Major League Baseball Advanced Media and YouTube announced an expanded partnership on Monday that will result in thousands more hours of baseball highlights that will be available for free on the video site. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the content of the highlights and the timing of their availability on YouTube will continue to be strictly controlled by MLBAM. In other words, fans with dusty VHS collections will continue to receive take-down notices from MLBAM and YouTube if they upload their favorite games or highlights.
Still, the expanded MLB-YouTube agreement is a step in the right direction for baseball fans hungry for free content.
MLB has been a YouTube Sports Partner since 2005, but that title meant little to those searching for baseball highlights. In fact, it wasn’t until 2010 that MLBAM began offering full-game archives and highlights, and only then in Australia, Brazil, Japan, New Zealand and Russia. Baseball fans around the world — save for those in North America, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea — will now have access to two live games each day and an expanded package of highlights.
For those in North America, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea — what MLB calls its “core distribution territories” — live games will available only though MLB.tv. (Note, however, that I was able to watch the Twins-Tigers game live on Monday night on YouTube. I’m not sure if that’s because it was the first day of the new partnership, because I’m an MLB.tv subscriber or because of a programming error.)
But the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea are getting something from the new arrangement, as MLBAM explained in a press release:
This MLB.com YouTube channel will include highlight clips from every MLB game in 2013 as well as thousands of hours from MLBAM’s archives. In-season highlights will be available approximately two days after the respective games have been completed. Videos from MLB.com’s Baseball’s Best Moments library also will be included.
So what does that mean? Let’s take a look:
MLB has its own YouTube channel, which appears to be nothing more than a way to curate the league’s video offerings. Like with other YouTube channels, if you subscribe, you’ll receive occasional e-mail updates on new videos. You can find the MLB channel at youtube.com/mlb or by clicking here. Once on the MLB channel page, you’ll find additional channels for MLB Classics and MLB highlights for the 2009-through-2012 seasons. You can subscribe to those channels, as well.
Highlights from recent games are at the top of the page, followed by classic plays, recent walk-offs, home runs, 2013 game recaps, MLB originals (like the Mets doing the Harlem Shake), 2012 postseason highlights and All-Star Game highlights through the years. For now, there’s also a “Boston Strong” section and one dedicated to Mariano Rivera; my sense is those special sections will change throughout the year.
For me, the most exciting new content are the classic highlights. Sure, you can find classic plays on MLB.com, but you have to know what you’re searching for. On the MLB-YouTube channel, there are (currently) 90 video clips dating back to Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series. One of my favorite clips is Vladimir Guerrero’s first major-league home run, off Atlanta’s Mark Wohlers, on Sept. 21, 1996:
Let’s be real, though. Ninety classic clips barely scratches the surface, so let’s hope that number grows and does so quickly. There are some glaring omissions that need to be addressed: The only Barry Bonds clip, for example, is of Torii Hunter robbing Bonds of a home run in the 2002 All-Star Game.
Enjoy, baseball fans. There are a lot of wonderful baseball memories now available for viewing. But let’s keep the pressure on MLBAM for more — more highlights, more free games and the opportunity to share our home baseball videos. Because sharing memories from one generation to the next is what makes baseball special.
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