The Judge will go down in history and you’ll need an Apple TV+ to watch

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Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees will face the Boston Red Sox on Friday night. The referee has a shot at tying or breaking the AL record for home runs in a season, and if you want to watch, you need an AppleTV+. Adam Hunger/Associated Press

Apple, which aired its first baseball game just a few months ago, was supposed to be part of MLB history on Friday, and it’s causing a headache for fans.

Slugger Aaron Judge entered Friday’s game one home run away from tying Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, set in 1961 during an Apple webcast of a Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox game.

While most Yankees games air locally on the YES network, and Red Sox games air on NESN or air on national television networks, this game airs on Apple TV+. It’s free if you have the app, but it’s a problem for older viewers who don’t have TVs with internet access, or people who don’t watch TV on computers and phones.

In a potentially big moment for Apple, which is trying to become a major player in sports broadcasting, this season the company began streaming two baseball games on Fridays on its Apple TV+ service. In June, he bought the rights to broadcast Major League Soccer. And he’s bidding to acquire the rights to the NFL Sunday ticket, which is now owned by DirecTV. Friday’s game was expected to bring Apple the largest baseball audience.

Friday’s game also presents an uncomfortable scenario for Major League Baseball, which wants its historic moments to be seen by as many audiences as possible. Apple doesn’t disclose how many people use its TV service, but it’s believed to be far fewer than the estimated 70 million cable and satellite TV users in the US. However, unlike cable television, Apple’s baseball games are free and available in 12 countries, creating a global audience that can see Judge break a baseball record.

In a video posted Thursday to his Twitter account, comedian Jon Stewart, who has a show on Apple TV+, promoted the Apple Yankees broadcast Friday night.

“Watch the Aaron Judge Chase Story!” Stuart said. “All you need is this app!”

As Judge moved closer to 61 home runs, sports broadcasters were vying for some of the action. Walt Disney’s ESPN interrupted its regular programming this week to show his bats. According to Front Office Sports, ESPN will not be allowed to do so during Friday’s game on Apple TV+.

TBS, owned by Warner Bros. Discovery Inc., said Thursday it is broadcasting a Yankees game on Sept. 27 when Judge may still be in contention for a home run record as well as the American League Triple Crown, a rare feat that occurs when a player leads the league in home runs. , average and effective. The network chooses which end-of-season games to show roughly a week in advance to get the most compelling matches.

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