Major League Baseball is poised to expand its streaming capabilities after it settled a labor dispute with the players in order to save the 2022 season.
According to a source familiar, the league and NBCUniversal are close together to finalizing a deal that would allow 18 games to be streamed on Peacock. An official announcement could be made as early as next week.
The Wall Street JournalToday’s report on the pact follows a New York Post report last month. The WSJ valued the transaction at $30 Million.
Reps from NBC Sports and MLB did not respond to Deadline’s request for comment.
The agreement, while not astronomical in price, is yet another sign that sports are moving away from linear television and towards streaming. Apple and MLB just announced that a package of Friday games would stream on Apple TV+. Amazon also streamed 21 New York Yankees home games last season through a deal with YES Network. Sinclair Broadcast Group is also a partner with YES. They are currently shifting their offering, including MLB, into a series of direct-to consumer streaming services.
In the case of Peacock’s exclusive Sunday games, they are due to begin as early as 11:30 a.m. ET which would allow them avoid the regular 1 p.m. game schedule with existing rights agreements.
ESPN has been steadily adding live games on ESPN+ and cross-promoting them through Hulu, also owned by Disney. HBO Max plans to stream live National Hockey League Games. Amazon Prime Video will start streaming exclusive NFL Thursday Night Football streams starting in September.
Paramount, Fox, NBCU Disney, Paramount and Disney are all stakeholders who see the linear sports component as a significant driver of cash flow and a platform to advertise. Those companies’ recent $100 billion-plus rights deals with the NFL introduce some streaming elements but also secure traditional TV carriage through 2032.