Baseball this season should look and sound more like the sport you grew up with. Fans are back — to some extent — in the stands. Pitchers will bat in the National League. And teams are slated to play a full, 162-game schedule instead of last year’s abbreviated 60-game sprint of a regular season.
The Dodgers are the defending World Series champs and may have an even stronger squad this year. After spending big in the offseason to bring in a Cy Young winner and lock up bat-flipping, superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres should challenge the Dodgers in the NL West. The Mets went out and got a star shortstop of their own and are the favorites in the NL East along with the Braves. As for the NL Central? It’s not good. The Yankees are the favorites in the AL East, while the White Sox and Twins are expected to battle for the AL Central crown. In the AL West, most fans outside of the greater Houston area are rooting for Mike Trout and the Angels to topple the cheatin’ Astros.
Baseball fans have a few ways to watch their favorite team’s games without subscribing to cable. Where to start depends on which team you follow and where you live.
Live TV streaming service vs. MLB.TV
There are two major ways to stream MLB games day in, day out without a cable or satellite TV subscription:
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.
Most such services, however, carry only a handful of the 30 RSNs that show MLB games — and they’re typically the most expensive. AT&T TV carries the most RSNs, but you’ll need to spring for its $85-a-month plan; its basic $70-a-month plan doesn’t include RSNs. Sling TV, a service that costs $35 per month, doesn’t have any RSNs for baseball. If you’re a baseball fan who needs your team’s RSN, a cable subscription might actually be cheaper than streaming.
The other option is MLB.TV, a separate service that carries every game played by every team live. It’s great for hard-core fans in general. MLB.TV costs $130 for the season and also includes the playoffs and World Series.
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 service: 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, but availability varies by location and service.
In addition to the RSNs listed below, live TV services carry most if not all of the major national networks — ESPN, Fox, FS1, MLB Network and TBS — that regularly televise matchups from different teams around the league. Details are at the top of this article.
Here’s how the RSNs stack up on each service.
RSN availability by team and streaming service
|Team||Network Name||AT&T TV||FuboTV||YouTube TV||Hulu with Live TV||Sling Blue|
|Arizona Diamondbacks||Bally Sports Arizona||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Atlanta Braves||Bally Sports South||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Boston Red Sox||NESN||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Chicago Cubs||Marquee Sports Network||Yes||Coming soon||No||No||No|
|Chicago White Sox||NBC Sports Chicago||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Cincinnati Reds||Bally Sports Ohio||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Cleveland Indians||SportsTime Ohio||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Colorado Rockies||AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Detroit Tigers||Bally Sports Detroit||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Houston Astros||AT&T SportsNet Southwest and Bally Sports Southwest||Yes||Yes (AT&T SportsNet Southwest)||No||No||No|
|Kansas City Royals||Bally Sports Kansas City||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Los Angeles Angels||Bally Sports West||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Spectrum SportsNet LA||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Miami Marlins||Bally Sports Florida||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Bally Sports Wisconsin||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Minnesota Twins||Bally Sports North||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|New York Mets||SportsNet NY||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|New York Yankees||YES||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Oakland Athletics||NBC Sports California||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Philadelphia Phillies||NBC Sports Philadelphia||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|San Diego Padres||Bally Sports San Diego||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|San Francisco Giants||NBC Sports Bay Area||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Seattle Mariners||Root Sports Northwest||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|St. Louis Cardinals||Bally Sports Midwest||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Bally Sports Sun||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Texas Rangers||AT&T SportsNet Southwest and Bally Sports Southwest||Yes||Yes (AT&T SportsNet Southwest)||No||No||No|
|Toronto Blue Jays||SportsNet||No||No||No||No||No|
Some key takeaways:
- The RSNs above are typically only available to local subscribers. Refer to the individual service’s details below to find out if you live in a place where you can receive a particular RSN.
- None of the (US-based) services carry the RSN for the Toronto Blue Jays.
