UPDATE: YouTube Will Not Broadcast Thursday’s MLB Game of the Week in 4K; Plans to Add Feature ‘Soon’
UPDATE: Despite initially indicating that Thursday, May 5’s Major League Baseball game between the Washington Nationals and Colorado Rockies would be broadcast in 4K on YouTube, the streaming site told The Streamable that it was slowing down the rollout of the feature after testing showed that it wasn’t up to company standards.
The game will still be broadcast in its high definition format.
“We’ve been testing 4K in the hopes of making it available by today’s Game of the Week, Nationals vs. Rockies, but from our tests, we decided the experience was not ready for our users,” a YouTube spokesperson told The Streamable. “We’ll continue our tests and plan to make the Game of the Week matches available in 4K for YouTube TV users with the 4K Plus add-on soon.”
It looks like YouTube is bringing 4K streaming to its MLB broadcasts this season. The video-streaming platform will be broadcasting 15 games this season, and it appears that they will be doing so in 4K for users who have the 4K add-on to their YouTube TV subscription.
The games will launch in 4K starting with Nationals vs. Rockies this Thursday, May 5 at 3 p.m. ET, and a recent Reddit thread noted that the next six confirmed matchups will all stream in 4K as well:
- Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds — Wednesday, May 11 @ 12:35 p.m. ET
- Arizona Diamondbacks at Chicago Cubs — Friday, May 20 @ 2:20 p.m. ET
- Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins — Wednesday, May 25 @ 1:10 p.m. ET
- Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Guardians — Wednesday, June 1 @ 1:10 p.m. ET
- Toronto Blue Jays at Kansas City Royals — Wednesday, June 8 @ 2:10 p.m. ET
- Minnesota Twins at Seattle Mariners — Wednesday, June 15 @ 4:10 p.m. ET
“On YouTube TV, subscribers with the 4K Plus add-on will be able to stream the MLB Game of the Week in 4K,” a company representative told The Streamable. “Those without the add-on will be able to watch the non-4K version. On YouTube, we are testing 4K with users, but it’s not available to most YouTube users at this time.”
Airing games in 4K is a rarity that only a few broadcasters can provide. MLB and YouTube are likely hoping a 4K broadcast appeals to more viewers than the younger folks just watching the game on their phone or tablet.
With its past few moves, MLB is clearly trying to get its product in front of as many eyes, preferably young eyes, as possible. The league’s renewal of its deal with ESPN includes games focused on weekends with an alternate broadcast, affectionately dubbed “Kay-Rod” (a mashup of names of its main stars Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez,) due to the overwhelming success of the “ManningCast” which aired alongside ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcast.
MLB also struck a deal with Apple to air games on Apple TV+, a first for the popular phone manufacturer, and Peacock will stream 18 Sunday morning games this season as well.
A deal with YouTube can be helpful in attracting a crop of viewers that aren’t normally tuning into baseball games, especially as prior YouTube broadcasts have successfully captured younger eyes. According to the Sports Business Journal, MLB games that air on YouTube over the past four seasons have generated 5.4 billion views and 425 million hours watched; 50% of the audience watching those broadcasts has been younger than 35 years old, a demographic that MLB would like to get reinvested in the game.
YouTube TV is a live TV streaming service with more than 60 channels for $72.99/month. This plan includes local channels, 32 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs) in select markets.
With the recent addition of Viacom channels (BET, MTV, Comedy Central, etc.) to the service, they are only without Hallmark and A+E Networks (Lifetime, History, A&E).
They recently added NFL Network and new Sports Plus add-on which include channels like NFL RedZone for $11 a month.
YouTube TV offers select 4K content, including some live sports and on-demand shows, as part of their 4K Plus add-on. The 4K Plus add-on is $9.99 a month and also includes offline downloads and unlimited streams on your home network.
If you want a cheaper service with many of the entertainment channels on YouTube TV, you can subscribe to Philo which includes A+E, Discovery, Viacom, Hallmark, and other channels for just $20 a month after a 7-Day Free Trial.