EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an updated version of this article, which ran before the Cubs’ first Apple TV+ broadcast on May 13.
In March, MLB and Apple announced an exclusive streaming deal for games on Friday nights. The schedule has been released through July 29 and the league and the company say the games are available for free through that date.
One Cubs game has already been broadcast on Apple TV+, against the Diamondbacks at Phoenix May 13. There were complaints from some during and after this game about having to sign up for another service. Honestly — it’s not that hard (see below) and at least for now, it’s free.
Tonight is the second such broadcast, against the Cardinals at St. Louis at 7:15 p.m. CT (Apple’s broadcast begins at 7). Announcers for tonight’s Cubs/Cardinals game are Melanie Newman, Chris Young, Hannah Keyser and Brooke Fletcher. Apple’s pre- and post-game coverage is hosted by Lauren Gardner and Anthony Recker.
While access to these games is free (through July 29, anyway) and with no blackouts, you’ll still have to jump through a couple of hoops to watch.
Here’s your guide to watching tonight’s game (and two other Cubs games, July 22 at Philadephia and July 29 at San Francisco).
You don’t have to pay (for now), but you do need an Apple ID
If you have an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer, you almost certainly have an Apple ID. The same is true if you have an Apple Music, Apple News or Apple Podcasts account, iCloud account or any one of several other Apple services.
After all of those choices, if you still don’t have an Apple ID you can sign up for one here. It’s free to do so.
What kind of device do I need to watch this game?
You can, of course, watch on an Apple TV if you have one. But you can also watch on any modern smart TV where you can download the Apple TV+ app. Most TVs made within the last five years have this capability.
You can also watch on your iPhone or iPad, but you can also watch on an Android phone by mobile browser.
Lastly, you can watch on any internet-capable computer on any browser. You can find the MLB game streams at tv.apple.com.
If you don’t have the Apple TV+ app on your smart TV but you do have a Chromecast device (and if you don’t, you should get one, they’re inexpensive and they allow you to stream almost anything to your TV), you can stream the game to your TV from any Chrome browser. If you have a HDMI port on your TV, you can install a Chromecast device. Many current smart TVs have built-in Chromecast.
Here’s some more detailed information from Apple.
There are no blackouts
No, seriously, there are no blackouts. However, for the present time, these games are available only in the following regions:
- United States
- Puerto Rico
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
That should cover, I would think, the overwhelming majority of Cubs fans wanting to watch tonight.
Streaming games is new to MLB and, let’s be honest, they are doing this for the money. Here are some things I DON’T want to hear about these games:
“The Cubs promised all the games in one place with Marquee!”
No, no they did not. Granted, from 2014-19 Cubs games were on three local channels (WGN, NBC Sports Chicago and ABC-7) and it was sometimes difficult to keep up with what games were on those three channels. The Cubs TV schedule was the single highest-traffic article on this site every year four straight years in that time frame.
But putting Cubs games on Marquee did not prevent MLB from taking some games for national broadcast. This was the case even before Marquee’s launch in 2020, when up to about 12 games a year were carried by ESPN and Fox. This is essentially the same thing, only now there are a couple of streaming services added to the mix, Apple TV+ and Peacock.
In the end, about 150 Cubs games will be carried on Marquee Sports Network this year, which is pretty much standard for all teams these days — that many on a local RSN, the rest on national channels. I’ll always put the TV channel for each game in every series preview and every game preview for you.
“I can’t get this game!”
Yes, yes you can. If you have an internet connection you can watch this game. And for now, it’s free. After July 29 you’ll likely have to sign up for an Apple TV+ subscription, which costs $4.99 a month, or for an Apple One subscription, if you want to continue to watch these games. At this time it’s impossible to tell whether any Cubs games will be part of the service after July 29, but I do know this: They don’t do Friday afternoon games, so Cubs Friday games at Wrigley, which for now are all day games, won’t be on Apple TV+.
Granted, there are some people whose internet connections are too slow for streaming. In the year 2022, though, that’s a tiny minority of internet users.
“I don’t want to pay more for baseball on TV!”
Okay, this one is a legitimate complaint. MLB, by opening more streaming services, is (eventually) going to ask fans to pay more to watch games. In the end it’s up to you as to whether you want to do this. Marquee is considering launching its own standalone streaming service and just this week, Sinclair deubted a standalone streaming service covering games for (for now) the Royals, Rays, Brewers, Marlins, and Tigers. Earlier this month the Red Sox network, NESN, launched a direct-to-consumer streaming service.
It’s not ideal for people who are likely already paying a ton for many streaming services, but that’s the way baseball is heading, perhaps to its detriment.
In any case, you can watch tonight’s game for free using the method(s) described above.