Google Assistant slated to answer questions live during MLB playoffs

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The Milwaukee Brewers are one of four teams with a shot of making the World Series; they play the LA Dodgers on Friday.
The Milwaukee Brewers are one of four teams with a shot of making the World Series; they play the LA Dodgers on Friday. Credit: Dustin Bradford/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Google is taking a swing at rival Amazon with a new campaign with Major League Baseball that will prominently feature its virtual assistant.

The deal, announced this week, makes the search giant the "presenting sponsor" for the 2018 American and National League Championships, which begin Friday when the Dodgers face the Brewers on FS1. In terms of coverage, Google seems to have all its bases covered.

Announcers will ask the search giant questions during live game play, some of which will include, "Hey Google, when is the next game?" On social media, the league will create Instagram Stories— which are videos that delete after 24 hours—to its 4.6 million followers.

Meanwhile, Google's virtual assistant will be featured across MLB affiliates FOX, FS1 and TBS, as well as MLB properties such as MLB.com and its app.

The campaign comes shortly after Google said it will air all games for the upcoming World Series, slated for October 23, through YouTube TV, the company's paid video service. Google's virtual assistant and YouTubeTV are both less than two years old.

Google increasingly turning to sports

This isn't the first time Google's dipped it's toe in sports to promote its tech.

Earlier this year, Google Cloud made its first-ever brand campaign during March Madness. Similar to the MLB campaign, Google engaged with fans by answering questions such as, "Do players dunk more if they have 50,000 followers," and, "Are math majors better at analyzing the court?"

The MLB news comes two days after Google revealed its Home Hub, a smart speaker that features a detached display that looks similar to a tablet. While the device doesn't feature a camera, it's being positioned to compete directly with Amazon's Echo Show, which does have a camera.

Although Amazon's smart speaker holds the largest market share with 55 percent, Google is making headway, outselling the ecommerce juggernaut for the past two quarters, according to Minneapolis-based Loup Ventures. The VC outfit predicts that by 2021 Google will surpass Amazon with a 48-to-37 percent market share lead.

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