The 2017 MLB season has finally begun and reached full swing. 30 major league teams spread across the country. 162 games played every season by each of the teams. That’s a lot of baseball. Finding a way to catch every pitch from Opening Day to the post-season is vital for every hardcore baseball fan.
But what about those of you who have foregone your basic cable package? If you are a fan of your local team, finding their games on cable may be straightforward and easy, but if you’re joining the cord-cutting craze and dropping your cable provider, how do you to stay up to date?
We’ll cover all the ways to never miss a pitch, from the Yankees to the Red Sox, and let you enjoy every heart-pounding moment of the 2017 MLB season.
Over-the-Air Digital Antenna
Antennas are still a viable option for those of you looking to enjoy your favorite games throughout the season (surprisingly.) There are a few upsides and downsides to this method, but it isn’t a tool to be ignored when seeking to catch as much baseball as possible.
The change from analog broadcasting to digital has given rise to a new wave of devices to accommodate new technology. Many people consider antennas the way of the past but they are actually an effective way to watch network television.
There are multiple models and builds of this modern-day take on the old antenna. Prices vary, anywhere from $15-$100. Depending on your TV, there are a few different routes you should take to set up and install your antenna. Some older HD televisions may still have “TV-tuners”, or an input for a coax cable, which will support a majority of the cheaper OTA digital antennas.
Unfortunately, with the invention of HDMI (and phasing out of the antenna), many new televisions will not have this input. No worries though, you can still purchase a slightly more expensive HDMI compatible version of the digital antenna, which will give you the same access to all the channels. Many will feature DVR capabilities, remotes, and other ancillary features for the higher-end antennas, as well as having different connection options.
With digital broadcasts being showcased in 1080p HD, you’re able to receive the same quality picture (as long as you get good reception) as your cable box. You’ll be able to watch all of the nationally broadcast stations such as Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS and many others. Fox Network usually showcases one or more of the premier games of the week. With Fox being one of the major distribution channels for many of the playoff games, this includes a majority of the post-season as well.
This is also good news for fans of the NFL, NBA, and NHL. Many of their games are played weekly on NBC, ABC, Fox, and CBS. Smaller publicly broadcast channels will also be available, with bigger city markets receiving the most additional channels.
Things To Consider
The digital antenna does come without downsides, however. For those of you in more suburban areas, the reception may be somewhat substandard. While metropolitan areas will receive most channels without issues, the varying signal strengths will drop the further you reach from one of the major digital broadcast towers.
The general rule of thumb is that the further you live from a medium-large city, the worse your signal will be. You may also see interference with your signal depending on the materials your home was built with. Some cables and piping cause your signal to deteriorate.
Always be sure to install your antenna as high as possible, potentially hanging it from a wall near a window. This will give you the best chance for a stronger signal. Different antennas will have different suggestions for receiving the best signal. Always check the instructions for best practices when purchasing your antenna.
Overall, the digital antenna is an awesome option due to its value. Many great options start at less than $20, which definitely makes it worth considering. Obviously, for those who live in major cities, you’ll see the most benefit. With the set-up of the antenna being the only cost, receiving HD channels for free is hard to pass up.
If you are unsure as to whether you’ll be able to receive a signal in your home, you can check out the digital TV reception map provided by the FCC at http://www.fcc.gov. It will show the strength of signal at your current address, and shed some light on whether or not a digital antenna is right for your home.
Sling TV is one of the newest Internet-based television options, with their introduction and release in 2015. Owned and operated by the Dish Network, it has become one of the more comprehensive options for those in the cable-cutting category. They offer what they call “A La Carte TV”. They look to supply some of your favorite television channels and programming, without the need for an expensive cable package.
Two plans are available that start as low as $20 a month, which is a fraction of a normal cable or satellite subscription. Sling TV gives you the option to watch in a variety of different ways. You have the option to stream their subscription via the web, or a number of streaming devices. This is great for MLB fans.
Sling Orange $20 per Month
Sling TV comes in two main packages of channels, with their first package being branded as “Sling Orange”. The Sling Orange package comes with 30 channels, more importantly, however, this includes the ESPN package.
