In recent years, MLB.TV has been something of an all-or-nothing service for baseball fans. Rather than offer single-game or single-team packages, Major League Baseball’s internet streaming service has instead allowed fans only to purchase a league-wide subscription giving them access to all 30 teams’ games.
While such an all-inclusive package is great for die-hard baseball fans, it may be viewed as a tad bit excessive for those who want to watch only their favorite team’s games. Fortunately for these fans, it appears that MLB is planning to offer additional MLB.TV purchase options in 2016.
Specifically, in a recent court-filing in the Garber v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball lawsuit – in which the plaintiffs are challenging various MLB broadcasting practices under federal antitrust law – MLB’s lawyers have indicated that changes are in store for MLB.TV in the coming year. As the league’s attorneys explain on Page 9 of the document available here:
“beginning next season MLB will make single-team, out-of-market streams available for purchase (alongside the out-of-market package) on MLB.TV.”
It’s not immediately clear if this means that fans will be able to purchase a season-long subscription giving them access to all of a single team’s games, or if MLB will instead be reintroducing a single-game purchase option for fans (MLB.TV allowed you to purchase single game plans when the service originally debuted more than a decade ago). However, considering that both the NBA and NHL have recently created season-long, single-team streaming packages for their fans, it would seem likely that MLB intends to do the same in 2016.
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.
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.
But still, for those who wish only to watch a single out-of-market team’s games, and who have desired a cheaper MLB.TV streaming option, it appears that you’ll be in luck in 2016.
Nathaniel Grow is an Associate Professor of Business Law and Ethics at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. He is the author of Baseball on Trial: The Origin of Baseball's Antitrust Exemption, as well as a number of sports-related law review articles. You can follow him on Twitter @NathanielGrow. The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not express the views or opinions of Indiana University.