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M.L.B. Nears Deal With Another Streaming Service to Carry Some Games Exclusively

Ready to watch Major League Baseball before lunch? That will be an option if NBCUniversal completes a deal with the league to carry 18 games on its Peacock streaming service, some starting as early as 11:30 a.m. Eastern time and others just after noon, a person with knowledge of the deal said on Friday.The games would be available exclusively to subscribers to Peacock, which costs up to $9.99 a month. The news was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.Under the proposal, the games — likely to be played on the East Coast, given the early start time — would start airing on the streaming service in May. NBCUniversal and M.L.B. declined to comment.M.L.B. reached a deal with Apple this week to stream Friday night games on Apple TV+ — another exclusive deal that is likely to buoy interest in a streaming service but could prove a challenge to baseball fans used to having access to games as part of their TV package.The number of streaming services has exploded, and many are turning to live sports to attract subscribers. Peacock already has exclusive deals with WWE and for some Premier League soccer games. Even a small number of exclusive baseball games — the regular season has a total of 2,430 — would give Peacock a foothold and could help boost subscriptions. At the end of 2021, Peacock, which also has a free tier, had nine million paid subscribers and 24.5 million monthly active accounts.Currently, major-league baseball games air on cable channels including ESPN, which is owned by Disney, and Turner Sports, which is owned by WarnerMedia.Major League Baseball is just now recovering from a drawn-out labor battle that delayed the start of the 2022 season. On Thursday, the league and the players’ union agreed to a new contract. Opening day is now scheduled for April 7.

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