Play Ball: Apple Announces More Details About ‘Friday Night Baseball’ on Opening Day

Apple Newsroom, yesterday:

Beginning Friday, April 8, the broadcast team of Melanie Newman (play-by-play), Chris Young (analyst), Hannah Keyser (analyst), and Brooke Fletcher (reporter) will call the New York Mets at the Washington Nationals at 7 p.m. ET; and Stephen Nelson (play-by-play), Hunter Pence (analyst), Katie Nolan (analyst), and Heidi Watney (reporter) comprise the crew that will call the Houston Astros at the Los Angeles Angels game at 9:30 p.m. ET. Game assignments for “Friday Night Baseball” broadcasters will be announced on a weekly basis. In her new role with “Friday Night Baseball,” Newman becomes the second woman to lead play-by-play duties for a national broadcast team; she joined the Baltimore Orioles’ broadcast team in 2020.

A diverse announcing crew, for sure.

Produced by MLB Network’s Emmy Award-winning production team in partnership with Apple, “Friday Night Baseball” will offer a modern and dynamic broadcast experience that appeals to new viewers and veteran fans alike. Each game broadcast will employ state-of-the-art cameras, including high-speed Phantoms, the high-resolution Megalodon, and more throughout the season to present vivid, live-action shots, and offer immersive sound in 5.1 with spatial audio enabled. “Friday Night Baseball” will also incorporate new on-screen graphics that include innovative new probabilities-based forecasts of different situational outcomes, plus highlights and live look-ins from around the league integrated right into the broadcast. Throughout the “Friday Night Baseball” broadcasts, fans can enjoy on-screen callouts about batters’ walk-up songs from Apple Music, test their knowledge of baseball trivia with help from Siri, and more. And, in a first for MLB games, “Friday Night Baseball” will feature rules analysis and interpretation from former MLB umpire Brian Gorman.

That all sounds good, but on Twitter, streaming media analyst Dan Rayburn reports some disappointing news:

Apple says their Friday Night exclusive MLB games that kick off tonight on Apple TV+ will not support “Pause, fast forward, and other playback controls aren’t available with Friday Night Baseball.” That seems odd.

Jason Snell (among many others) notes that Apple makes no mention of 4K streaming, either, which strongly suggests that for now at least, all games will be in 1080p. The lack of pause and fast-forwarding is a technical issue that’s entirely in Apple’s hands, I think. (I don’t think they support those features in live-streamed event keynotes, either.) The lack of 4K (and HDR) might be more of a league-wide infrastructure issue — I’m not sure if any regular season MLB games are broadcast on TV or streamed in 4K.

Excited to see how this goes, and how Apple can improve the technology of “Friday Night Baseball” as the season proceeds.