On Tuesday night, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit a bottom of the 9th inning home run to tie Babe Ruth’s home-run record of 60 in a season.
All eyes continue to be on Judge as he chases the American League single season record. That one by another Yankee – Roger Maris who hit 61 homers in 1961.
All eyes on Judge? Not so fast.
The non-stop push for streaming services may finally have come back and hit Major League Baseball in the ball.
If Judge goes for #62 on Friday when the Yankees host their arch-nemesis Boston Red Sox, the ONLY way one can watch the game … will be on Apple TV+.
Read that again.
You have one of the biggest moments in baseball history – only available on fricken Apple TV+ of all places.
3 PROBLEMS WITH STREAMING SPORTS
- Limited at-home audience
- Bars don’t have all the streaming channels
- Not the regular / familiar broadcasters
IMAGINE NOT BEING ABLE TO WATCH AARON JUDGE HIT #62
Let’s begin with the obvious: Major League Baseball needs Aaron Judge.
He is a great role model and by all accounts is a solid guy. Never really involved in drama and rarely has any bad publicity.
Baseball needs someone like Judge to try and continue building the sport as the younger generations shift their attention to the NFL and other leagues.
And now the biggest moment for baseball in decades, at one of the most historic stadiums, in one of the most famous cities on planet Earth, may not be seen by the average fan.
What an absolute mess if it comes to that.
What’s frustrating is that even in this situation, the powers that be aren’t willing to adapt and make a change that would ACTUALLY MAKE SENSE and get as many eyes on the game as possible.
Apple of course doesn’t want to give up their leverage – especially after Amazon Prime announced they had a RECORD amount of signups for the launch of Thursday Night Football last week.
So much for “growing the game.”
This year baseball fans saw games on their local regional networks, ESPN, Amazon, AppleTV+, YouTube, FOX, MLB Network, Peacock and God knows what else. That is a ton.
I’m telling you – what you will eventually see is a highlight-focused audience. People going to social media for big plays and reactions, rather than deal with so many different services.
THE OVERSATURATION OF STREAMING SERVICES
I’m a millennial. I have a TON of streaming services and even I get confused. And I sure as hell can’t remember any of my passwords.
I get it, streaming is the future. Just as vinyl records went to cassette and then CD and then Spotify, technology advances and so must humanity. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
What about the older generations that aren’t as familiar with streaming as we are?
Or someone who saw Maris hit one of his 61 home runs that year and now that person’s going to be scrambling to figure out where the heck the game is.
The sport they loved has turned its back on them.
DO FANS PREFER CABLE OVER STREAMING?
Just last month the Yankees and the Mets squared off as both teams are actually good for the first time in forever. The city was BUZZING for it. Unfortunately, when the first pitch came social media started blowing up as fans were wondering where the game actually was.
Turns out, it was on Amazon Prime.
Now sure plenty of people have Prime, it’s 2022.
But what did many of those same Yankees fans do instead of changing their HDMI setting or dealing with resetting their password for the 500th time, they switched over to the Mets local network on SNY.
SNY had their BIGGEST ratings ever in its 17-year career.
The stigma of streaming still makes people hesitant to fully embrace that change. People don’t want to deal with streaming when you can easily just change a television channel. It may sound weird, but it’s true.
MOST BARS DO NOT HAVE APPLE TV+
A bigger issue? I love to go out and watch the games at bars. Especially on a weekend. And ESPECIALLY when history may be made!
You know what bars do NOT have Amazon Prime or Apple TV+ in New York City and your city as well? A LOT of them. Earlier this season I was walking to 4 or 5 different bars just trying to get the Amazon home broadcast so I could listen to the Yankees announcers. (Amazon will eventually be okay because Thursday Night Football is forcing places to get it if they expect to have any sort of business.)
But AppleTV+? Good luck. I would say that out of all the streaming services, Apple TV+ is probably the least one that baseball fans have.
YANKEES FANS WANT TO HEAR THEIR REGULAR BROADCASTERS CALL HISTORIC AARON JUDGE HOMERS
Fans want their regular broadcasters to be there for that moment.
That’s sports. That’s what it’s all about.
It’s the same feeling as walking down the street or into a place and someone has your favorite team’s hat on. You automatically feel like you have each other’s back.
I, like legions of Yankees fans, grew up listening to Michael Kay call Yankees games for 31 years. First on radio, then on the YES Network.
Due to the scheduling this week – FOX gets Thursday’s game, AppleTV+ gets Friday, and ESPN gets Sunday night’s broadcast. YES Network will have Saturday’s game. Meaning, unless Judge breaks the record tonight or Saturday, Michael Kay won’t be able to call the game, neither will the other YES broadcasters.
I don’t want to have some other broadcaster call such an amazing moment. I want our guys to do it. Someone that has been with the team thru the good times and the bad.
On his 98.7 ESPN New York radio show, Michael Kay said that he has had many great Yankee moments that he is grateful to have been able to call. But he repeatedly reiterated that although he’d love to have the Judge record-breaking call, Kay doesn’t “deserve,” to have to call it. Adding that it would be very cool to make the call, but he’s not going to feel bad for himself – he feels worst for the Yankee fan that may have difficulties watching Friday’s game due to the streaming change.
Of course that may not even be an issue if Judge breaks the record tonight or Saturday – both games broadcasted on the YES Network.
Friday’s AppleTV+ broadcasters will instead be the same that they’ve worked with all year – Stephen Nelson, Hunter Pence and Katie Nolan.
WHAT WOULD GEORGE STEINBRENNER DO?
So in conclusion.
We have Aaron Judge going for the biggest moment in baseball in decades and people are going to lose their minds when they realize they can’t find it at their homes.
You can’t go to the bars and watch history being made with your friends because the majority of bars aren’t setup for AppleTV+ still.
And the unfamiliarity of the broadcasters is going to hinder the moment.
I can’t help but think if George Steinbrenner was still around what he would have done in this moment. He would have challenged the heck out of Apple and pulled all sorts of strings to make this right for the fan. Because that’s what it’s all about.