MLB Network is once again breaking barriers compared to the other league-owned networks across cable. On Thursday, the network announced that they would be offering live, authenticated streaming of MLB Network programming on computers, tablets, and smartphones. The streaming encompasses all of MLB Network’s studio shows, original programming, and games from the regular season, Spring Training, and Postseason.
Earlier this year, our own Ken Fang wondered why more networks don’t stream 24/7. The only major networks with widespread deals for live streaming were ESPN (through WatchESPN) and Fox Sports 1 (through Fox Sports Go), while NFL Network only allowed streaming on smartphones if you were a Verizon customer.
The live stream can be viewed through MLB At Bat and MLBNetwork.com, and requires viewers to login using information from your cable provider, just like you would with WatchESPN or Fox Sports Go. The providers that will be immediately participating in the launch, which begins with Thursday’s Giants-Mets game, include AT&T, Bright House, Cablevision, Cox, DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner, and Verizon. Of course, the country’s largest cable provider, Comcast, isn’t playing ball quite yet despite holding a minority share in the network.
Local blackouts do apply for MLB Network’s live game coverage online, just like they do on TV. So Dodgers fans in Los Angeles shouldn’t get too excited – if a Dodgers game is airing MLB Network, you’re not going to see them online, just like you’re not seeing them on TV.
This is a pretty big deal for baseball fans who were confused about how to stream MLB Network’s games on their devices. During last year’s Postseason, MLB Network required viewers to jump through hoops using MLB.tv with an authenticated login to stream the network’s two Division Series games. In regards to MLB Network’s regular season games, if you had a cable subscription but not an MLB.tv subscription, you were out of luck when it came to streaming live games. That’s no longer an issue. This also means that fans can stream every nationally televised game on their devices with just a cable subscription, a departure from the old strategy of nickel and diming customers to death to watch widely available games online.