Baseball is back! We cover all the details of where to watch your favorite teams in this guide to watching Major League Baseball Online in 2020, even if you don’t have cable. Here is a table of contents of everything covered in this article.
Changes for the 2020 MLB Season
While the official schedule has not been released, we know that each team will play 60 regular-season games in 2020. Each team will play their division rivals ten times apiece for 40 games. Each team will also play 20 inter-league games. To limit travel, each team will play its regional counterpart in the other league. For example, the New York Yankees will play their 20 inter-league games against teams in the National League Eastern Division.
Players are set to report for a type of “spring” training on July 1st. Training will take place in each team’s home ballpark. After a few weeks of training, Opening day will be on Friday, July 23rd. Teams are to submit a 60 player roster by Tuesday, June 30th, at 3 pm. That roster will then be cut to a 30 person roster at the start of the season. Teams will then have two weeks after the season starts to get down to 28 players, and then after four weeks, teams need to be at 26 players for the remainder of the season.
Teams will be able to make transactions starting this Friday with a trade deadline of August 31st instead of the usual trade deadline of July 31st.
MLB is making two significant rule changes for the 2020 season.
Universal Designated Hitter (DH)
The 2020 season will see a DH in both leagues, meaning National League pitchers will no longer bat. While some NL fans aren’t happy about this, the company line is “safety.” MLB claims they are using the universal DH rule to keep pitchers healthy by eliminating the need to swing and run the bases. This rule change makes sense in light of the quick ramp-up to the season. Good pitching will be at a premium, with teams having so little time to mold their rotations.
While this change is currently only for the 2020 season, it’s likely this is how MLB implements a universal DH going forward. Pitcher injuries should naturally decrease, and that fact could be a reason to keep the universal DH rule in place after 2020.
Free Baserunner in Extra Innings
When the game goes to extra innings, each team will start their at-bats with a runner on second. The intent here is to hasten the time it takes to play a game and avoid games going into virtual doubleheader due to extra innings. This rule has been experimented with in the minors and seems to decrease the time required to settle tie games after nine innings.
COVID-19 Inactive List
There will be a COVID-19-specific inactive list for players testing positive or show symptoms for COVID-19. There will be no set amount of time for the player to sit out, as there are with the current disabled lists and injury reserves.
Watching Baseball without Cable in 2020
People want to watch the 2020 MLB season and don’t have cable usually fall into one of the two following categories:
- You have a single favorite team and live in their TV market
- You want to watch a team or teams in TV markets outside where you live
Watch Baseball Online (In-Market Teams)
The chart below provides each MLB Team and the streaming service that carries the regional sports network that airs all their games. If there isn’t a streaming service carrying a particular team’s regional network, we linked a possible workaround. Proceeding the cart below is a section briefly explaining using the services in the chart
* YouTube TV carries this network. However, due to the contract with they have with Sinclair (the owner of the stations) some areas within the teams market may not have access. Please check YouTube TVs website to make sure which channels you will receive.
Watching Baseball on Streaming Services
Each MLB team has a regional sports network that airs all their regular-season games. These networks are typically found on cable. However, as you can see in the chart above, plenty of these team’s games are available on streaming services with no cable required.
However, to have access to the regional sports network, you have to live within the team’s market. If you want to watch the Houston Astros through FuboTV, you’ll need to live within the Astros broadcast market. No need to worry. When you sign up for the service, they will indicate the regional sports channels you will receive. Just make sure your team’s channels are there.
Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV offers the most local access to the most teams (Tied with YouTube TV). They provide regional sports networks for 21 different baseball teams. Also, they are your best way to watch the Chicago Cubs if you live in that market. Hulu also carries the local Fox channel in most parts of the country, along with TBS, ESPN, and FS1 for watching nationally televised games.
Hulu Live TV will cost you $54.99 per month. However, that includes access to Hulu’s on-demand streaming library, a cloud DVR, and more. To see what channels are available through Hulu Live TV in your area, check out the tool: Channels Available by Zip Code
Hulu is supported on Roku, Fire TV Devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, iOS, Android, and more. For more information on this service, please check out Hulu Live TV review.
YouTube TV offers 18 teams. YouTube TV will cost $64.99 per month and includes a DVR. YouTube TV also carries the local Fox channel in most parts of the country, along with TBS, ESPN, MLB Network, and FS1 for watching nationally televised games.
The service is available on Roku, Android, iOS (includes AirPlay to Apple TV), and Chromecasts/Chromecast-compatible TVs. Please read our review of YouTube TV for more details.
AT&T TV Now
AT&T TV Now carries 24 MLB teams. However, the package offering regional sports networks costs $80 per month. AT&T TV Now also carries the local Fox channel in some parts of the country, along with TBS, ESPN, and FS1 for watching nationally televised games. AT&T TV NOW is supported on the following devices:
- 4th Gen Apple TV
- Google Chromecast, 2nd gen and higher
- Amazon Fire TV
- Fire TV Stick
- iOS devices
- Chrome and Safari browsers
See our review of AT&T Now for more details.
