Apple has had substantial talks about carrying Major League Baseball games next season, The Post has learned.
If a deal is finalized, it would represent a significant milestone in sports broadcasting since Apple has long been looked upon as a potential stop for major sports TV rights. One of Apple’s rival companies, Amazon, has already carved out an important piece of real estate in this space, as it will become the exclusive home of NFL “Thursday Night Football” in the fall.
A potential MLB-Apple deal would not be anywhere close to the magnitude of the NFL and Amazon — which is for more than a billion dollars per year — but MLB and Apple would be the entree of the technology behemoth into the coverage of top live sports.
This genre has long been dominated by ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC and CBS. The digital companies are new players in this field.
The package MLB has been attempting to sell is weekday national games that ESPN recently relinquished. ESPN will no longer have regular Monday and Wednesday games. The ESPN games were not exclusive in local markets. It is unclear at this point if Apple would be allowed to wall off these select games from regional sports network coverage or not.
MLB and Apple declined comment.
Among the entities MLB has held discussion with is Barstool Sports, which The Post reported back in August. It has also spoken to Amazon, according to sources, but did not find a deal there. MLB has canvassed most of the major players, but Apple could be the one.
Apple would be expected to make the games available through its subscription service, Apple+, which is most famous for its series “Ted Lasso.” Major League Baseball has previously put games on Facebook and Twitter.
Apple and MLB have a long-term relationship, dating back to MLB app becoming one of the first on the App Store in 2008.
While the MLB games on Apple+ are very possible for next season, first the players and the owners have to come to an agreement on new Collective Bargaining agreement. The owners are currently locking out the players.
On a conference call officially announcing the new “Sunday Night Baseball” crew, David Cone said he expects to continue calling around 50 Yankee games for the YES Network. In a normal 162 game season, he was usually between 70-90 games. Michael Kay’s YES schedule is not expected to be impacted much, if at all, by his new ESPN Sunday “Kay-Rod” games. Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez will do eight “Manningcast”-type broadcasts on ESPN2 for SNB, as well as about five to seven other regular broadcasts, including possible postseason action.
Cone will be teamed with Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez on the new weekly Sunday night broadcasts.
As for reporter Buster Olney, ESPN Sr. vice president of production and remote events Mark Gross, said they were still trying to figure out how the new booth would use the dugout reporter. He did say Olney, as well as longtime MLB insider Tim Kurkijian would be part of ESPN’s overall MLB coverage. Olney, though, does not appear as if he will retain his dugout role, at least at this point.