This will include many of the weekly broadcast MLB games. So Sunday Night Baseball and sporadic middle-of-the-week broadcast games will both be included in this ESPN bundle.
Sling Blue $25 per Month
Sling Blue is a slightly more comprehensive bundle, but it does not overlap with any of the Orange channels. While you will be receiving 40+ channels on the Blue subscription, this will not include the ESPN bundle that is included in the Orange package.
Blue will, however, include some locally broadcast sports channels, which will vary depending on your geographic location. You may not get the wide range of sports content from the ESPN bundle from Orange, but you may be able to watch your local MLB team on their specified local sports channel.
Sling Orange & Blue $40 per Month
A complete option would be to subscribe to both Sling Orange and Blue together. Combining packages not only saves you $5 on the overall subscription, it provides all channels available on both packages.
This means that you will be able to watch all of the ESPN provided MLB games, and local sports channels.
Ways to Watch MLB on Sling TV
Sling TV is supported by a wide variety of devices. You are bound to have at least one of the following devices to enjoy your Sling TV subscription.
Mac & PC
As with any online streaming service, Sling TV is available on a web-based platform through their website. You can access all of their channels through your favorite web browser. This is a solid option for those who spend a large amount of time at work while their favorite team is playing, letting you stay productive and up to date on the latest scores at the same time.
iPhone & Android
With apps from the respective App Store and Google Play Store, you’ll be able to watch via the Sling TV app no matter where you go. Whether you are at the gym or in a meeting, as long as you have internet access you’ll be able to watch your favorite team.
Game Consoles (XBOX One & PS4)
You can do nearly anything from your gaming console nowadays. Why not use it to stream the baseball game? Sling TV supports both major consoles from XBOX and PlayStation, which is a great option for current gamers who don’t want to get an additional streaming device.
Streaming Box/Device (Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV)
For those of you who are already cord-cutting experts, owning a device to stream all of your favorite content is one of the first and most basic steps. With HD and 4K devices becoming more advanced, and the prices dropping lower and lower, they are a no-brainer when it comes to online streaming. Sling TV is supported on almost all of the current devices, with built-in and downloadable apps available across the board.
Sling TV is one of the more comprehensive options for MLB fans, giving you the opportunity to watch games across the wide variety of channels offered between the two packages. Deciding whether Orange, Blue, or both of the combined will be the question for potential Sling subscribers. Sling TV offers a 7-day free trial and usually offers a free Roku device if you prepay one or two months.
We suggest checking to see if you have coverage for your local sports channels, as this can prove to give you access to all of your favorite team’s games. Depending on what is currently available, having the ESPN bundle through the Orange package is another great feature for sports fans in general. This will give you access to not only their weekly MLB games but also the entirety of their sports content across all of the ESPN channels.
Sling TV should be a serious consideration for any cord cutter as it is a great combination of popular channels for a much cheaper price than cable. So even if you can’t find access to all of your in-market games with Sling TV, it can still be an awesome addition to your collection of streaming subscriptions.
DirecTV released their newest online streaming service DirecTV NOW in late 2016. Providing a similar service to Sling TV, DirecTV has grouped together over 60 channels, including many of the popular sports broadcasting channels.
They also include the aforementioned local sports channels, covering a wide range of MLB teams across the country. This is all at the low price of $35 a month. With nearly 2/3 of the MLB teams being featured among their supported channels, DirecTV NOW has proven to be one of the most competitive streaming packages on the market.
In addition to the major channels which will leave many sports fans satisfied, they offer premium movie channels such as Starz, HBO, and Cinemax for a small increase to their monthly fee. This means you’ll not only get a wide range of MLB and other sports content. You’ll also all the premium television and movies offered in traditional cable packages.
How to Watch
As with most of the other online streaming subscriptions, accessing DirecTV NOW is as easy as navigating to their website via the web browser. You can also access NOW by:
- Tablet (iPad and Android)
- Smart TVs
We can look forward to seeing more support for the relatively new streaming service down the line. Look forward to supporting more devices in the near future.
As with the other services mentioned, checking to see if your favorite team is featured amongst their lineup of channels is vital. With that said, they offer a nearly unparalleled amount of team coverage with across their list of supported channels. And with a price point of only $35 a month, it’s one of the best values when it comes to online cable streaming packages.
