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.
“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).
Once Root comes into play, that would leave 3 MLB teams w/o in-market streaming: Dodgers, Nationals and Orioles.
— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBJ) February 3, 2017
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.