For baseball fans, it's an exciting time of year. For those who prefer to stream games online, however, the anticipation can be tinged with a bit of frustration. That's because baseball games are still easiest to find on traditional cable or satellite TV.
Fortunately for cord cutters, there are some options when it comes to tuning in online, some of them more, shall we say, up to legal snuff than others.
First and foremost, there's MLB.tv. That's the official subscription streaming service of Major League Baseball in the U.S. For $20 per month, fans can live stream games in high definition from their browser with DVR-style control. For $25 per month, they can get access from iOS devices, Apple TV, Roku, Playstation 3, XBox 360 and more than 300 other devices.
For fans fanatic enough to throw $130 a year at a multi-device subscription service, MLB.tv looks like the way the go. But there's a catch — and it's a big one.
Hey! I Paid $130 And Can't Watch The Home Team?
Because cable companies and broadcast networks have a way of ruining things, MLB.tv only includes out-of-market games. That means that if I'm in Philadelphia, I can't stream the Phillies game from any of the MLB apps, because Comcast SportsNet is paying big bucks for the exclusive rights to those games.
MLB, in turn, wants to preserve that relationship by ensuring high-as-can-be ratings. As is so often the case, this arrangement works beautifully for the sports league and service providers, but sucks for viewers.
One way to thwart this home team blackout is by using a VPN service like WiTopia, VyperVPN or StrongVPN to trick MLB into thinking you're located elsewhere. It might technically be dishonest, but it is, so far as I can tell, perfectly legal.
A less legally straightforward option would be to tune into pirated streams from shady third party sites. Sites like firstrowsports.eu and vipbox.tv are neither the best designed or safest looking sites in the world, but for desperate fans who want to tune into games without paying, they certainly offer the goods. Sites that offer pirated streams typically do so via links to Flash-based video streams or require users to download a desktop app — at one's own risk, of course.
Alternatively, some users prefer to use a Slingbox to remotely tune into games using their home's pay television service or broadcast hookup.
Lead photo courtesy of Wikipedia