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MLB.tv likely to have Cardinals-only streaming package in 2016

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If you are not in the Cardinals viewing area, you might have a slightly cheaper option to watch games next year.

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For those who live outside of the Cardinals viewing area and not subject to local blackouts i.e. you are not in most of Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma, a bunch of Illinois, and parts of Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama, and you subscribe to MLB.tv to watch only Cardinals games or would like to, but feel that the MLB.tv total package for all games is a bit too expensive or don't like paying for other teams' games, then there is good news for you. As first reported by Nathaniel Grow at FanGraphs, Major League Baseball is likely to implement a single-team package for next season.

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.

The NHL first offered a package to allow fans to purchase live-streaming of a single team this season still subject to local blackouts, although the implementation of that service was hardly a strict business decision based on consumer desires. Fans sued NHL and the offering of the single-team package was part of the settlement of that lawsuit. MLB appears to be following suit (ahem) in the same manner as they have a lawsuit of their own pending.

How much money could be saved by a potential single-team package is not known, but we can compare it to the NHL package this season. The NHL's streaming package (which is operated by MLBAM, MLB's digital arm) this season went for $131.49 while the single-team packages were available for 105.09 at the start of the season.

Whether this is a big win for consumers is in the eye of the beholder. Nothing in this development changes the fact that if you want to watch the Cardinals play baseball on television and you live within the vast territorial network claimed by the Cardinals, then you need to pay for cable or satellite to watch the team. Whether you purchase a full or single-team package, you will still be subject to blackouts. If you do subscribe to cable, you will finally be able to stream games on your mobile devices as was announced earlier this offseason.

This is another small victory for consumers. For those baseball fans who want a slightly discounted price to view about 3% of the product (even if it is the most important 3%), then this will come as good news. How many fans this plan actually affects is not clear. Hopefully, the single-game plan will not be accompanied by a price increase to the full MLB.tv package as any savings for consumers could potentially prove non-existent compared to prior seasons.