There’s A New Streaming Option In Town For MLB Games… But You Still Need Cable To Use It

Keeping current with your hometown baseball team can be, well, a giant pain in the butt. Even if you live in the local market, the easy, ubiquitous over-the-air local broadcasts of games have been fading away over the years in favor of cable. In the streaming-enabled, mobile-friendly, broadband-based world of the 21st century it feels like watching your local sluggers should be easy… but somehow, there’s always still a catch.

And so it goes with the MLB’s latest offering to consumers, as Multichannel News reports.

Major League Baseball and Fox Sports have a new agreement: the regional networks, like Fox Sports Arizona or Fox Sports South, can now live-stream baseball games in-market. So if you want to keep up with a team that your Fox Sports regional channel carries, you can now catch them live on the internet instead of scrambling for a TV.

That should be great news for cord-cutters, who might finally see an opportunity to cancel that cable subscription once and for all and still get their live sports fix. But of course it’s not. Because in order to log into the streaming service, an authenticated cable subscriber account is required.

That makes the Fox Sports/MLB agreement great news for cable subscribers who are happy with their package but don’t like being tied to the living room TV when a game is on and would rather walk around the house with their tablet. Unfortunately, it’s basically useless for anyone who wants to abandon that pricey cable payment altogether.

Even more irritating: subscribers to MLB’s Extra Innings out-of-market live coverage package will not be able to access local games online through the service for the duration of the Fox/MLB deal.

Moving from the broadcast-and-cable world to the all-broadband future is proving to be a slow and awkward process, where consumers routinely get to see the industry take two steps forward only then to take another one-and-a-half back. Cable companies are trying to hang on to the revenue that comes from video subscriptions, but consumers are increasingly not having it.

Live sports are, for now, still considered the holy grail of streaming, on-demand programming — and, by that token, are also the Hail Mary of cable companies who need to hang on to as many subscribers as possible. Even as prestige drama, comedy, and broadcast networks expand their streaming-only packages, major league and college games are still enough to keep millions of viewers tied to traditional pay-TV.

Cord Cutters Strike Out in Fox-MLB Streaming Deal [Multichannel News]