Jun 4, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. (23) walks off the field at the end of the seventh inning against the Chicago Cubs at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres, at least for broadcast purposes, are effectively without a home, couch-surfing, as a temporary measure, on MLB.TV. We were warned of this possibility months earlier when Diamond Sports filed for bankruptcy, leaving its 19 regional sports networks in flux. Still, the latest development in the ongoing RSN saga is unprecedented with Diamond, following multiple missed payments, willingly relinquishing its broadcast rights to MLB.

Where the Padres go from here is anyone’s guess. In lieu of a permanent solution, games will be broadcast on MLB.TV and available to stream for $19.99 a month or $74.99 for the remainder of the season. Locally, Padres games will appear on a variety of stations including DirecTV Stream (channel 694-3), AT&T U-Verse (781), Spectrum San Diego (305) and California YurView (4). The silver lining—if there is one—is that Padres games will be available in twice as many households as before, expanding their reach from 1.13 to 3.264 million homes.

However, this patchwork approach is probably unsustainable with the Padres and MLB likely to weigh all their options. In fact, according to sports media reporter Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Padres games could find a short-term home on ESPN’s streaming service, ESPN+.

What’s in it for ESPN? Easy. In exchange for its platform, the network would get a cut of the $19.99 monthly subscription, limiting sales to customers within greater San Diego by employing a technology known as “geofencing.” It’s one of many ideas the league is considering amid the Padres’ current predicament, left high and dry by the collapse of Diamond Sports and, in a broader sense, the entire RSN construct.

This is probably where sports are headed with leagues and teams uncovering a clever new revenue source, embracing the streaming revolution by putting more and more games behind paywalls. Mindful of setting a precedent, the Padres will provide the ultimate test case for MLB, experimenting with a direct-to-consumer model that could be a groundbreaking innovation in the way we consume live sports, but also a burden to fans tired of jumping through hoops.

[New York Post]

About Jesse Pantuosco

Jesse Pantuosco joined Awful Announcing as a contributing writer in May 2023. He’s also written for Audacy and NBC Sports. A graduate of Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a master’s degree in creative writing from Fairfield University, Pantuosco has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut and never misses a Red Sox, Celtics or Patriots game.