High fives for home runs!


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The Wild Card races are on. As the marathon 2019 MLB season reaches the final sprint, each league has plenty of teams with playoff dreams. In the AL Wild Card race the Rays, A’s and Indians are very much alive. In the NL, six teams are battling for the two Wild Card spots: the Nationals, Cubs, Brewers, Phillies, Mets and Diamondbacks. Meanwhile, a couple of the divisional races aren’t quite locked up. The Indians are within shouting distance of the Twins in the AL Central, and the Cubs and Brewers — now without injured 2018 MVP Christian Yelich for the rest of the season — are nipping at the heels of the Cardinals in the NL Central. 

But even if your team isn’t in the hunt, there’s always the dingers. More home runs have been hit this year than any other season in history. Jonathan Villar broke the record on Sept. 11 in Baltimore by hitting the 6,106th homer this season, breaking the mark set in 2017. With plenty of baseball left to play, who knows how huge the new record will end up? Pete Alonso of the Mets, Mike Trout of the Angels, Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers, Jorge Soler of the Royals and Eugenio Suarez of the Reds are all vying for the league lead.

If you want to watch this home-run-heavy action live during the season’s home stretch, you’ve got options. In the past you’ve needed a cable or satellite subscription (or season tickets) to catch your favorite team day in and day out. This year, however, baseball fans who happen to be cable TV cord cutters can also stream the action live, or record it to their cloud DVRs, throughout the summer and fall.

So where do you start? It depends on which team you follow and where you live.

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Live TV streaming service vs. MLB.TV

There are two major ways to stream MLB games without a cable or satellite TV subscription:

  • Subscribe to a live TV streaming service like Sling TV Blue, Fubo TV or YouTube TV (starting at $25 a month)
  • Subscribe to MLB.TV (reduced to $27 for the rest of the season)

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. 

The downsides? Not every such service carries every RSN, and some teams aren’t available on any live TV service. There’s also the price: While Sling TV Blue costs $25 a month, the rest are $45 and up.

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, and its annual rates have been lowered for the second half of the season, which 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: 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. And most carry the major national networks — ESPN, Fox, FS1, MLB Network and TBS — that regularly televise matchups from different teams around the league. 

Here’s how the RSNs stack up on each service.

RSN availability by team and streaming service

Team Regional sports network (RSN) name Sling Blue ($25) YouTube TV ($50) Fubo TV ($55) Hulu with Live TV ($45) PS Vue ($50) AT&T TV Now ($50)
Arizona Diamondbacks Fox Sports Arizona No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Atlanta Braves Fox Sports South Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Baltimore Orioles MASN No No No No No No
Boston Red Sox NESN No Yes Yes No Yes No
Chicago Cubs NBC Sports Chicago Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Chicago White Sox NBC Sports Chicago Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cincinnati Reds Fox Sports Ohio Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cleveland Indians SportsTime Ohio Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Colorado Rockies AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain No No No No No No
Detroit Tigers Fox Sports Detroit Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Houston Astros AT&T SportsNet Southwest No No Yes No No No
Kansas City Royals Fox Sports Kansas City No Yes Yes No No No
Los Angeles Angels Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Los Angeles Dodgers Spectrum SportsNet LA No No No No No No
Miami Marlins Fox Sports Florida Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Milwaukee Brewers Fox Sports Wisconsin No Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Minnesota Twins Fox Sports North Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
New York Mets SNY No Yes Yes Yes No Yes
New York Yankees YES Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Oakland Athletics NBC Sports California Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Philadelphia Phillies NBC Sports Philadelphia No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Pittsburgh Pirates AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh No No No No No No
San Diego Padres Fox Sports San Diego Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
San Francisco Giants NBC Sports Bay Area Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Seattle Mariners Root Sports Northwest No No No No No No
St. Louis Cardinals Fox Sports Midwest Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tampa Bay Rays Fox Sports Sun Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Texas Rangers Fox Sports Southwest Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Toronto Blue Jays Sportsnet No No No No No No
Washington Nationals MASN No No No No No No

Some key takeaways:

  • None of the services carry the RSNs for the Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays or Washington Nationals. To watch those teams, you’ll need cable, satellite, MLB.TV or another workaround.
  • The RSNs above are typically only available to local subscribers. Refer to the individual service’s details below to find out of you live in a place where you can receive a particular RSN.
  • Sling TV’s RSNs are available only to customers with Sling Blue. Sling Orange customers don’t get any RSNs. See below for details national networks carried by each.
  • The only service with Houston Astros games is Fubo TV. Unfortunately, it lacks ESPN. 
  • 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.

Disclosure: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.  

Only Sling Blue has RSNs, but both have a variety of national networks with baseball. Sling TV’s Orange plan includes ESPN and ESPN2, 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 $5 a month for Sling Orange customers or $10 a month for Sling Blue customers.

You can bundle the Orange and Blue plans together to increase your baseball viewing options. The individual plans usually cost $25 a month each but are currently discounted to $15 a month for the first month. Likewise, the bundled Orange & Blue plan usually costs $40 a month, but you can get it for $25 a month for the first month. See which local channels and RSNs are available in your area here.

Hulu with Live TV costs $45 a month and includes ESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1 and TBS but not MLB Network. Click the “View all channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available where you live.

PlayStation Vue’s $50-a-month Access plan includes ESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1 and TBS. The $55-a-month Core plan adds MLB Network. See which local channels and RSNs you get here.

YouTube TV costs $50 a month and includes ESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1, MLB Network and TBS. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available in your area.

Formerly DirecTV Now, AT&T TV Now’s cheapest, $50-a-month Plus package includes ESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1 and TBS. Neither the Plus nor the $70-a-month Max package, however, includes the MLB Network. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels and RSNs are available in your area. 

FuboTV costs $55 per month and includes Fox, FS1 and TBS but not ESPN, ESPN2 or MLB Network. Check out the charts on this Fubo PDF to see which RSNs it offers with local MLB coverage.

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 massive streaming services guide.

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MLB

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. But because of the 90-minute blackout described above, it’s less useful for following the home team.

Here are MLB.TV’s 2019 pricing options for the remainder of the season:

  • Pay $27 for the rest of the season to be able to watch every out-of-market game live or on-demand, and the in-market (home) team with a 90-minute delay from the end of the game. And it’s free for college students!
  • Pay $16 for the rest of the season to watch a single, out-of-market team. If you only have interest 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.

Both MLB.TV plans also include streams of home and away radio broadcasts. The radio broadcasts aren’t subject to the blackout rule, so you can listen to home team games live.

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MLB’s At Bat app is a great way to watch games on your phone or tablet — or get alerts on your watch.


Sarah Tew/CNET

MLB At Bat add-on

The MLB At Bat app is great on phones and even better on tablets. If you purchased 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.

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Originally published earlier this year. Updated with new pricing for MLB.TV and the 2019 pennant races.



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