Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is striving to break the American League single-season home run record on Friday.
The only place to watch the Yankees take on the Red Sox on Friday is Apple TV+, a streaming service, which is causing concern from some Yankee fans who want to watch the game on its usual TV channel, YES Network, and with the team’s own regular broadcasters.
On Friday, before the game was set to start, Yankee fans railing against Apple found a new ally: New York Attorney General Letitia James, who called on Apple to allow the game to be broadcast on YES Network.
“New Yorkers paid their cable bills expecting to see live sports programming. Now they are being asked to pay extra if they want to watch this exciting home run chase, and potentially historic game,” James said in a statement “That is why I am calling on Apple and the MLB to reach a fair accommodation with the YES Network so that fans can watch what we all hope will be history made this evening.”
However, nobody needs to pay extra to watch the Friday Night Baseball broadcast — it’s free to anyone who signs up for an Apple account or already has one. Users don’t need to pay the $5 per month fee for Apple TV+ to get baseball. Apple said earlier this year that baseball games were free “for a limited time” but has yet to start charging.
Nor do users need an Apple device to watch: In a break from its historical preferences, has made Apple TV+ apps for several non-Apple platforms, including Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV, Google TV, and game consoles, allowing its broadcasts to reach a wider market. You can even watch them on any computer with a web browser and sufficiently fast internet access.
James later walked back the statement, noting, “While there is a way to watch the game without paying more, it creates requirements including an Apple ID, a smart TV or streaming device, or Wi-Fi or cellular service.”
The dust-up is an example of the tension bubbling up as high-profile sports broadcasts move from linear TV to streaming services like Apple’s. Major League Baseball and the Yankees have tried to clear up the confusion, posting guides on how to watch the game to social media and their websites.
Apple enlisted comedian Jon Stewart, who has a show on Apple TV+, to inform viewers that there is no paywall on Friday. He joked that he pushed an Apple executive, “Mr. App,” to make the game free.
“All you need is the app, and that’s on everything, It’s probably already on your phone, your TV, your microwave, behind your eyeballs, because Apple is very technically adept,” Stewart joked in the video.
An Apple representative did not immediately have a comment.