It’s hard to argue against DirecTV NOW as one of the leaders in what Sling TV refers to as “A La Carte TV”, being not only comprehensive but inexpensive as well. They are definitely a leading contender in the battle to watch MLB online. Don’t overlook DirecTV NOW when searching for a way to watch your favorite teams.
Sometimes it’s best to go straight to the source when in search of something you need, and MLB.TV is a great example of that idea. Like many other major sports streaming services such as NFL RedZone, MLB.TV is a one-stop shop for all of your baseball needs. Well – almost all of your baseball needs.
MLB.TV offers to access to every single MLB game via online streaming, giving you the ability to watch on:
With the price of $112.99 yearly, it comes in below $20 a month for the whole MLB season. This proves to be one of the best values when looking to purely stream MLB games, with no additional cost for channels and content you may not be interested in. You can also pay month-to-month at the price of $24.99, or yearly for a single team for $87.49.
So if MLB.TV offers all of the games at a great price, what is the downside? Well, the one caveat is that you will only be able to stream the MLB games that are not in your market. So that means if you are a New Yorker looking to watch the Yankees or Mets, you’ll be out of luck when it comes to MLB.TV. This is a great option for those who live out-of-market of their favorite team. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out for those of you who happen to live near your favorite team.
MLB.TV truly is a great value in terms of streaming MLB games throughout the season, giving high quality and wide-ranging access to almost all of the games for a reasonable price. The glaring downside is obvious, however, not giving you access to streaming your home team. There are ways to work around this via VPN and other services. However, it is most likely frowned upon by MLB.TV.
We suggest that if you are a rabid baseball fan, eating up any game you can get access to, MLB.TV is a great option for you. You’ll be able to watch a nearly endless amount of baseball from all over the league. However, if your main interest is watching your home team play, and you are still living in-market, you may not find MLB.TV satisfying.
What’s the Best Option?
There are quite a few different methods to catching all the games this season, with several different options coming in at a few different prices. We’ll break down a couple situations some of you may be in, and recommend which subscriptions will never leave you missing any of the action you’re looking for.
With many of you looking to solely be able to follow your favorite team locally, the combination of services may not be as straightforward, unfortunately. The selection of either Sling TV Blue or DirecTV NOW (depending on which one carries your local sports channel) is your best bet to cover all of the non-nationally broadcast games. Sling Blue is obviously a much better value at $25, but you may have a better chance at having your local team supported with NOW ($35 per month) supporting a majority of the MLB teams.
We recommend having an inexpensive digital antenna to complement these services. This will give you access to the nationally broadcast games on Fox. This will also give you access to other nationally broadcast sports, which is a benefit for those of you who are also fans of the NFL NBA, and NHL.
MLB.TV is a fairly simple solution, and fortunately relatively inexpensive. Although you won’t be getting anything in addition to baseball content-wise, the yearly MLB.TV subscription is best for those of you who don’t live in-market of your favorite team. It comes in at less than $20 for the entirety of the baseball season, you’ll be able to watch your favorite team, and will also be able to watch the rest of the MLB games not in your current market.
For those of you who can’t miss a single game, no matter what the team is, it will definitely be the most expensive option. This will see you needing the yearly MLB.TV service, the digital antenna, as well as either DirecTV NOW or Sling TV Blue. DirecTV NOW will give you access to the other premium sports channels at a cheaper price than the Orange and Blue Sling TV combination, so take that into consideration when choosing between the options.
For Local Baseball and Regular Television Content
DirecTV NOW is by far the best value for those who may be looking for regular television programming, as well as some of the local baseball games. Giving you access to 60+ channels of regular television, including the chance at your local sports channel, with everything being only $35 per month is a great value.
With hundreds of MLB games being played every season, it is a slightly complex path to being able to enjoy the games you would like. Be sure to do the research on which services will be showing the teams you follow, and don’t be shy about combining different tools to get the job done. No matter how you approach it, you will almost always get a better value than normal cable television, so don’t let a little research get in the way you being able to enjoy all of the games from your favorite team.