- AT&T TV’s $85-a-month Choice package includes 28 of the 30 RSNs for baseball — all but the Phillies and aforementioned Blue Jays.
- It’s slim pickings for the other four services. FuboTV offers 10 RSNs for baseball (that includes the Cubs’ Marquee Sports, which will launch “in the coming weeks” but isn’t yet available), while Hulu Plus Live TV and YouTube TV offer only five. Sling TV doesn’t offer a single RSN.
- 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.
One other note: Fox Sports RSNs have been rebranded as Bally Sports, because the channels are no longer owned by Fox but Sinclair, which has since partnered with casino group Bally’s to rename them. So, Fox Sports Ohio is now called Bally Sports Ohio and so on.
AT&T TV is the priciest of the five major live TV streaming services, but it’s also the one with the most RSNs. Its cheapest, $70-a-month Plus package includes ESPN, Fox, FS1 and TBS. You’ll need to move up to the $85-a-month Choice plan to get MLB Network and any available RSN. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels and RSNs are available in your area.
YouTube TV costs $50 a month and offers five RSNs for baseball along with all five channels for national broadcasts. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available in your area.
Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and carries five RSNs for baseball along with ESPN, Fox, FS1 and TBS, but not MLB Network. Click the “View all channels in your area” link at the bottom of its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available where you live.
Sling Blue currently lacks a single RSN to watch baseball. You can, however, use Sling to watch national baseball broadcasts. Sling TV’s Orange plan includes ESPN, 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 $11 a month for either the Blue or Orange plan or $15 for the combined Orange-and-Blue plan. The individual plans cost $35 a month each, and the Orange-and-Blue plan costs $50 a month. You can see which local channels you get here.
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.
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 TV market. Because of the 90-minute blackout described above, however, it’s much less useful for following your local home team.
MLB.TV subscribers also miss games that are broadcast nationally on ESPN, Fox, FS1, MLB Network and TBS. Those games are blacked out on MLB.TV, which can be particularly irksome for fans of the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and other big-market teams that are frequently selected for national broadcasts.
Here are MLB.TV’s 2021 pricing options for the season:
- Pay $130 to be able to watch out-of-market games live or on-demand, and the in-market (home) team with a 90-minute delay from the end of the game.
- Pay $110 to watch a single, out-of-market team. If you’re only interested in watching 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.
- Pay $25 per month to be able to watch out-of-market games live or on-demand, and the in-market (home) team with a 90-minute delay from the end of the game. This is a good option if you have doubts about your team contending this year and can see your attention waning along with your team’s chances by the All-Star break.
With MLB.TV, you can also listen to home and away radio broadcasts. The radio broadcasts aren’t subject to the blackout rule, so you can listen to home team games live. MLB.TV also includes a ton of video content, including classic games, baseball documentaries and old This Week in Baseball episodes.
Live games on YouTube
For the third year, YouTube will stream some MLB games for free. For the 2021 season, 21 games will be shown as the MLB Game of the Week Live on YouTube, starting with the Rays and Red Sox at Fenway Park on April 7. Two other games have been confirmed: the Angels and Astros on April 22 and the Twins and Indians on April 28. The rest of the schedule has yet to be set.
Yankees games on Prime Video
For Yankees fans in the team’s market,this season. While you don’t need to live in the Bronx to stream these games, the area where they’re available is limited — New York state, Connecticut, northeast Pennsylvania, and north and central New Jersey. You’ll need to be a Prime member, too.
The 21 Yankees games on Prime Video span the season. The first game is Sunday, April 18, at 1 p.m. ET against the Rays, and the final game is scheduled for Sept. 29 against the Blue Jays. Highlights include a July 2 game against the crosstown rival Mets and three contests — on July 23, Aug. 17 and Sept. 24 — against mortal enemy the Red Sox.
MLB At Bat add-on
The MLB At Bat app is great on phones and even better on tablets. If you bought an MLB.TV subscription (as outlined above), you can log in to your account and watch games live in the app. There is a cheaper subscription option for use with the mobile app only, but it’s 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.