Baseball is back, but streaming all the action has become more complicated than ever. Here's what you need to know.
With the World Baseball Classic behind us, it's time for Major League Baseball. The 2023 season and its accompanying 162-game marathon are already underway, this year featuring a host of rule changes that'll make for an interesting start of the season as players and managers adjust. Among this year's tweaks are bigger bases, the banning of the defensive shift on the infield and a pitch clock to speed up games.
If you're a cord cutter, watching America's pastime is more complicated than ever. Selecting the right streaming service for baseball greatly depends on which team you follow and where you live. Other services are in the mix too, namely Apple TV Plus (Friday night baseball), Peacock (Sunday's first games), as well as Yankees games on Amazon Prime Video and the new YES streaming service, Red Sox games on NESN 360, and a host of additional teams on Bally Sports Plus.
And then there's Bally Sports owner Diamond Sports Group's declaration of bankruptcy and Warner Bros. Discovery's intent to shut down its AT&T SportsNet regional sports networks, both of which could affect how you watch your team. Here's everything you need to know about livestreaming baseball in 2023.
Diamond Sports Group, which owns the Bally Sports regional sports networks, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, and it remains to be seen what this means for watching baseball on those RSNs in 2023. For now, games will air on those stations as they always have, but the situation could change.
Bally Sports airs games for a number of MLB teams, including the Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers.
Warner Bros. Discovery, owner of AT&T SportsNet, which airs games for the Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates (as well as owning a piece in the Seattle Mariners' network), has similarly said it plans to leave the RSN business, which could spell trouble for watching those teams.
As with the Bally Sports situation, this could change, and with any luck more details should become available as we near opening day.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has previously said that if Bally Sports misses payments, it'll pick up the handling of broadcasts for the affected teams. It isn't yet known if this will be through the MLB.TV service or if the league will do the same for the teams affected by AT&T SportsNet.
There are two major ways to stream MLB games day in, day out without a cable or satellite TV subscription:
Depending on where you live, one of the major live TV streaming services could carry the channel that has your favorite team. Those channels, called regional sports networks, deliver almost all the regular-season games live.
Most such services, however, carry only a handful of the 30 RSNs that show MLB games -- and they're typically the most expensive. DirecTV Stream carries the most RSNs, but you'll need to spring for its $100-a-month plan; its basic $75-a-month plan doesn't include RSNs. Sling TV, a service that costs $40 a month, doesn't have any RSNs for baseball. If you're a baseball fan who needs your team's RSN, a cable subscription might actually be cheaper than streaming.
The other option is MLB.TV, a separate service that carries every game played by every team, live. It's great for hard-core fans in general. MLB.TV costs $25 a month or $150 for the year. A single team option runs $130 for the season.
The big catch with MLB.TV is the blackout restriction: You can't watch national games (those on ESPN, Fox, TBS, Apple TV Plus or Peacock) or your local team's games live. Instead, they become available about 90 minutes after the game ends.
If you're a Yankees fan in the New York area, for example, you can't start to watch the Yankees game until an hour and a half after the final out. Other teams' games -- like a Padres matchup against the Braves -- aren't blacked out live, which makes MLB.TV ideal for fans who want to follow one or more of the 28 or 29 teams based in other cities, aka out-of-market teams.
Due to MLB.TV's blackout restriction, a live TV streaming service is the best bet for following your local team. Many services carry the RSN that has exclusive rights to most regular season games, but availability varies by location and service.
In addition to the RSNs listed below, live TV services carry most if not all of the major national TV networks -- ESPN, Fox, FS1, MLB Network and TBS -- that regularly televise matchups from different teams around the league. Details are at the top of this article.
Here's how the RSNs stack up on each service.
