MLB is notorious for blackouts on streaming home games — you still need a cable TV subscription. The league might just loosen its stance in the future, though. As The Vergereports, New York Postsources claim MLB is in “talks” to launch a national streaming service that would offer home games without requiring cable. While details aren’t finalized, it would cost between $10 to $20 per month depending on the market. The NBA and NHL are even “considering” partnerships, according to the sources.
If it goes ahead, the service would launch as soon as the 2023 season. MLB.tv would still be available for those who don’t mind out-of-market games. A deal is “not yet close at hand,” so it wouldn’t be surprising if talks fell apart. An MLB spokesperson declined to comment.
The pitch would be simple, according to the insiders: MLB sees this as a service for young baseball fans who are either cord-cutters or never subscribed to cable in the first place. Viewership and in-person attendance have both dropped sharply (12 percent and 34 percent respectively) since 2019, and the pandemic wasn’t entirely to blame. This could shore up numbers and keep baseball relevant for an audience that would rather not pay $100-plus for cable just to root for the home team.
There’s little doubt this would be a gamble, though. Sports channels and cable providers are highly protective of their broadcast rights, and Sinclair alone owns the digital rights for 14 of 30 teams. Sinclair reportedly asked to run the service for “several years” before MLB shot it down. While MLB is in a strong-enough position to reject Sinclair’s overtures, it could face a backlash from cable companies that would pay less to air games.