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MLB to livestream games on YouTube

New Turkish Law Allows Government Control Of Media Outlets And Internet Content

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - MARCH 23: The YouTube and Netflix app logos are seen on a television screen on March 23, 2018 in Istanbul, Turkey. The Government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan passed a new law on March 22 extending the reach of the country’s radio and TV censor to the internet. The new law will allow RTUK, the states media watchdog, to monitor online broadcasts and block content of social media sites and streaming services including Netflix and YouTube. Turkey already bans many websites including Wikipedia, which has been blocked for more than a year. The move came a day after private media company Dogan Media Company announced it would sell to pro-government conglomerate Demiroren Holding AS. The Dogan news group was the only remaining news outlet not to be under government control, the sale, which includes assets in CNN Turk and Hurriyet Newspaper completes the governments control of the Turkish media. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

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YouTube and MLB have announced a deal in which the former will live stream 13 games during the second half of this season. They’ll be free games, available exclusively on YouTube (i.e. the games won’t be on any TV network or on MLB and YouTube plan to announce which games will be streamed in the next few weeks.

Thirteen games isn’t a heck of a lot, but you have to wonder if this isn’t a test run for something grander down the road. Just as Facebook has been rumored to be doing its modest live stream of games as a possible runup to becoming a bidder on a more comprehensive broadcast rights package, perhaps YouTube is thinking about entering that world too. Indeed, they already have dipped a toe into Major League Soccer rights on a local level, so baseball does not seem like a stretch.

If anything gives me pause about this its the fact that the broadcasts will reportedly include “YouTube-themed content” which includes incorporating popular YouTube stars as part of the broadcasts. Which, as a parent of teenagers who spend a LOT of time on YouTube, makes me worry that the broadcasts will be damn nigh incomprehensible.

But that’s just the old man in me speaking. I’m mostly not too worried about this because (a) the production of the games themselves will be handled by MLB Network so camera work and sound and graphics and all of that should be pretty familiar; and (b) you can’t complain that MLB only cares about old white fans stuck in a previous era while simultaneously complaining about an effort to appeal to a different demographic. The fact is, a huge number of kids get most of their entertainment online, overwhelmingly from YouTube, so as long a the synergies aren’t embarrassing or overly distracting, it makes perfect sense for baseball to pursue them.

The proof, as always, will be in the quality of the broadcast.

Follow @craigcalcaterra