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How to stream baseball games for the 2018 MLB season

The cord cutter's guide to watching Major League Baseball.

Matt Elliott/CNET

The calendar has yet to turn to April, but baseball is back. The Major League Baseball season is starting a few days earlier this season in order to give players more days off during the season to rest. While you enjoy the feast of baseball games on Opening Day, I offer you a guide to your baseball-viewing options this spring, summer and fall if you don't have a cable or satellite subscription. Or someone like me, a Cincinnati Reds fan (and Xfinity subscriber) who ended up in New Hampshire, a pay TV subscriber who wants to watch out-of-market games to follow their favorite team.

MLB.TV subscription

I spend most of the baseball season going about my business as usual but with the Reds game on in the background on my iPad ($295 at Amazon.com) or laptop. I plunk down each year for a MLB.TV subscription in order to watch or listen to Reds games. You've got two options:

  • Pay $115.99 a year to be able to watch every out-of-market game (which, for me, is all teams but the Red Sox). If you think your team might not be worth watching come the trade deadline, you can pay $24.99 a month, which gives you the option of canceling if your team falls out of the pennant race. (The 2018 Cincinnati Reds are a likely candidate for the month-to-month plan, but I'm an optimist and refuse to go this route.)
  • Pay $89.99 a year to watch a single, out-of-market team. If you have interest in watching only your favorite team play (and don't live in its TV market), then this plan can save you a few bucks. You sacrifice, however, the ability to switch over to a potential no-hitter in progress elsewhere or any other exciting matchup or moment that does not involve your team.

Both MLB.TV plans also include home and away radio broadcasts.

MLB At Bat subscription

The MLB At Bat app is great on phones and even better on tablets . If you purchased an MLB.TV subscription (as outlined above), you can log into your account and watch games live on the app. There is cheaper subscription option for use with the mobile app only, but it's very limited in what it lets you watch.

You can buy an At Bat subscription via the MLB At Bat app. It costs $19.99 a year (or $2.99 a month) and lets you listen to the home or away radio broadcasts (baseball is the only sport I can listen to on the radio) 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.

Baseball on Facebook

Facebook streamed 20 games last season and will up that number to 25 this season. The social network will broadcast one game per week. The games will all be weekday afternoon games, starting the second week of the season. You'll find the games on Facebook Watch.

The full slate of games has not been announced. Here are the first four:

  • Wed., April 4: Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets, 1:10 p.m. ET
  • Wed., April 11: Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 1:15 p.m. ET
  • Wed., April 18: Kansas City Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m. ET
  • Thurs., April 26: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m. ET

In addition to 25 live streams of games themselves, Facebook will also show highlight packages and weekly video recaps of each of the MLB's 30 teams.

Stream local broadcasts

Cord cutters can use one of the big five live-TV streaming services or the sports-centric FuboTV to stream the broadcasts on the regional sports network of their local team. Check out CutCableToday's chart to see which of the six services carries your team's games.

I have bad news for fans of eight teams. None of the services carry games for the Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals.

Stream national broadcasts

If you care less about watching games day in and day out of your favorite team and simply want to kick back and watch your team when it's on national TV -- or enticing matchups that don't involve your team -- then you'll need to find a streaming package that includes ESPN, FOX, FS1, MLB Network and TBS.

Fox carries games on Saturdays. FS1 has games on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Sunday Night Baseball headlines ESPN's baseball coverage, but it also shows games on Monday and Wednesday nights on ESPN or ESPN2. TBS televises Sunday afternoon games. Meanwhile, you'll find a mix of out-of-market and national broadcasts on MLB Network throughout the season.

DirecTV Now

DirecTV Now's cheapest, $35-a-month Live a Little package includes ESPN, ESPN2, FOX, FS1 and TBS. To add MLB Network, you'll need the $50-a-month Just Right package.

FuboTV

A Fubo Premier subscription costs $19.99 for the first month and then $44.99 per month and includes Fox and FS1 but not ESPN, ESPN2, MLB Network or TBS.

Hulu with Live TV

Hulu with Live TV costs $40 a month and includes ESPN, ESPN2, FOX, FS1 and TBS but not MLB Network.

PlayStation Vue

PlayStation Vue's $40 Access plan includes ESPN, ESPN2, FOX, FS1 and TBS. The $44.99-a-month package adds MLB Network.

Sling TV

Sling TV's cheapest $20-a-month Orange plan includes ESPN and ESPN2, and the $25-a-month Blue plan includes Fox and FS1. Both plans offer TBS but neither offers MLB Network. You can bundle the Orange and Blue plans together for $40 to increase your baseball viewing options.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV costs $40 a month and includes ESPN, ESPN2, FOX, FS1, MLB Network and TBS. It's the cheapest option if you want all of the networks that carry national baseball broadcasts.

One note: In many markets, you can watch on-demand but not live content from Fox and the other local networks, so be sure to check what Fox offers in your area for any service before committing. To help you test the waters, each service offers a free, 7-day trial. 

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