“I read social media like everyone else, so I understand what the fans are saying, but it’s happening everywhere,” said Rick Cordella, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Peacock. “It’s happening with entertainment. It’s happening with movies. The pay-TV bundle used to have everything, and now … there’s a litany of other content that’s spread out across four or five of the biggest streamers. And sports really is no different.
“We hope at some point that Peacock is as ubiquitous as the pay-TV ecosystem and that this is a moment in time.”
While Friday’s Braves-Padres game was available on Apple TV+ without a paid subscription, Sunday’s game will require a Peacock Premium subscription (typically $4.99 per month). It can be watched on devices, including smart TVs, where Peacock is available. (For more on how to access the game, visit peacocktv.com.)
Peacock said about 20 million premium accounts currently have access to its MLB package, including 13 million paid subscribers and 7 million “highly engaged bundled subscribers from Xfinity and other top distributors, who use Peacock every single month and currently receive Peacock Premium at no extra cost.”
For Sunday’s game, the play-by-play announcer will be Jason Benetti, the primary TV play-by-play voice of the Chicago White Sox, with analysis by former Braves star Andruw Jones and former Padre Mark Sweeney. Jones will make his debut as a game analyst. Sweeney is a Padres broadcaster on Bally Sports San Diego.
Under their new deals with MLB this season, Apple has two games every Friday night and Peacock one game every Sunday for 18 consecutive weeks. The games on Apple and Peacock won’t be shown on any other network, locally or nationally.
The new platforms will require an adjustment for Braves fans who are accustomed to watching games on Bally Sports South/Southeast and, occasionally, ESPN, Fox or Turner.
Another adjustment is Sunday’s starting time, two hours earlier than normal for Sunday home games.
Peacock’s deal calls for its Sunday telecasts to start at 11:30 a.m. through June 12 and at noon after June 12. The early time slots appealed to Peacock because of the absence of competition from other MLB games around the country for the first 90 minutes to two hours of the telecasts, but may prove less popular with fans attending in person.
“Look, there’s not a lot of exclusive hours around baseball,” Cordella said. “There’s a lot of baseball played each and every night, and trying to find where can you slot in an area where there’s nothing else going on for the baseball fan … was a key component of the deal.
“I credit baseball. We kind of came with this sort of crazy idea, and they kind of said yes. But it was always a big part of what we were trying to do.”
Baseball’s position on availability of games via streaming seems inconsistent. Despite the league-wide deals with Apple and Peacock, the Bally Sports regional networks that hold 14 teams’ local TV rights are not available on popular streaming platforms such as YouTube TV and Hulu.
While Apple is new to baseball broadcasting, NBC Sports, which is producing the Peacock games, is renewing its deep roots in the sport. Older fans may remember NBC televising 39 World Series and, for decades, a baseball “Game of the Week,” but the sport has been off the network since 2000.
“For a certain segment of the population, the only baseball game of the week was on NBC,” NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood said. “We’re proud of that heritage. We’re going to lean into it. But we’re taking our own twist to it.”
One example is Peacock having two local analysts join Benetti on each week’s telecast, one associated with each of the teams in the game (Jones and Sweeney on Sunday’s game).
“We do think it’s an advantage to the fans being able to have some familiarity, yet get some fresh data and intel that they wouldn’t normally have,” Flood said.
Beyond this weekend, one other Braves game is scheduled this season on Apple – the June 3 game at Colorado – and no others on Peacock.