clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What would an over-the-top MLB streaming service look like?

It might be the way the league will go in the future.

This is the way families used to watch baseball... but in 2021, that is no longer the case
Illustration by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

Many Cubs fans, as well as fans of other teams, find themselves locked out of watching their favorite team because they have cut the cable cord and many services offering streaming of channels have cut regional sports networks from their offerings. It’s resulted in the odd scenario of a Cubs fan living in the team’s market territory who has cut the cord unable to watch Cubs games, while a Cubs fan living in (say) Alaska has no problem buying MLB.TV and watching the games.

That’s why this is so intriguing:

Streaming services such as Hulu+, Disney+ and Paramount+ have become quite popular with viewers over the last couple of years and I assume that a “MLB+” service would quickly gain millions of signups from baseball fans — assuming, however, that the dreaded blackout map:

mlb territorial map

... would be thrown in the dustbin of history.

That’s the very first thing any MLB streaming service would have to promise: That anyone buying it could watch any game, anywhere. That would make it portable and extremely attractive to baseball fans.

In order to do this, MLB would have to end the territorial system. The only way I can think of to do this would be to buy up all the RSN rights, which have varying expiration dates. That would obviously be extremely expensive, though presumably MLB could make up for it by selling subscriptions and advertising time.

The hint in Jamey Newberg’s tweet that MLB might want to partner with the NBA and NHL on such a project might actually make it more financially viable, by producing a product encompassing 92 teams, instead of just 30.

I would assume that any such service would come as an app, accessible through whatever device you want to use: desktop computer, laptop, tablet, phone or smart TV. Perhaps MLB could sell single-team packages if a fan were only interested in their favorite team. A bundle that could include all three sports might be attractive as well.

This is obviously not going to happen in a year’s time, or maybe not for several. But with cord-cutting accelerating and smart TV technology improving, it could be the future for all of televised sports. As one of the replies to Newberg’s tweet stated:

Exactly. As always, we await developments.