Major League Baseball is seeking to reprogram its now-postponed 2020 Opening Day by creating a slate of 30 archival games that will be shown across a variety of national broadcast and streaming partners, and in-house media platforms.
The newly developed “Opening Day At Home” will offer games on the MLB Network and Fox Sports’ FS1, as well as on YouTube, Facebook, and MLB.com.
The mix of archival games will feature a wide variety of World Series-clinching games, other historic postseason and regular season games, and contests with personal and team-level milestones achieved. The games will feature also feature a victory of some sort by each of MLB’s 30 teams.
Key events to be featured include the Chicago Cubs’ breaking their 108-year championship drought in 2016, and the Arizona Diamondbacks triumphing in 2001 over the New York Yankees what is widely considered the greatest World Series ever played
ESPN2 will also participate on the day with a mini-marathon of recent Home Run Derbies.
The league’s move tries to create for one of the key days on its calendar a different type of large-scale event and fan engagement during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. MLB, like most other sports properties, is entirely on hold amid the public health crisis, and is following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to not stage gatherings of more than 50 people until mid-May at the soonest.
MLB also continues to negotiate with the MLB Players Association on a wide variety of virus-related logistics, including player payments, service time accrual, and revenue sharing provisions.
In the meantime, the league like many others is seeking to expand the availability of its archival content to maintain fan engagement as much as possible. MLB last week made every game from 2018 and 2019 free to access through the MLB.tv video subscription. More than a hundred full classic games are also now available on YouTube, with more games being added.
The “Opening Day At Home” campaign will also feature a charitable component with the league and individual teams using the content push to also help raise awareness for various charities working on virus-related relief.