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MLB, Comcast Reach Deal For In-Market Streaming

Now you won’t be tethered to your TV to watch games in the Cubs’ territory.

MLB’s TV blackouts have not been lifted — and it’s likely going to be a while before they are — but an agreement, hinted about at the Cubs Convention, was reached Thursday by MLB and NBC Universal that will allow people with a cable/satellite subscription that includes CSN Chicago to watch those games in-market, according to Danny Ecker of Crain’s:

Similar to how it works for CSN's Bulls and Blackhawks games, fans who get CSN Chicago can live-stream games the network broadcasts by logging in online or on the NBSC Sports app by using their cable provider username and password.

CSN Chicago broadcast more than 80 Cubs games and 107 White Sox games last year.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it includes three CSN regional networks that carry MLB teams: CSN Chicago (Cubs and Sox), CSN Bay Area (San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's) and CSN Philadelphia (Philadelphia Phillies).

What this means to you, the CSN Chicago subscriber, is that you will be able to log in using your cable provider credentials and watch the games on your phone or tablet if you are away from your home TV. Based on the wording in Ecker’s article it appears you’ll be able to do the same on your computer, so you can watch afternoon games while you’re at the office (for example).

It doesn’t lift in-market blackouts if you aren’t a subscriber. But this is, at least, a step in the right direction and acknowledging that people are watching TV in ways other than sitting at home on their couches.

The article says CSN Chicago had “more than 80” Cubs games in 2016. My count of those games says the network televised exactly 80 Cubs games last year. A small number of games originally scheduled for CSN wound up being carried on national networks ESPN and Fox. I’d assume they’ll be somewhere in the same range of games for 2017 on the various channels that currently carry Cubs games.

The Cubs still plan to launch their own TV channel after the current TV deals with CSN Chicago, WGN and ABC7 expire after the 2019 season.