Baseball is officially back! After a 99 day lockout, Major League Baseball and its players association came to an agreement to resume baseball activities. A flood of deals soon followed as teams doled out $1 billion to free agents upon the lockout’s conclusion: Former MVP Freddy Freeman went to the Los Angeles Dodgers; Nick Castellanos landed with the Philadelphia Phillies; and Carlos Correa found a home with the Minnesota Twins.
With an abbreviated spring training schedule, Opening Day kicks off the action on April 7. Are you scrambling to figure out how you are going to tune in to the MLB season? Here are some of the best available streaming options for America’s pastime.
For the baseball fanatic: MLB TV (now with one-month free trial)
Pricing: $129.99 for the year (pay for package in one payment), $24.99 per month (Free trial: 7-days; can cancel after each month)
If you are a baseball fanatic, this is probably the package you should buy. It is likely the most cost-effective service if you are planning to follow along throughout the MLB’s lengthy 7-month, 162-game season.
Beyond MLB TV’s reasonable pricing, it does a good job of capturing the fan experience from home. Fantasy baseball enthusiasts in particular may enjoy the split screen feature which allows users to watch multiple games at the same time. There is also a live pitch tracker which shows where each pitch was located in a given at-bat, along with the pitch type. Unlike other professional sports leagues TV packages, MLB TV also broadcasts postseason play at no extra charge.
The big drawback to MLB TV: Blackout games. If you are in the same region as your favorite team, you won’t be able to watch live on game day through MLB TV. This is due to local broadcast rights for other services that prohibit MLB TV from broadcasting live games in clubs’ home television territory.
If you want to avoid blackout games: YouTube TV (now with two-day free trial)
Pricing: $64.99 per month for basic plan (two-day free trial; can cancel after each month)
YouTube TV has a user-friendly interface that lets customers customize their preferences, DVR games without any storage limits and rewind in real-time. One of its best features for sports fans? If you jump into a live game that’s already started, you can watch a game summary of what happened before you tuned in. If you don’t have time to watch a four-hour baseball game, YouTube TV helps accelerate the entertainment without any dropoff in game-action.
The price point is higher than MLB TV’s monthly and yearly packages but includes the MLB Network in its basic plan. YouTube TV also helps fans evade blackout games by granting access to local networks, which is a plus for those wanting to watch games in their region. The basic plan provides you with Fox, NBC, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN U, Fox Sport 1, Fox Sports 2 and more. This covers your bases — pun intended — for national games. YouTube TV did not respond for a request for comment on their pricing model.
If you want far more than sports: Hulu (with live TV add-on)
Pricing: $69.99 per month, includes ESPN+ with sports package
Hulu is a better option for those who want more out of their TV experience than just watching sports. While it doesn’t offer the MLB Network in its basic plan, Hulu has a unique customization process that allows users to follow exactly what they are looking for when they click on the app. It is also owned by Disney, which offers ESPN+ with its sports package. Fans can access ESPN’s feature films, documentaries and some live games by signing up for Hulu’s live TV package.
MLB fans may get everything they need in terms of their baseball fix with Hulu if they are just looking to watch games from home. The DVR storage ranges from 50-200 hours, which is enough to record all of your favorite local games. It also includes Fox Sports, ABC, TBS, ESPN and ESPN 2 — which should cover you for national games as well. Hulu did not respond to request for comment on their Live TV pricing model.
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