The nascent livestreaming partnership between MLB and YouTube got off to a solid start Thursday, with the league’s first exclusive broadcast on the platform drawing more than 200,000 concurrent viewers at its peak toward the end of the Philadelphia Phillies’ 7-6 nail-biter of a victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to Alphabet Inc.’s Google.
MLB analytics data provided to Morning Consult by Google showed that as of Friday morning, the game — the first of a 13-game package for the 2019 season — had garnered more than 2 million views on the league’s official channel.
A single YouTube view is tallied when a viewer watches a video, Google said, though the company, citing security concerns about potential spammers, wouldn’t specify the length of time a viewer must be engaged in order to be included in the count.
The livestreamed games on YouTube, which is owned by Google, are exclusively distributed for free throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Those parameters differ from MLB’s non-exclusive six-game slate running this season on Facebook Inc., which is only available for out-of-market fans and represents a 19-game reduction from the league’s 2018 package on the platform, which Morning Consult first reported in March.
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Though Facebook and YouTube metrics aren’t quite an apples-to-apples comparison, viewership between the two platforms does vary. Last season, afternoon MLB regular-season games were broadcast globally via the former platform minus select international markets, with the most-watched game as of mid-June being the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays on April 18 (7.1 million total views) compared to roughly 1 million total views for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Dodgers on May 3, the least-watched.
The league’s continued livestreaming experimentation comes as its front office has loosened the reins on its clubs, providing each with direct access to YouTube in a bid to better weave the platform into all 30 teams’ digital content strategies.
There’s also continuing exploration with sponsorship opportunities for the YouTube broadcasts. State Farm — which appeared as a sponsor for Thursday’s starting lineups, in-game interviews and the post-game show, among other tie-ins — is also confirmed for the series’ fourth matchup on Aug. 7, between the St. Louis Cardinals and Dodgers, Google said. The tech giant added that it’s currently negotiating with other brands for the remaining 12-game schedule, saying it’s “very likely” other corporate partners will be integrated.
Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story misstated where MLB regular-season games broadcast via YouTube were available in the United States.