Phillies fans were forced to watch several games on Facebook last season. Next month, they’ll have to navigate over to YouTube.
The Phillies’ match-up with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, July 18, at 12:30 p.m. will be the first MLB game to air exclusively on YouTube, part of a 13-game partnership between the league and the Google-owned video platform.
As far as the broadcast booth goes, Phillies fans will hear a familiar voice, as NBC Sports Philadelphia analyst and former first baseman John Kruk will be calling the game. He’ll be joined by MLB Network’s Scott Braun and Orel Hershiser, the legendary Dodgers pitcher who now calls games for Sportsnet LA. MLB Network’s Alexa Datt will join the broadcast as an in-game social media reporter.
The game will air free of charge on MLB’s official YouTube channel on any device. It can also be found by searching “MLB” in the YouTube app, and will stream on a yet-to-be-launched MLB channel on YouTube TV (which does require a subscription). Unlike watching games on TV, there will be no commercials during MLB broadcasts on YouTube, giving Kruk more time to discuss his lunch.
Here are all the MLB games that will air exclusively on YouTube in July. The league has not yet announced its YouTube schedule for August and September.
• Los Angeles Dodgers at Philadelphia Phillies: Thursday, July 18 at 12:30 p.m.
• Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays: Tuesday, July 23 at 7 p.m.
• Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Angels: Monday July 29 at 10 p.m.
Last season, MLB aired three Phillies games on Facebook, which drew mixed reviews from viewers due to problems with the on-screen graphics (which were later fixed), and issues relating to the livestream. One Phillies game this season aired on Facebook to fans outside of the Philadelphia market — the team’s April 19 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
The move comes amid strong television ratings for the Phillies. The team averaged a 4.6 household rating (more than 129,000 households) through the first two months of the season for games airing on NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBC10, according to Nielsen numbers. That puts the team on pace to draw its highest television ratings since 2012, when the team averaged a 5.4 household rating.
Not surprisingly, the highest-rated local game of the year was Bryce Harper’s return to Washington to face off against the Nationals on April 2, which drew a 7.8 household rating (nearly 220,000 households) on NBC Sports Philadelphia+. The Phillies also gave a boost to ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, drawing 1.9 million viewers on March 31, according to Sports Business Daily’s Austin Karp.