- YouTube TV debuted two augmented reality ads during the TV broadcast of World Series Game 1 on Oct. 23 on Fox, according to a Major League Baseball News post. One ad ran before the game and one ran in the seventh inning.
- The ads showed a large video player behind the Green Monster Seats at Fenway Park, like it was part of the physical ballpark. YouTube TV controls were overlaid on the Fox broadcast to resemble a YouTube TV experience. The video player transitioned to short videos advertising the service. The ads touted the features of YouTube TV and included the tagline, “Watch like a fan.”
- For the MLB, the ads show how it can offer contextual ads for traditional 2D TV broadcasts that air during key moments and integrate advertising as virtual "green screens" in areas around the ballpark where they would not have been otherwise possible.
YouTube TV’s AR ads are an attempt to immerse fans in the platform and highlight its features, as the over-the-top streaming service tries to grow its subscriber base and stand out in the competitive streaming services market. The format also demonstrates how marketers can better integrate their advertising as “virtual green screens” at live sporting events, according to the MLB post.
MLB's partnership with YouTube TV shows how professional sports leagues are looking for innovative ways to engage fans, as cord-cutting is on the rise and viewership of live games is down. AR, virtual reality and related technologies could create unique opportunities for leagues to offer immersive experiences for sports fans and for advertisers to reach consumers. The MLB recently live streamed the Home Run Derby VR Championship competition on social media platforms, including Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and Mixer.
This year’s innovative ad campaign follows a similar approach for last year’s MLB World Series sponsorship. YouTube TV ran a two-minute spot that featured live footage before the first pitch of the game. The ad built on live commentary from the broadcast, moving from the booth discussion into the ad with a camera view zooming out from on-field footage to a TV in a living room showing the same live footage from the game. YouTube TV first became a presenting sponsor of the World Series in 2017 and renewed the partnership for the 2018 and 2019 event.
Also, this season, the MLB teamed up with Google, owner of YouTube, on a multi-platform brand and content partnership, with the Google Assistant serving as the presenting sponsor for the 2018 American and National League Championship Series this month. The Google Assistant was featured with creative integrations across national broadcast partners and MLB digital platforms, with broadcasters asking the Assistant questions. The campaign also included showing how baseball fans were enhancing their League Championship Series using the Assistant, and MLB created series-themed Instagram Stories featuring the Assistant and the teams playing in the series.