As promised last month, YouTube TV is today launching the MLB Network on its streaming TV service, and with it, comes the announcement of an expanded promotional partnership with Major League Baseball. YouTube TV will again serve as the “presenting” sponsor of the World Series for two more years, and will debut a season-long sponsorship as well.
In addition, YouTube TV subscribers will be able to add the premium service MLB.tv to their channel selection on the TV service for a fee.
YouTube TV had partnered with MLB on the 2017 World Series for a sponsorship that included national TV spots – including ads that featured live footage – plus on-air callouts on FOX, the incorporation of MLB players in promotional efforts, and more. It also famously placed the YouTube logo behind home plate – a distraction that many thought was a step too far, as it made the game feel like a YouTube video waiting to be clicked and played.
Image credit: NBC Sports
YouTube TV was the first brand to “present” the World Series in 2017, and that will continue in 2018 and 2019. That means, again, YouTube TV will be everywhere around the World Series – TV ads, callouts, in-stadium placements, and branding across MLB’s digital properties and social media.
It will also for the first time partner with MLB on a season-long sponsorship called “First Pitch.” As the name suggests, this will feature YouTube TV branding during the first pitch of the games on the MLB Network and MLB.tv, which will be further amplified on MLB.com and MLB social channels.
For the MLB, a partnership with YouTube TV represents a means of attracting younger users to the sport. In the wake of the cord cutting era, where pay TV subscribers are dropping subscriptions and many young customers never sign up to begin with, major sports organizations have been experimenting with new ways to increase viewership, ranging from streaming deals on Facebook and Twitter, to tie-ins with popular apps like Snapchat, and more.
Baseball fans watching the games will see the YouTube TV logo everywhere, which could interest them in YouTube TV’s service, where they can also upgrade to MLB.tv’s paid product.
“YouTube brought tremendous creativity, marketing energy and innovation to the most exciting part of our year, the Postseason and World Series,” said Noah Garden, MLB Executive Vice President, Commerce, in a statement. “Their engagement with our young fans, rising stars and Clubs showed that YouTube TV is a natural partner for our sport and we’re proud to build on this groundbreaking relationship. And with the addition of MLB Network and the upcoming launch of MLB.tv on the platform, our fans’ options to consume baseball continue to grow.”
For YouTube TV, meanwhile, a partnership with the MLB brings increased exposure at a high-profile sporting event, as well as a way to get its brand spread across MLB’s digital properties throughout the season.
It’s also evidence that YouTube TV’s 2017 sponsorship was successful enough to not only be repeated, but expanded upon.
YouTube notes also that MLB’s engagement and content strategy on YouTube generated over 1 billion views, which speaks to the potential for YouTube TV sign-ups from this fan base.
The deal comes at a time when YouTube TV is in a race with other TV services – including Hulu Live TV, Sling TV, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue – for cord cutters’ dollars. The service recently became available across 85 percent of U.S. households, and bumped its pricing $40 per month.