MLB Puts Games On YouTube for Free, But Not in the U.S.

Major League Baseball is expanding the amount of content that is viewable for free online, with the launch of a new service on YouTube (s GOOG) that makes full-length, catch-up games available on a free, ad-supported basis. The only catch? The games aren’t available to U.S. viewers.

MLB and YouTube are together launching a new MLB.JP channel that will feature game highlights and full-length game recaps in Japan 36 hours after the games originally air. Unlike the baseball league’s service in the U.S., videos on the MLB.JP channel will be free to watch on an ad-supported basis. The site will have thousands of videos available for Japanese baseball fans: In addition to all full-length games from 2009 and the current season, the MLB.JP channel will feature condensed games, game replays, and FastCast, a quick recap of every game played on a given day. It will also have historic game footage and player highlight reels from Japanese MLB players.

Japanese baseball fans won’t be the only ones with access to MLB games for free; as part of the deal, YouTube will also make game clips and highlights available to fans in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and Russia. Those fans can view the clips on YouTube’s new MLB Global channel.

YouTube says the MLB deal represents the largest partnership for premium sports content in its history, as it seeks to add more sports videos to the mostly UGC site. Earlier this year, YouTube inked a deal with the Indian Premier League to make live cricket matches available worldwide on an ad-supported basis. That deal proved even better than both parties expected, as IPL matches generated more than 51 million streams during the 45-day tournament.

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