Come Friday night, no matter where Aaron Judge stands in his chase for 61 home runs — or more — one thing appears certain: Yankees fans won’t be able to watch the game the way they normally do.
Instead of being broadcast on the YES Network, Fox or ESPN, Friday night’s game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox will be on Apple TV+. It is part of an agreement Major League Baseball made before the season which gave the subscription streaming service exclusive rights to some Friday night games.
The agreement is part of a broad effort by M.L.B. to build its audience, and includes streaming deals with Amazon Prime and Peacock, a service owned by NBC.
Watching Friday night games on Apple TV+ is free — for a limited time, per Apple’s website — but it is harder to gain access to the platform for some older fans and for sports bars that do not have smart TVs.
Many baseball fans have taken to social media this week to share their thoughts about the game’s being broadcast on Apple TV+ and how it may limit the viewership for a potentially huge milestone event. The comedian Jon Stewart posted a video on Twitter on Thursday that appeared to echo some of that sentiment.
“I’m a fan of the New York Metropolitans, but I’m also a fan of excellence — excellence in general,” Stewart said. “This Aaron Judge thing is getting me so excited. This is going to be the steroid-free home run record, breaking Roger Maris’s 61, if he does it. And Friday night may be the night he ties the record or breaks the record, and then I found out the game against the Red Sox — it’s on Apple TV+.”
Stewart, who hosts the show “The Problem With Jon Stewart” on Apple TV+, then shifts gears, making a pitch for his network and pointing out that the service is free for baseball games.
The Yankees did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday about whether the team had asked M.L.B. to move the game to YES.
The issue does not just apply to Friday night’s Yankees game. Fans who want to see Albert Pujols in his pursuit of 700 home runs will also need Apple TV+ to watch the St. Louis Cardinals play the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While no subscription is required to watch the games on Friday nights, anyone hoping to tune in will need an Apple ID account, which is a free service.