The baseball postseason often sparks some complaints about the availability or price of particular cable networks, especially MLB Network and FS1. Last year saw MLB Network offering free previews during their National League Division Series coverage (one Cubs-Giants game and one Dodgers-Nationals game) in attempts to dispel those complaints, but the network still wasn’t carried on all providers and some Cubs’ fans missed out on watching their team.
MLB Network is repeating the free preview strategy for their ALDS coverage this year, which comprises Game 1 of the Red Sox-Astros series Thursday and Game 2 of the Indians-Wild Card winner series Friday, and the free preview will run through Wednesday, Oct. 11 on numerous providers:
To make its ALDS game telecasts available to even more viewers, MLB Network has partnered with several of its distributors to expand their existing carriage of MLB Network by providing a free preview to video customers of AT&T U-Verse, Armstrong, Cablevision (Optimum), Comcast (XFINITY), Cox, DISH, DIRECTV, DIRECTV Now, Fidelity, Frontier, Grande, GVTC, Mid-Hudson Cable, Norwood Light Broadband, RCN and Verizon FiOS from October 4-11. MLB Network’s Postseason games are also available anywhere in the United States via an authenticated live stream to customers of participating pay TV providers through MLB.com At Bat, MLBNetwork.com/Watch and MLB.TV.
This seems likely to still cause some complaints, though (because baseball fans are never really complacement). For example, this Houston Chronicle story mentions that cable provider Suddenlink doesn’t offer (and hasn’t ever offered) MLB Network. And this Cleveland 19 (WOIO, the local CBS affiliate) story mentions that MLB Network is available on Charter Spectrum (at the Silver level), but they haven’t signed on for the free preview yet. As for those who only have streaming services, MLB Network isn’t available at all on Sling TV. It’s also not available on the newly launched YouTube TV, which is funny considering how YouTube TV has signed up to be the presenting sponsor of the World Series. And while MLBN is available on Playstation Vue, Vue is another notable omission in that list of free providers.
So, there will be some people unable to watch these games regardless of the free previews, but that’s typically true of most games offered on cable. Still, it seems generally positive for MLB Network to offer these. They could try and make people buy the network to watch these playoff games, but that would lead to a lot more backlash, and the approach here seems to be offering the preview and hoping that some viewers will choose to subscribe afterwards. We’ll see how it works out for them.