Major League Baseball and Fox have been working on a deal to allow customers to stream games in their local markets since last year, yet the same details that were a hang-up then are still an issue. While Forbes’s Maury Brown reveals that the financial details of the potential deal have been settled, the actual outlet where the games can be streamed is still a question.
Naturally, MLB is aiming to have the blacked out in-market games stream through MLB.tv with a authenticated login. Fox is obviously aiming to have the in-market games on their RSNs be available to stream on Fox Sports Go. During the Postseason last October, all games that aired on Fox and Fox Sports 1 were available to stream on Fox Sports Go with an authenticated login, while MLB.tv streamed some games to users with authenticated logins. Fox also streamed all of their regular season games through Fox Sports Go, and national blackouts for all games airing in a Fox Saturday window were eliminated.
Getting a deal done with Fox in the two months before the season starts would be huge for MLB. Nearly half of the teams in the league air their games locally on Fox-owned RSNs, and getting the deal done with Fox would hopefully lead to the other major local providers (Comcast and Root) falling in line for the 2016 season.
As for the question of where should the games be streamed, I think MLB.tv is the best option. My reasoning for this is simple – despite the issues that MLB.tv’s media player seemingly has every year, it’s customized for the baseball fan. You can pull up line scores, box scores, in-game highlights, and scores of other games, and you can also enable a multi-box feature to watch more than one game at once. Fox Sports Go really has none of that – it’s a fine player, but something you’d use to simply watch one game at a time. If you’re a fan that wants to watch your local team along with the games going on at the same time across the league, you’d need two players open at once. That’s not an ideal situation.
I’m optimistic that a deal is going to get done. It’s simply in the best interests of everyone, from MLB to Fox to the fans. Once we’re able to clear the hurdle of in-market streaming, maybe those awful, antiquated blackout territories can get resized to not screw over fans in places like Iowa and Las Vegas (among many others).