Apple’s Friday Night Baseball is back for the 2023 MLB season, and you can’t watch on cable. Here is what you need to know to live stream the weekly doubleheader on Apple TV+.
The world of streaming sports is exploding, and even tech giants not usually associated with live sports want in on the action. Amazon paid a reported 1 billion per season to feature an exclusive NFL game on Thursday nights, and last season Apple entered the fray, announcing two exclusive MLB games on Friday nights during the regular season. These “streaming exclusive” games, which cause blackouts on local regional sports networks, and quite a bit of confusion for fans, will return for 2023.
Time needed: 15 minutes.
How to watch your favorite MLB team on Friday Night Baseball
- You can’t watch on your local RSN
First, many fans arrive at this page wondering where in the heck their usual Friday evening broadcast went. Unfortunately, your local RSN is blacked out when your team appears on Friday Night Baseball. Apple’s deal with MLB gives exclusive rights, which means the games can only be accessed via the Apple TV app.
- Confirm you have the Apple TV app or download it
If you have the Apple TV app installed on your smart TV or phone, it will be easy to watch Friday Night Baseball. Simply open the Apple TV app and select the Apple TV+ icon from the navigation menu. Make sure you are signed in using your Apple ID. Follow prompts to sign up for Apple TV+ (requires a paid subscription).
If you have yet to download the Apple TV app, here is a link to add on iOS and Android devices. On a smart TV, use the normal process for adding a new app.
- Watch the game on Apple TV+
Once you have the Apple TV app installed and are signed up for Apple TV+, you have access to every Friday Night Baseball game.
Friday Night Baseball is a doubleheader
Again for 2023, Friday Night Baseball, will run as a doubleheader every Friday night, and like ESPN+ does with UFC events, Apple plans to offer a commentary show both pre and post game, as well as weekly baseball related content. One can only speculate what this means for the future of watching sports online, but in our view, it’s a clear signal that the only live, “must watch,” programming that matters anymore are sporting events. Think of it – with extensive DVR storage offered by most major live TV streaming providers, shows or movies can be watched at anytime, whereas sports need to be watched live in order to take part in the conversation. Sports fans want to discuss the game with their communities, follow along on Twitter, and roast the opposing team. All of this requires tuning in live, and with audiences only growing, the major tech players understand the value in having the exclusive rights to a game each week. I expect this trend to continue.
Many sports news sites have broken the news about Friday Night Baseball, but what our audience wants to know is – how can we watch?
Download the Apple TV app
However, for the sake of time, and expense, the fastest and easiest way to watch Apple’s Friday night doubleheader is by downloading the Apple TV app, either to your iPhone, or smart TV. On many iPhone models, the app will already be installed as part of factory settings.
Once the app is installed, Apple TV+ is the paid streaming service. Simply login to the platform using your Apple ID and signup for a membership.
Once you are signed up for Apple TV+, Friday Night Baseball, as well as all of the MLB content Apple has planned, will be available to watch on any supported device, and the app is supported by almost all streaming devices, including:
- Most Amazon FireTV and Fire TV Stick models
- Android TV (version 8 and higher)
- Google TV
- Most LG Smart TVs (after 2016)
- Panasonic smart TVs
- Samsung Smart TVs (after 2016)
- Sony Smart TVs
Friday Night Baseball will create new blackouts
Exclusive TV deals are extremely lucrative for professional sports leagues, but the media groups that buy rights to broadcast games want exclusivity. With exclusivity come blackouts. Friday Night Baseball will cause blackouts for the regional sports networks (RSN) that usually broadcast the local team’s games.
For example, if the White Sox appear on a Friday Night Baseball game, the local Chicago RSN, NBC Sports Chicago, will not be able to carry the game. This means Chicago fans will lose a game that they otherwise would have had access to on their local network. If they want access to that White Sox game, they will be required to sign up for a free trial with Apple TV+. This adds another layer of complexity, and expense, to the streaming landscape for sports fans.
Because Apple TV+ isn’t a sports first platform, and doesn’t carry live sports other than Friday Night Baseball, I am not sure this is a win for fans.
Friday Night Baseball FAQ
Because the game is offered on Apple TV+, many fans will want to know whether they need to purchase an Apple TV box in order to watch Friday Night Baseball. Luckily, the answer is no, an Apple TV box is not required to watch Friday Night Baseball, but you will need to login to the Apple TV app, either via the box or from the app. While the Apple TV box offers a much larger set of features than does the Apple TV app, and they are distinct Apple products, you can stream Friday Night Baseball from either one. The advantage of an Apple TV box is the ability to AirPlay content from a secondary streaming device, like a MacBook, to the Apple TV. This is the workaround I use to stream sports to an older Panasonic TV in a house we rent.