I watch, on average, a couple innings of every Kansas City Royals game. Plenty of people reward themselves after a long day with a few minutes poking at their phone, and that's more or less how my love of baseball works. I open the MLB.tv app, load the subscription that I debatably paid too much for, and stream the game. I can watch the Kansas City broadcast, or the broadcast of our opponent, or if I prefer, I can listen to either team's local radio stations or the coverage en Español. Following my team is easy — because I don't live in Kansas City.
All regular season games are subject to a blackout policy for local ball clubs on MLB.tv. Because I live in Texas, I can't watch the Rangers (an act of mercy) or the Astros. Due to contracts and exchanges of large sums of money that preceded the creation of streaming services, the MLB and its local partners in each city have agreed on your behalf that the best and only way for you to watch the nearby teams is on television broadcasts.
Following Kansas City baseball is easy — because I don't live in Kansas City
My friends in KC need to be seated in front of their cable-connected televisions for most Royals game, but because I live in a different state, my wife and I can watch Alex Gordon make this catch while waiting for a table at a busy restaurant. It makes no sense, and it is the norm for enjoying the most popular type of live television.
I also have a NFL Sunday Ticket account, which I'm grandfathered into because I used to live in an apartment in New York City that didn't have access to Direct TV, allowing me to purchase the stand-alone option for the NFL subscription service. And like MLB.tv, I'm only able to watch the Kansas City Chiefs on the app when I'm a safe distance from Kansas City.
MLB.tv came under legal trouble earlier this year, and that may be the only way things change. Teams make millions of partnerships with regional broadcast partners, and the MLB makes money by the bus load from fans willing to pay the subscription and find workarounds that break the platform's terms of service.
Legal trouble may be the only reason things change
One other workaround exists, which is more than likely the failsafe switch should the MLB's legal troubles become too serious: the MLB could cooperate with cable providers, allowing MLB.tv subscribers to prove they also pay for the cable that furnishes the local team's partner, trigger local ads within the app, and count the app viewers so that the local provider can sell against them to their ad buyers.
That's absurd — like so many online television subscription services — because at the end of the day, you're required proof that you pay for cable just so you can watch something that has nothing to do with your cable subscription.
So we're left considering the MLB.tv, arguably the best and most forward-looking live sports streaming service on the internet, allowing fans to watch games how they want and when they want, but not where they want. Because it's like the great athletes say, "Don't do it for yourself. Don't do it for the fans. Do it for the contractually agreed upon local broadcasting partnerships."
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