by Kevin Coupe

Yet another example of how traditional constructs are giving way to new business models…

Variety reports that “YouTube, in its biggest swing yet at the sports-media biz, landed a deal with Major League Baseball to live-stream 13 games during the 2019 season worldwide — free for viewers to watch and available exclusively through YouTube in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

“YouTube’s first-ever exclusive live game distribution partnership with MLB will cover games during the second half of the 2019 MLB regular season. MLB and YouTube plan to announce a schedule of dates and matchups in the next few weeks … The 13 MLB games on YouTube will each include pre- and post-game shows and contain MLB- and YouTube-themed content — including incorporating popular YouTube creators (yet to be named) as part of the broadcasts. The games will be produced exclusively for the YouTube platform by MLB Network.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The story says that “YouTube’s pact is similar to the one Facebook inked last year to carry 25 MLB games exclusively; this year, Facebook scaled back its baseball rotation, with non-exclusive rights to six of the league’s games on Facebook Watch.”

But here’s the Eye-Opening part:

“The deal isn’t a seismic shakeup to the TV sports landscape, but it’s a signal that Google and YouTube may be set to become more aggressive bidders as more league rights come due. In the past, YouTube has been in the mix for the NFL’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ streaming-rights package. In a pair of smaller deals, YouTube TV inked a deal last year to exclusively carry many home games from two Major League Soccer clubs, Los Angeles Football Club and the Seattle Sounders.”

It may not be a seismic shakeup by itself, but it almost certainly is part of a broader tectonic shift that has implications for everyone.