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Streaming deals ramp up for sports as MLB Opening Day and Masters Tournament begin – TechCrunch


In light of all the recent complex streaming sports licensing deals, it’s becoming more apparent every day that streaming platforms are starting to make the money that comes from streaming live sports events on their services.

Just yesterday, Hockey East entered into a six-year media rights agreement with ESPN and ESPN+, which will feature games from one of the NCAA’s hockey conferences that will feature 21 Division I teams from the NCAA in the men’s and women’s leagues. The deal will begin this fall and end the 2027-28 season.

Today it was reported that beIN sports has announced a broadcast deal with World Rugby and they will cover the HSBC World Rugby Sevens series for the remainder of the 2022 series as well as the full 2023 series. Additionally, the deal includes the rights to the 2022 Rugby Sevens World Cup.

But now let’s get into the bigger players, shall we?

major league baseball

Today, Thursday, April 7, at 2:20 p.m. EST, opening day kicks off and cord-cutters can scramble to find a service where they can watch all the action. Live streaming services such as DIRECTV STREAM usually have most RSNs available.

Other options include FuboTV, YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, Sling TV, and ESPN+, which only show one game per day, and local games are hidden.

MLB.TV is another great option since out-of-market games are available to stream live or on-demand. However, if you want to watch your home team, there will be a delay as the game won’t be shown until 90 minutes after the game has finished. (You can see the full schedule here.)

  • AppleTV+: This year, Apple TV+ struck a deal with Major League Baseball, giving viewers exclusive “Friday Night Baseball” games, plus a ton of other extras like the new live show “MLB Big Inning” , replays, highlights, news, analysis , and more. Here’s his “Friday Night Baseball” doubleheader, which premieres on April 8. Today, Apple showcased its streamer lineup and stream production details.
  • Peacock: NBC’s streaming service is also getting on the MLB train, showing 18 MLB games on Sundays starting at 11:30 a.m. EST. for the first six weeks, then changing to a noon start time for the next 12 weeks. The first game will be simulcast on NBC, which is the first time since the early 90s that baseball has been played on the network.
  • Amazon Prime Video: Last week, the company announced that the YES Network would exclusively air 21 New York Yankees games and include 19 Friday Night games on the service. This is free for Prime members in New York, Connecticut, northern and central New Jersey, and northeastern Pennsylvania. The New York Yankees’ exclusive first game on Prime Video is scheduled for Friday, April 22, when the Yankees host the Cleveland Guardians.
  • Bally Sports app: Sinclair plans to launch a DTC product, adding to the saturated streaming app market. He recently took on another $600 million in debt to fund his plans. The app hasn’t launched yet, but Sinclair owns the rights to five teams such as the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami Marlins, and Detroit Tigers. There is also a rumor that the company is exploring a streaming app for the Chicago Cubs.

Additionally, MLB wants to explore a DTC package with the NBA and NHL, to keep the cable model alive in the streaming world.

Masters Tournament

For the 15and consecutive year, ESPN and ESPN+ provide live coverage of the first and second rounds of the tournament from 3-7:30 p.m. EST on Thursday and Friday, April 7 and 8. It will then air the weekend of April 9 on CBS (available to stream with a DIRECTV STREAM, FuboTV, YouTube TV, or Hulu Live TV subscription). For additional coverage of the 2022 Masters, viewers can stream on Paramount+, ESPN+, Masters.com and the CBS Sports app. See the full program.

In 2020, the PGA Tour announced a nine-year media deal beginning in 2022 and ending in 2030. These renewed linear broadcast deals with NBC and CBS also added ESPN+ as the exclusive digital home for PGA Tour Live. This year, ESPN+ began its digital rights deal with the PGA Tour at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

National Basketball Association

Later next week, the NBA’s Play in Tournament begins on April 12, with the Playoffs on April 16. The NBA is the next major backer to see its domestic rights appear after the 2024-25 season. Many believe that Apple or Amazon are the main contenders for securing these rights.

For now, basketball fans can stream with NBA League Pass, DIRECTV STREAM, Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV, and FuboTV.

National Football League

The 2022 NFL Draft will begin April 28-30.

  • Amazon Prime Video: Its 11-year deal allows the service to carry the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football.” The two have partnered for streaming since 2017. While it previously simulcast on Fox and NFL Network, it’s now exclusive to Amazon.
  • Apple: Competitor to Amazon, Apple is the second favorite to eventually land the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket, reported the Sports Business Journal. DirecTV’s rights expire after the 2022 season, so it will be a battle between the tech giants to see who will be the next home for NFL games on Sundays.

In addition to Amazon Prime Video, live TV streaming services such as DIRECTV STREAM, ESPN+, FuboTV, Hulu Live TV, NFL Game Pass, Sling TV, and YouTube TV will broadcast the NFL Draft.

Sports leagues targeted by streaming companies

Not only are there more ways to watch live sports than ever before, but also a greater variety of rights for streaming services to grab for themselves. Most sports fans prefer to watch live matches and events on streaming platforms anyway, as pay TV broadcasters have less flexible pricing and streaming has greater accessibility.

Professional sports leagues are desirable acquisition targets for streaming services, as ever-increasing fees for live programming govern ad revenue. Owning a league rather than relying on multi-year license renewals would not only reduce subscriber churn, but it would also make it a valuable rival and possibly outlive others who didn’t even consider live sports.

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