Major League Baseball is reportedly discussing launching a streaming service that could solve a long-standing problem for baseball fans that have severed ties with cable television.
The New York Post was the first to report the discussions.
The streaming service under discussion would allow fans in local markets to watch to watch their hometown team’s games without subscribing to cable.
What would this mean to Texas Rangers fans? For those that are currently using streaming services that don’t have agreements with Bally Sports Southwest — such as Rangers fans that use YouTube TV, Hulu, Sling or Dish — the service under discussion would give those fans access to games.
The service might not start until the 2023 season, but it could come with added benefits.
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The Post reported that MLB is talking with the NBA and the NHL about partnering on the service. That has the potential for keeping the subscription cost around $10 or $20 per month. This partnership would also positively impact fans of the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Stars. Both teams have contracts with Bally Sports Southwest.
The new service is envisioned as an augmentation for current agreements. For instance, current cable agreements would not go away and the broadcasts would be the same. Additionally, MLB will reportedly maintain its out-of-market streaming service, MLB.TV.
Baseball faces a viewership problem. Game viewership is down 12 percent compared to the 2019 season, according to Sportsnaut. In-person game attendance was down 34 percent compared to two seasons ago. Though, the COVID-19 pandemic surely plays in role in the situation.
There are other potential hurdles, too. Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns the Bally regional sports networks (RSNs), may not look kindly upon the idea. In June, the Post reported that Sinclair tried to start its own streaming service but it can’t do it without MLB’s approval.