|Team||Network name||Fubo ($86 or $89)||DirecTV Stream ($100)||YouTube TV ($73)||Hulu with Live TV ($70)||Sling Blue ($40)|
|Arizona Diamondbacks||Bally Sports Arizona||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Atlanta Braves||Bally Sports South||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Boston Red Sox||NESN||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Chicago Cubs||Marquee Sports Network||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Chicago White Sox||NBC Sports Chicago||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Cincinnati Reds||Bally Sports Ohio||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Cleveland Indians||Bally Sports Great Lakes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Colorado Rockies||AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Detroit Tigers||Bally Sports Detroit||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Houston Astros||AT&T SportsNet Southwest and Bally Sports Southwest||Yes (AT&T SportsNet Southwest)||Yes||No||No||No|
|Kansas City Royals||Bally Sports Kansas City||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Los Angeles Angels||Bally Sports West||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Spectrum SportsNet LA||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Miami Marlins||Bally Sports Florida||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Bally Sports Wisconsin||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Minnesota Twins||Bally Sports North||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|New York Mets||SportsNet NY (SNY)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|New York Yankees||YES||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Oakland Athletics||NBC Sports California||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Philadelphia Phillies||NBC Sports Philadelphia||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|San Diego Padres||Bally Sports San Diego||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|San Francisco Giants||NBC Sports Bay Area||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Seattle Mariners||Root Sports Northwest||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|St. Louis Cardinals||Bally Sports Midwest||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Bally Sports Sun||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Texas Rangers||Bally Sports Southwest||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Toronto Blue Jays||SportsNet||No||No||No||No||No|
Some key takeaways:
If you're looking to watch your local team night in and night out, Fubo is likely your best bet. While DirecTV Stream offers more RSNs (including those for the Yankees and Dodgers), Fubo now covers most teams, and its base Pro package is still cheaper than DirecTV's Choice, even with RSN fees.
If you live in an area where Fubo doesn't cover your team, DirecTV is a good backup. But assuming you follow one of the 24 teams it covers, save the money.
Fubo may not have the most RSNs, but it has a whole lot of them. Its cheapest, $75-a-month Pro package includes ESPN, Fox, FS1 plus RSNs that are available in your area. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels and RSNs are available where you live.
Once you factor in the RSN fee, that price becomes either $86 or $89 per month, depending on where you live.
It's worth noting that you'll also need to add the $11 per month Sports Plus add-on if you want MLB Network. And as we mentioned above, it lacks TBS, which will air some regular season games as well as postseason contests.
Major League Baseball's official streaming service is great for following your favorite team if you live outside its TV market. Because of the 90-minute blackout described above, however, it's much less useful for following your local home team.
MLB.TV subscribers also miss games that are broadcast nationally on ESPN, Fox, FS1, MLB Network and TBS as well as those that air on streaming services like Apple TV Plus, Peacock and Amazon Prime Video (the latter is applicable to Yankees fans). Those games are blacked out on MLB.TV, which can be particularly irksome for fans of the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and other big-market teams that are frequently selected for national broadcasts.
MLB.TV normally costs a onetime $150 for the season or $25 per month if you'd rather pay monthly. As a subscriber, you can watch out-of-market games live or on demand, and the in-market (home) team with a 90-minute delay from the end of the game.
Those who only care about watching one team can get a "single team" option for a onetime $130 fee for the season.
With MLB.TV, you can also listen to home and away radio broadcasts. The radio broadcasts aren't subject to the blackout rule, so you can listen to home team games live. MLB.TV also includes a ton of video content, including classic games, baseball documentaries and old This Week in Baseball episodes.
Even if you don't subscribe, you can still watch baseball with the MLB app. It offers one Free Game of the Day that anyone can stream live for free.
ESPN's stand-alone streaming service currently costs $10 a month or $100 a year. In the past, it allowed you to watch one game nearly every day of the six-month MLB season. The catch is that your local team's games are blacked out when they appear on ESPN Plus, similar to MLB.TV. Also, the games shown on ESPN Plus aren't exclusive to ESPN Plus and are also available on MLB.TV.
The following streaming services each have deals with MLB to carry select games exclusively this season.
Apple is continuing its expansion into sports streaming. Like last year, it'll stream a baseball doubleheader every Friday night this season on its Apple TV Plus service. Apple TV Plus costs $7 a month, and this year the games will require a subscription to Apple's streaming service.
Apple's MLB games will be free from blackout restrictions, so you'll be able to watch them no matter where you live and which teams are playing. The games are exclusive to Apple TV Plus, however, which means you won't find them on your local RSN if your local team is playing.
Apple's MLB broadcasts will begin on April 7. A full schedule of games through June can be found here.
In an unusual time slot for the league, Peacock will carry an early MLB game each Sunday of the regular season starting April 23. Of the 19 total games on the schedule, six will start at 11:35 a.m. ET (8:35 a.m. PT) with 10 kicking off at 12:05 p.m. ET (9:05 a.m. PT). Nearly all games will be exclusive to Peacock, with the exception of a May 7 contest between the Orioles and Braves that'll also air on NBC.
Like some of Peacock's other sports content, these MLB games won't be included as part of its free tier. They're reserved for Peacock Premium, which costs $5 per month. Here's the full schedule through Sept. 3.
DirecTV Stream carries the most RSNs, in its $100 tier, but some of the services below also carry a few. If one of them has your home team, it could save you some money. The chart above has the details.