While fuboTV only offers 6 MLB teams, they are the the most affordable service that allows you to watch the Houston Astros. FuboTV carries the local Fox channel in some parts of the country along with MLB Network and FS1 for watching nationally televised games.
They offer a 1-week free trial. After the trial, its basic package costs $59.99/month. The FuboTV app is available on major platforms, including AppleTV, AndroidTV, Roku, and Amazon FireTV. Check out our review of FuboTV for more details.
Sling TV only provides access to the regional sports networks for the Athletics and Giants. However, the service only costs $30 per month, so I strongly recommend using Sling for those teams. However, Sling carries, also carries TBS, ESPN, MLB Network, and FS1 for watching nationally televised games.
The NBC Sports Networks you want is available as part of their “Blue package.” You can try a 3-day free trial and see if this solution will work for you.
Sling TV is supported on Windows and Mac PCs and laptops, Android and iOS devices, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Nexus player, Xbox One, 4th Generation Apple TV, Chromecast, and more.
Watch Baseball with MLB.TV (Out of Market Teams)
MLB.TV is the best solution to watch baseball online, Especially if you don’t live in the television broadcast market of your favorite teams MLB.TV allows subscribers to watch every game, for every team, all season long, with MLB.TV you can watch baseball online, on TV and smartphones and tablets. MLB.TV Premium service is $59.99 for the shortened 2020 season.
They also offer a monthly subscription package. If you want to follow a single team for the year, you can do that for $49.99. MLB.TV allows for watching MLB games on Roku, Apple TV, Smart Devices, and more. You can check out their subscription packages at MLB.TV.
The MLB.TV Premium subscription is supported on the following devices:
- Xbox One
- Apple TV
- iPhone / iPad
- Amazon Fire TV
Subscriptions include both Home and Away broadcast feeds. Subscribers also receive a free subscription to the “MLB At Bat” App.
Overall MLB.TV is a quality product that delivers Live MLB games in HD quality video. However, two functions blew me away.
First, the in-game highlights and stats update and automatically load as the action happens. A picture in picture window allows users to select highlights to watch from the game.
The other function that knocked my socks off was the number of games you can watch simultaneously. On PC or Mac, Mosaic View allows up to four games at once in a quad view, Split screen or picture in picture.
On top of those features, MLB.TV Premium provides the following:
- Live Game DVR Controls
- Full Game Archives
- Customized Fantasy Player Tracker
- Clickable Linescores
- A Pitch by Pitch Widget, that tracks speed, location and pitch type
- Live Audio Broadcast of Games
MLB.TV T-Mobile Deal
New and existing T-Mobile customers can get MLB.TV free all season. Make sure you take advantage of this offer before it ends on August 3rd. You can check for details on this offer at T-Mobiles website. Existing customers can take advantage through the “T-Mobile Tuesdays” app.
MLB.TV Blackout Delay
Pro Tip: Try This Blackout Workaround to watch the games you want to watch.
While MLB.TV is a great product, and a must-have for baseball fans, those interested in their local team may take issue with the 90-minute blackout delay (there is a workaround I’ll get to in a moment). It wasn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows for cord-cutters.
Local teams in your viewing area and nationally televised games are available 90 minutes after a game’s conclusion due to blackout rules. Yet, all other games are available for watching baseball online or on a supported device.
The 90-minute delay to your local team’s games isn’t ideal, but it’s workable. Day games are available for viewing after dinner, and night games typically open up around midnight. Subscribers can fast-forward through all the downtime and be finished within an hour, or wait until the next day if they want to enjoy the game’s pace.
Furthermore, if you are desperate to catch the live-action and don’t want to use the blackout workaround, there is no delay in the live audio. Occasionally I’ll sit on the porch and listen to the live audio broadcast like I did when I was a kid. If you enjoy baseball on the radio and only care about your local team, you are set without MLB.TV. Every team has a local radio broadcast that airs MLB games live.
Of course, if you live outside your favorite team’s viewing area, you can watch their games live without worrying about blackout unless it’s a nationally televised game. This MLB blackout map indicates the blackout region for each team. The audio feature isn’t subject to blackout rules.
What is Subject to the Blackout Delay?
- Home and Away games of the designated team if you live within their blackout territory
- Games that broadcast nationally such as the ESPN Sunday game or Fox Saturday game
- Play in games (Playoff tie-breakers)
- Post Season Games, but there is a way around it
MLB.TV is a great product, and if it weren’t for the blackout delays, it would be perfect. If you are an MLB fan that follows several teams or you don’t mind waiting the 90 minutes for your local team, then MLB.TV will work for you. On the other hand, if you are only in it for your local team and enjoy the nostalgia, save your money and turn on the radio.
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