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Roku Lands Exclusive Rights for ‘MLB Sunday Leadoff’ Games

Starting May 19, Rokue will stream Sunday MLB games for free on the Roku Channel. The company will launch a new MLB Zone to help baseball fans find live upcoming games, nightly recaps, highlights, a fully programmed MLB free, ad-supported streaming TV channel, and other content across the Roku platform. The first game will feature the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals at 1:05 p.m. ET. There will be some games whose first pitchers will be as early as 11:35 a.m. ET.

“As television programming, live sports and the leagues have fragmented across networks, apps, and multiple packages, Roku- home to all of them- plays an increasingly crucial role for viewers and advertisers,” said Charlie Collier, president of Roku Media. “With this deal, Roku delivers free, live, weekly Sunday baseball and 24/7 baseball curation, destinations, and channels across out platform. The lead-in to all of television is now the lead-off for Sunday baseball as well. It’s a terrific partnership.”

Roku Officially Lands MLB Sunday Leadoff Games

Roku is a free service with no subscription necessary. A release from the league and Roku said an estimated 120 million have access to the service. MLB.TV subscribers will be able to watch all 18 matchups with no blackouts anywhere in the world. The Athletic reported two weeks ago that both sides were in advanced talks of negotiations. NBC liked its two-year relationship but only wanted to pay up to $10 million per year instead of the previous $30 million per season. The amount Roku is paying is yet to be determined, but it’s a multi-year agreement.

More Exclusivity Than Apple TV’s+ Current Plan

Similar to Apple, Roku will be the only place fans can watch the game. On the other hand, Roku games will be the only games on for an hour-and-a-half or two hours. No other Sunday matchups are allowed to have a first pitch before 1:35 p.m. Within a year from now, MLB does have the possibility of ESPN opting out or threatening to reduce its $550 million yearly deal for Sunday Night Baseball, the Home Run Derby and first-round playoff games.

MLB has other agreements with FOX and TNT Sports. FOX shows the World Series, while TBS, a part of TNT Sports, has a league championship series. In the past, MLB has streamed games on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But, it hasn’t stopped MLB from facing multiple television headaches, including the recent Diamond Sports. The company is filing for bankruptcy after failing to come to an agreement with Comcast that’s left 12 teams’ games unavailable to those clubs’ viewers that have that service.

Main Photo: © Miguel Legoas / USA TODAY NETWORK


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