Major League Baseball has placed more hurdles in front of cord cutters than any of the four professional sports leagues. It has made baseball broadcasts the exclusive province of cable/satellite networks, even for your local teams. Add to that the league’s draconian blackout policies, and the prospect of watching the Grand Old Game without a pricey TV subscription seems as reachable as a Clayton Kershaw slider.
It doesn’t get much easier come October. This year’s postseason games will air nationally across five networks: Fox, Fox Sports 1 (FS1), ESPN, TBS, and Major League Baseball Network (MLBN); all but the first are cable/satellite channels you can’t tune into with a TV antenna. Fortunately, with some combination of over-the-air and over-the-top options, you can still watch virtually every at-bat from the Wild Card round to the World Series. Here’s how.
Over the air
Of all the channels carrying postseason games, Fox is the only one available over the air. The good news is Fox is the exclusive broadcaster of the World Series, so if you just want to catch the clash of baseball’s top two titans, you’ll need only an antenna to see them battle for the Commissioner’s Trophy. Don’t live within range of your local Fox affiliate's broadcast tower? No worries, you still have plenty of options.
Sling TV is your single best option for watching the postseason without a cable subscription. In fact, you can access a significant amount of games for what you’d pay for a couple of beers at the ballpark. The Sling Orange + Sling Blue package includes ESPN, TBS, Fox Sports 1, and local Fox affiliates in select markets for just $40 per month.
If you’re hesitant to add a streaming subscription to your budget just for the privilege of watching postseason baseball, remember that with a Sling TV package you get access to many other popular cable channels including CNN, HGTV, and Comedy Central. There’s no contract, so you can cancel as soon as the World Series ends, though you might find you don’t want to. Sling TV also offers a free seven-day trial, so you can essentially watch the first week of postseason play without spending a dime.
If you own a PlayStation console, a Roku device, an Apple TV, or an Amazon Fire TV device, you have an additional option for streaming postseason games: PlayStation Vue. Playstation Vue’s basic Access package will get you ESPN, TBS, Fox, and FS1 for $45 per month, but you’ll need to stream via a web browser if you want to use a Windows or MacOS computer. You can read our complete guide to PlayStation Vue here.
AT&T’s DirecTV Now service is a pretty good deal—just $25 per month for 65-plus channels—if you also subscribe to one of the company’s wireless plans with unlimited data. It costs $40 per month for everyone else. There’s no annual contract, but you’ll be billed automatically every month unless you cancel. Here's our full review.
Hulu with Live TV
Unlike the competition, Hulu doesn't offer tiers of service with its live TV service: It's a one-size-fits-all approach that costs $40 per month. As with many of the services, there's a 7-day free trial available.
FuboTV puts more emphasis on sports entertainment than any other streaming service (true to its name, it's particularly strong when it comes to soccer). The usual 7-day free trial is available; after that, it’s $40 per month, but you can cancel any time. Here's our review.
If you’re an MLB.TV subscriber, you already have streaming access to postseason games—sort of. Although Major League Baseball’s subscription service delivers live streams of every regular season out-of-market game, the league’s blackout policies prevent it from live-streaming the playoffs and the World Series anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. Instead, archived streams of postseason games are available to subscribers in blacked-out areas about 90-minutes after the game’s conclusion.
If you have the willpower to abide a self-imposed media blackout (no spoilers!), it’s not a bad way to watch the October action without taking on the cost of an additional streaming subscription. Even if you’re not a currently a subscriber, it might be worth signing up as it’s the least expensive way to catch the postseason: as of now, MLB is currently offering subscriptions for $26 to catch the rest of the year’s games.
Major League Baseball continues to be stingy with live streaming. But hopefully as the NFL and NBA continue expanding their online viewing options, the league will rethink its policies in upcoming seasons. Until then, you can take advantage of these cable alternatives, and along with our guide to second-screen baseball apps, create your own Diamond Club from which to watch baseball’s 10 best teams slug it out to the Fall Classic.