DirecTV Stream Choice runs $100 per month and includes nearly every RSN for baseball (except for the Blue Jays and Phillies). It also includes ESPN, TBS, Fox, FS1 and the MLB Network. Check out which local networks and RSNs it offers.
Hulu with Live TV costs $70 a month and carries five RSNs for baseball, along with ESPN, Fox, FS1 and TBS, but not MLB Network. The service now also includes the Disney Bundle, which comes with ESPN Plus and Disney Plus. Click the "View all channels in your area" link at the bottom of its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available where you live.
YouTube TV costs $65 a month and offers five RSNs for baseball, along with all five channels for national broadcasts. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available in your area.
Sling Blue still lacks a single RSN to watch baseball. You can, however, use Sling to watch national baseball broadcasts. Sling TV's Orange plan includes ESPN, and the Blue plan includes Fox and FS1. Both plans offer TBS. The MLB Network is available as part of the Sports Extra add-on, which costs $11 a month for either the Blue or Orange plan or $15 for the combined Orange-and-Blue plan.
The individual Orange plans cost $40 a month each, while the Blue plan runs either $40 or $45 per month depending on where you live. The Orange-and-Blue bundle plan similarly runs $55 or $60 per month, again depending on where you live. See which local channels you get with Sling Blue.
Each live TV streaming service offers a free trial, allows you to cancel anytime and requires a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live TV streaming services guide.
The New England Sports Network, or NESN, has launched its own stand-alone streaming service, but it's available only to those who live in the area.
NESN 360 gives Red Sox fans in New England a way to watch their games without a cable subscription. The service costs $30 a month, or $330 a year and offers all NESN programming. NESN is the regional sports network of the Red Sox and Bruins, so fans of both sports will have plenty to watch year-round.
You can stream from the NESN website or with the app that's available on Apple TV, Fire TV, Google TV and Roku, as well as on iOS and Android devices. Those who already have NESN as part of their cable package can access the app for free.
Despite Fairfield County, Connecticut, being in New England, fans living there aren't allowed to join, because it's outside of NESN's regional network. You can click the button below to scroll down and enter your ZIP code. This will let you know if you're eligible to sign up.
Right before Opening Day, the Yankees joined the growing list of teams offering a cord-cutting option with a streaming version of its YES cable network to those that live in its local broadcast area.
Ahead of Opening Day, the Yankees' YES Network announced that it will be offering a direct-to-consumer streaming option for local fans who want to watch games without needing to sign up for a cable or satellite package.
The new option will run $25 per month if purchased on a monthly subscription or $240 if purchased annually. As part of a special launch promotion that runs through April 30, YES will offer the service at a discounted rate of $20 per month (through the end of 2023) or $200 for the year.
The new service will allow for watching Yankees games as well as those of the Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty. The service can be viewed on the YES website or its app that's available on a host of devices, including iOS, Android and smart TV platforms from Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google TV and Samsung.
For Yankees fans in the team's market, Amazon will stream 20 Yankees games on Prime Video this season. Though you don't need to live in the Bronx to stream these games, like with the YES streaming service, the area where they're available is limited -- New York state, Connecticut, northeast Pennsylvania, and north and central New Jersey. You'll need to be a Prime member, too (currently $139 per year).
Bally Sports has rolled out its own stand-alone streaming service for a handful of teams as well. Like NESN, it's available only to those who live in the respective areas.
The largest owner of regional sports networks nationwide, Bally Sports currently offers a stand-alone streaming subscription for five of those teams, under the Bally Sports Plus service. Only people who live in those five markets can subscribe. The teams (and markets) are:
Currently, none of the other Bally Sports teams (see the table above for the full list) are available to stream without a separate cable or live TV service subscription.
The service costs $20 a month or $190 for a year and includes live games as well as pre- and postgame coverage and original programming. (Florida users may be able to bundle the Miami and Tampa Bay subscriptions into one $30 per month package that gets both the Marlins and Rays.)
Subscribers can watch via the Bally Sports app on phones and tablets (iOS, Android), on TVs via Apple TV, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV, as well as on BallySports.com. You can click the button below and enter your ZIP code. This will let you know if you're eligible to sign up.
The MLB's At Bat app is great on phones and even better on tablets. If you bought an MLB.TV subscription (as outlined above), you can log in to your account and watch games live in the app. There's a cheaper subscription option for use with the mobile app only, but it's limited in what it lets you watch.
You can buy an At Bat subscription via the MLB At Bat app. It costs $20 a year (or $3 a month) and lets you listen to the home or away radio broadcasts and watch one game per day during the season. You can't choose which game you want to watch; you're stuck with the MLB.TV Free Game of the Day.