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MLB Might Offer Single-Team MLB.tv Package In 2016

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Want to watch the Cubs -- but only the Cubs -- on MLB.tv? You might have that chance next season.

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This article appeared as a link in MLB Bullets this morning, but I thought it deserved wider coverage, as we often discuss MLB.tv and its various incarnations and quirks here.

Nathaniel Grow at Fangraphs wrote earlier this week that a court filing in a pending antitrust case against MLB's broadcasting practices indicates that Major League Baseball might be offering single-team MLB.tv packages for the 2016 season. Here's a quote from MLB's court filing, quoted in Grow's article:

"beginning next season MLB will make single-team, out-of-market streams available for purchase (alongside the out-of-market package) on MLB.TV."

Well, that's good, right? If you only want to watch Cubs games, you wouldn't have to buy the entire MLB.tv package. Just how much would this cost? After noting that the NBA and NHL both have single-team packages, Grow speculates:

Of course, it remains to be seen just how much MLB plans to charge for a single-team streaming service. In the NHL’s case, a single-team package costs only about $25 less than the league-wide package. If MLB adopts a similar pricing model, then many fans may still decide to shell out a few more bucks to get access to all 30 MLB teams’ games.

Well... I dunno, but if MLB prices single-team packages that way, Grow is right, most people would just pay the extra freight to get the entire package. If MLB's single-team package is priced more affordably, they'd sell more of them. And of course, there's also this:

And, as the statement by MLB’s attorneys note, this new option will be available only for out-of-market fans, so fans will still have to contend with MLB’s blackout restrictions before being able to enjoy any of MLB.TV’s new purchase options.

So... in general, unless it's competitively priced, this option doesn't seem as if it would make much sense for many. You'd be paying almost as much as you are now for all 30 teams for the right to just watch Cubs games, and if you're in the blackout areas, you'd still be blacked out.

MLB, here, appears to be doing something that looks like it's expanding the reach of its online TV offering; instead, the end result looks like they're just trying to get people who might not otherwise subscribe to MLB.tv to do so, without giving them either a) a good value or b) eliminating the scourge of blackout restrictions.

It's a step, but I'm not 100 percent sure it's in the right direction.