MLBAM Chief Says Local Broadcasts May Be Available On Mobile

Major League Baseball Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman told the Associated Press this week that some baseball fans may be able to stream local broadcasts to their desktops and mobile devices by as early as next season. The changes would apply only to fans who already subscribe to the regional sports network that broadcasts their team’s games. For example, a San Francisco Giants fan who already pays for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area through her cable or satellite company would be able to stream Giants games when she is the CSN Bay Area viewing area, but not at home with access to her TV. Right now, she can only access Giants games on CSN Bay Area through MLB.tv and only when she is not in Northern California.

Whether this local streaming would be available through an RSN-linked app or through MLB.tv is still to be determined, according to Bowman. It’s also possible that MLBAM will work out deals with some RSNs and not others. Bowman told AP that the issues are complicated.

“If they were easy to resolve, then somebody would have done it, and if it didn’t matter, then it would have been resolved,” Bowman said. “In the end, we all want the same thing regardless of which side of the table you’re on. We all want somebody to be able to turn on a laptop or turn on a phone and see a live game in-market.”

Fans will be able to test the streaming option during this year’s postseason games, as those games will be available on mobile devices to fans who subscribe to ESPN, TBS and Fox, the three networks who hold baseball’s postseason broadcast rights.

Making local broadcasts available online and through mobile devices is a good first step in attracting younger fans who have grown up with access to a variety of entertainment options in the palm of their hands. But it is only a first step, as the new streaming plan will be linked to an increasingly expensive cable or satellite bill. Fans who’ve cut the cord — or never subscribed in the first place — will still face blackouts of their local team on their desktops and mobile devices.

Moreover, the exclusive broadcast territories would remain intact. So baseball fans in Iowa, for example — who are within the “exclusive” broadcast territory of the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers but are not offered any of those team’s RSNs by their cable or satellite operator — wouldn’t see any relief from the changes Bowman hopes to roll out.

MLBAM’s effort to expand streaming options for fans comes as the league and its RSN partners continue to battle against charges that the exclusive broadcast territories violates federal antitrust law. A federal judge in New York recently ruled that MLB and the RSNs must face trial on the antitrust claims.




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Wendy writes about sports and the business of sports. She's been published most recently by Vice Sports, Deadspin and NewYorker.com. You can find her work at wendythurm.pressfolios.com and follow her on Twitter @hangingsliders.


10 Responses to “MLBAM Chief Says Local Broadcasts May Be Available On Mobile”

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  1. walt526 says:

    Sounds like continuing to utilize a proxy server will be less of a hassle…

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  2. gaius marius says:

    the longer they take to figure out that they need no-strings streaming to local markets, the more fans they lose.

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  3. John Measor says:

    I’m sure everyone’s needs are differentiated by their home “market” … as a Canadian I guess I’ll need to ensure I maintain cable tv access to the various sports networks …

    … however, will / could this alteration apply to post-season games? If one has a TBS or ESPN package can they watch playoff games on their PC/tablet/phone thingies?

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  4. the guy who never subscribed says:

    “In the end, we all want the same thing regardless of which side of the table you’re on.”

    Crap-detector just went off.

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  5. pft says:

    In the days before every game was televised, I used to enjoy games as much on radio. Now with radio and apps like MLB AB, why pay for cable TV?. With mlb.tv you can get the highlights of even locally blacked out games after the games.

    There are many reason to get cable, but if you choose not to, you can still follow the games.

    However, if they don’t get more offense back in the game, younger fans are going to tune out. Who wants to watch 3-2 games that take over 3 hrs to play. There only about 15 minutes of action in those 3 hrs unless you include watching a pitcher play catch with the catcher and batters fidget with their stance

    Hard times ahead for MLB when the baby boomers start kicking off. Which is probably whats behind the global push by MLB. Games going to have to change a lot to get the global audience to replace that revenue

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  6. asdf says:

    I can’t imagine how irritating blackouts are for you, Americans.
    I hope this issue will be figured out as soon as possible.

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  7. Zeezil says:

    I’d be thrilled if I could just stream the local radio broadcast since I don’t get good AM/FM reception inside my house.

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  8. Andrew says:

    Any indication if you’ll be able to watch the non-local broadcast if you pay for the local RSN? I’d prefer not to have to watch SNY on mute every time the Braves play the Mets.

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  9. Mike says:

    I watched the playoffs on the TBS APP no problem last year. It made for a better commute home on the bus, that’s for sure.

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