The Texas Rangers season is set to get underway in less than a week. However, many fans are left wondering how they're going to watch Rangers baseball this year.
In recent years, more people are cord-cutting and switching to TV streaming services. However, there has been a war brewing between the vast majority of said streaming services and Sinclair Broadcast Group — the entity that owns the rights to all of the FOX Regionals Sports Networks (soon to be rebranded as Bally Sports) — that's led to the removal of those networks from their channel lineups.
Simply, how can fans watch the Rangers this season? All but two of the 162 games this season will be on Bally Sports Southwest or Bally Sports Southwest Plus (May 7 vs Seattle - KTXA, June 26 vs Kansas City - FS1). Who will carry the home of the Rangers?
(Hang on tightly, out-of-market fans ...)
If you haven't cut the cord yet, you have a better opportunity to watch the Rangers this season. Select packages from the following providers offer soon-to-be-branded Bally Sports Southwest:
However, cable/satellite providers like Dish Network and Frontier Communications do not currently carry any of the Sinclair-owned RSNs.
This is a pretty bare list:
No YouTube TV. No Hulu + Live TV. No fuboTV. No Sling TV. You get my point. If you're a cord-cutter and you don't have AT&T TV, you won't have access to Bally Sports Southwest.
Here's the catch with AT&T TV. You can enter a two-year agreement and pay $64.99/month for their Choice package — the same price as YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and fuboTV — for the first year. Then, your price will increase to $110/month for the second year. On top of that, there's an additional regional sports fee up to $8.49/month for the entirety of the contract.
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If you're not a fan of being tied to a contract, you can still subscribe to their Choice package for $84.99/month (the regional sports fee is included in the price).
Ah, there is some hope after all, right?
Only if you're an out-of-market fan.
Out-of-market fans can watch the Rangers on MLB.TV this season, which costs $129.99 for access to all teams, $109.99 for a single team, or $24.99/month. Local fans will not have access to the Rangers on MLB.TV due to Major League Baseball's blackout policy.
The Latest on Sinclair vs TV Streaming Services
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there will be an agreement any time soon. The NBA and NHL seasons have been trucking along for a few months, with little-to-no noise regarding any kind of agreement between Sinclair and any other major TV streaming service.
In addition, Sinclair is planning to launch a direct-to-consumer offering, which would wipe out any need for an agreement with any streaming service.
If there is a small glimmer of hope for 2021, that direct-to-consumer plan won't launch until 2022. With three professional sports leagues simultaneously playing their regular seasons starting next week, maybe ... MAYBE ... there will be enough pressure put on either side to cave for just one year like they did in 2020.
Promo photo: Kelly Gavin / Courtesy of the Texas Rangers