer original World Series-themed content with behind-the-scenes access to the best-of-seven-games series involving players and personalities, plus competitions in which fans can win prizes including VIP tickets.
YouTube has tie-ups with sports teams, federations and leagues around the world and MLB already works closely with the website to engage with fans via a channel that has over 900,000 subscribers, while its videos have attracted over 1 billion views this year.
YouTube sees the World Series, which attracts a large US audience, as a prominent platform to push its TV service, which is now available in 49 markets, representing two-thirds of the country, and offers nearly 50 channels, including live local feeds from national networks ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC and sports networks such as ESPN, NBC Sports in 13 markets, Fox Sports in 22 markets and NESN in Boston.
Fox and ESPN share the US national TV rights to MLB in deals worth $12.4 billion over eight years, and there are also multiple regional deals.
YouTube TV costs $35 per month and has launched in an increasingly competitive market of ‘skinny bundles’ intended to appeal to ‘cord cutters’, often young viewers that have been turned off by expensive cable packages.
Kelly Merryman, managing director, content partnerships Americas at YouTube, said: “We built a cable-free service that makes it easier than ever for fans to get access to their favourite live TV programming - including amazing live sporting events like the World Series on FOX.”
“When we were thinking about partnerships to showcase the power of YouTube TV, Major League Baseball and the World Series was the perfect fit. It’s a great next step in our long-term relationship with the league.”
Noah Garden, MLB executive vice-president, business, added: “We are proud to team with You Tube on its first major partnership to help raise national awareness for YouTube TV. YouTube TV is an exciting new offering for fans providing them with increased flexibility to enjoy FOX’s broadcast of the Fall Classic on any device.”
Last year, Fox averaged 22.9 million viewers for the seven-game World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians and the audience of 40 million for the deciding contest was the highest for an MLB game in 25 years.
The 2017 postseason got under way on Tuesday with the New York Yankees beating the Minnesota Twins 8-4 in the American League Wild Card Game.