YouTube TV Doubles Down on Controversial World Series Partnership in Expanded MLB Deal

Live TV streaming service will 'present' World Series for 2 more years

YouTube TV will have an expanded presence throughout the MLB season. Source: Getty Images
Headshot of Jason Lynch

If you thought the “World Series presented by YouTube TV” was a mouthful last fall, you’ll now have two more years to get used to the moniker.

The live TV streaming service and Major League Baseball have expanded their groundbreaking, yet controversial partnership in a new deal that will see YouTube TV return to “present” the World Series in 2018 and 2019, as well as incorporate the brand further into games during a new season-long sponsorship.

MLB Network will be added to YouTube TV starting today. At a future date, YouTube TV subscribers will be able to add the streaming service MLB.tv “for an additional fee,” the companies said.

“YouTube brought tremendous creativity, marketing energy and innovation to the most exciting part of our year, the postseason and World Series,” said Noah Garden, MLB’s evp of commerce, in a statement. “Their engagement with our young fans, rising stars and clubs showed that YouTube TV is a natural partner for our sport, and we’re proud to build on this groundbreaking relationship.”

The live TV streaming service, which launched last April, became the first brand to “present” the World Series last fall in a partnership that sparked controversy but also resulted in big sign-up increases and brand awareness lifts for the company.

“It was pretty encompassing. If you watched the World Series, you may not have taken action, but you definitely walked away with brand awareness for YouTube TV,” Angela Courtin, global head of YouTube TV and originals marketing, told Adweek in November.

In addition to appearing in the logo alongside the World Series, YouTube TV also popped up in six-second, 30-second and two-minute spots during the game, as well as its controversial ad placement behind home plate. That generated some controversy during the Series, as the red “play” button in the middle of the screen made some viewers feel as if they were watching a YouTube video.

Others grumbled about the “presented by” partnership—NBC Sports called it the moment when “the advertising Rubicon was crossed”— but YouTube said that overdelivered more than any other element of its World Series campaign.

“As a marketer, you look for those unmissable moments. And I think the ‘presented by’ was an unmissable moment,” Courtin said. “That exceeded our expectations.”

In addition to returning to the World Series, YouTube TV will also partner with MLB on a new season-long sponsorship called “First Pitch,” which will incorporate the YouTube TV brand during the first pitches of games on the MLB Network and MLB.tv.

The partnership includes national TV spots, on-air call-outs during games, branding across MLB’s digital properties and social media accounts, and in-stadium promotion. YouTube TV said it will once again use MLB players as part of the partnership, as it did last year.


@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.
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