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How to watch baseball without cable for the 2019 MLB season

Between MLB.TV and streaming services like Sling TV, YouTube TV and Fubo TV, cord cutters have more options than ever for following their favorite teams.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox

AL MVP Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox takes the field to begin another season. 

Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Spring is here, the days are sunnier and Major League Baseball is back.

The 2019 MLB season is officially underway. From the Yankees and Red Sox to the Dodgers and Cubs, all 30 major league teams will battle for supremacy during the six-month marathon of 162 games that is the regular season. 

In the past you've needed a cable or satellite subscription (or season tickets) to watch your favorite team play day in and day out. This year, however, baseball fans who happen to be cable TV cord cutters can also to stream the action live, or record it to their cloud DVRs, throughout the spring, summer and fall.

So where do you start? It depends on which team you follow and where you live.

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Live TV streaming service vs. MLB.TV

There are two major ways to stream MLB games without a cable or satellite TV subscription:

  • Subscribe to a live TV streaming service like Sling TV Blue, Fubo TV or YouTube TV (starting at $25 a month)
  • Subscribe to MLB.TV ($25 a month or $119 a year)

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 of the regular season games live. 

The downsides? Not every such service carries every RSN, and some teams aren't available on any live TV service. There's also the price: Only Sling TV Blue costs $25, while the rest are $40 and up.

The other option is MLB.TV, a separate service that carries every game played by every team live. It's great for hardcore fans in general.

The big catch with MLB.TV is the local blackout restriction: You can't watch 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 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.

Live TV streaming: Best for fans of the home team

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 every regular season game. And most carry the major national networks -- ESPN, Fox, FS1, MLB Network and TBS -- that regularly televise matchups from different teams around the league. 

Here's how the RSNs stack up on each service.

RSN availability by team and streaming service

Team Regional sports network (RSN) name Sling Blue ($25) YouTube TV ($50) Fubo TV ($45) Hulu with Live TV ($45) PS Vue ($45) DirecTV Now ($50)
Arizona Diamondbacks Fox Sports Arizona No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Atlanta Braves Fox Sports South Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Baltimore Orioles MASN No No No No No No
Boston Red Sox NESN No Yes Yes No Yes No
Chicago Cubs NBC Sports Chicago Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Chicago White Sox NBC Sports Chicago Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cincinnati Reds Fox Sports Ohio Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cleveland Indians SportsTime Ohio Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Colorado Rockies AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain No No No No No No
Detroit Tigers Fox Sports Detroit Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Houston Astros AT&T SportsNet Southwest No No Yes No No No
Kansas City Royals Fox Sports Kansas City No Yes Yes No No No
Los Angeles Angels Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Los Angeles Dodgers Spectrum SportsNet LA No No No No No No
Miami Marlins Fox Sports Florida Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Milwaukee Brewers Fox Sports Wisconsin No Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Minnesota Twins Fox Sports North Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
New York Mets SNY No Yes Yes Yes No Yes
New York Yankees YES Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Oakland Athletics NBC Sports California Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Philadelphia Phillies NBC Sports Philadelphia No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Pittsburgh Pirates AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh No No No No No No
San Diego Padres Fox Sports San Diego Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
San Francisco Giants NBC Sports Bay Area Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Seattle Mariners Root Sports Northwest No No No No No No
St. Louis Cardinals Fox Sports Midwest Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tampa Bay Rays Fox Sports Sun Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Texas Rangers Fox Sports Southwest Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Toronto Blue Jays Sportsnet No No No No No No
Washington Nationals MASN No No No No No No

Some key takeaways:

  • None of the services carry the RSNs for the Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals. To watch those teams, you'll need cable, satellite, MLB.TV or another workaround.
  • The RSNs above are typically only available to local subscribers. Refer to the individual service's details below to find out of you live in a place where you can receive a particular RSN.
  • Sling TV's RSNs are available only to customers with Sling Blue. Sling Orange customers don't get any RSNs. See below for details national networks carried by each.
  • The only service with Houston Astros games is Fubo TV. Unfortunately, it lacks ESPN. 
  • YouTube TV is the only service that carries MLB Network in its base package. The others either charge more or don't carry it at all.

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Sling TV ($25 or $40)

Only Sling Blue has RSNs, but both have a variety of national networks with baseball. Sling TV's Orange plan includes ESPN and ESPN2, 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 $5 a month for Sling Orange customers or $10 a month for Sling Blue customers.

You can bundle the Orange and Blue plans together to increase your baseball viewing options. The individual plans usually cost $25 a month each but are currently discounted to $15 a month for the first three months. Likewise, the bundled Orange & Blue plan usually costs $40 a month, but you can get it for three months for $25 a month. See which local channels and RSNs are available in your area here.

See at Sling TV

FuboTV ($45)

FuboTV costs $45 per month and includes Fox, FS1 and TBS but not ESPN, ESPN2 or MLB Network. Check out the charts on this Fubo PDF to see which RSNs it offers with local MLB coverage.

See at FuboTV

Hulu with Live TV ($45)

Hulu with Live TV costs $45 a month and includes ESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1 and TBS but not MLB Network. Click the "View all channels in your area" link on its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available where you live.

See at Hulu with Live TV

PlayStation Vue ($45)

PlayStation Vue's $45 Access plan includes ESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1 and TBS. The $50-a-month Core plan adds MLB Network. See which local channels and RSNs you get here.

See at PlayStation Vue

YouTube TV ($50)

YouTube TV costs $50 a month and includes ESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1, MLB Network and TBS. Plug in your zip code on its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available in your area.

See at YouTube TV

DirecTV Now ($50)

DirecTV Now's cheapest, $50-a-month Plus package includes ESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1 and TBS. Neither the Plus nor the $70-a-month Max package, however, includes the MLB Network. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels and RSNs are available in your area. 

See at DirecTV Now

All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials, allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid Internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our massive guide.

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MLB

MLB.TV subscription: Best for out-of-market games

Major League Baseball's official streaming service is great for following your favorite team if you live outside its market. But because of the 90-minute blackout described above, it's less useful for following the home team.

Here's MLB.TV's 2019 pricing options:

  • Pay $119 a year to be able to watch every out-of-market game live or on-demand, and the in-market (home) team with a 90-minute delay from the end of the game. If you think your team might not be worth watching come the trade deadline, you can pay $25 a month, which gives you the option of canceling if your team falls out of the pennant race. 
  • Pay $92 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 streams of home and away radio broadcasts. The radio broadcasts aren't subject to the blackout rule, so you can listen to home team games live.

apple-watch-apps-05.jpg

MLB's At Bat app is a great way to watch games on your phone or tablet -- or get alerts on your watch.

Sarah Tew/CNET

MLB At Bat add-on

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 $20 a year (or $3 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.

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Originally published March 27.
Updated April 11: Adds more team links to chart, updates pricing for YouTube TV.

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