Days after SNY signed an agreement to stream Mets games in New York and weeks after NBC Sports announced it would stream games for five Major League teams, more in-market streaming deals are reportedly on the way.

After the MLB owners’ meetings Friday, commissioner Rob Manfred said an agreement was in place for NESN to stream Red Sox games, and another deal was on the way with ROOT Sports, which airs the Mariners, Rockies, Astros and Pirates. Barring hiccups, fans who subscribe to those channels should be able to stream games live online from anyway beginning with the 2017 season.

“We think it’s a huge, huge improvement for our fans to be able to watch games livestream in market,” Manfred said, according to USA Today.

Those agreements, assuming ROOT Sports comes along as planned, would mean 27 of the 30 MLB teams had in-market streaming in place. The only remaining exceptions are the Dodgers (SportsNet LA) and the Nationals and Orioles (MASN).

Until very recently, MLB was behind the ball on in-market streaming, so the league deserves credit for catching up so quickly. As we wrote last month after NBC Sports’ announcement…

In-market streaming seems particularly important for baseball, which has become a hyper-local sport with passionate fans watching dozens of their own team’s games while largely ignoring national broadcasts. MLB revenues have exploded in recent years thanks to lucrative cable TV contracts, and it’s in the league’s best interest to maximize those partnerships. And in-market streaming becomes even more important when the out-of-market streaming service (MLB.tv) comes with harsh blackout restrictions that severely limit which games fans can watch.

The MLB brass talks a lot about attracting younger fans and reversing the aging curve of baseball’s audience. Well, kids today don’t like to watch things on TV, they like to watch things on iPhones and iPads. Expanding in-market streaming makes the league more tech-friendly and therefore, presumably, more youth-friendly.

Of course MLB’s work in this area is not yet done, as fans in two of the league’s biggest markets still lack an in-market streaming option. At some point soon, you have to figure MASN and SportsNet LA will come around, at which point watching your local team online will be a standard part of the baseball-fan experience.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • CreightonRabs

    I wouldn’t count on the Dodgers getting on board, considering that they haven’t done a great job getting cleared over the air in SoCal. Still, it’s nice to see MLB getting on board at long last.

    Now, if only the NFL could follow suit; it wasn’t fun missing a Steelers game when I was on the West Coast.

  • Bill Burbage

    I haven’t seen an agreement with the YES Network for Yankees games. Did I miss something on that one?

  • rdlink

    So if I’m reading this right I still have to subscribe to a cable package to stream the games? That’s stupid. The whole point of this is that I don’t want to pay $100 a month for a cable package when the only thing I would watch would be the baseball games.

  • Bruce

    This is an absolute JOKE of a settlement. You have to pay for the CSN (comcast sports network) first before you can stream in-market on MLB. True story – if you want to report REAL LIFE on these crooked monopolies: Right now I only have internet and basic cable. To watch the Phillies I have to get the Comcast Sports Net. The Comcast Rep said I would have to get a preferred package of $90 per month AND get “a la carte” internet at $87 dollars. My bill now total is $75. So for one channel I would have to pay $100 extra a month to watch my in-market team. Seriously this has got to end!

  • ICatchBadGuys

    I’m at work trying to stream the Cubs/Rockies game….521 miles away. It’s blacked out. The same will be true when I try to stream the Cubs/DBacks game…..662 miles away. I DO NOT LIVE IN THOSE MARKETS! Not even close. Why can’t they get that?

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