WASHINGTON — Twenty-seven of 30 MLB teams have deals in place to allow fans living in the broadcast region to also stream a broadcast on any device with a paid subscription to MLB.tv. One of the remaining holdouts is the Washington Nationals.
That means that fans who have cut the cord with cable providers, fans who crave the multi-screen experience, fans away from their TVs during game time, or any other reason within the Nationals broadcast area, are unable to legally stream the Nats broadcast. They will be blacked out unless they watch on a traditional TV broadcast.
They join the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers in that regard.
Part of this has to do with the ongoing complexities with the MASN TV contract, which is majority owned by Peter Angelos and the Orioles, part of the stipulation he demanded in allowing the Montreal Expos to relocate to Washington in 2005.
Angelos has shown a willingness to play hardball with the Nats on TV contracts, tying them up in legal wrangling over the last several years.
The problem is that the Nationals are leaving a lot of money on the table by not having streaming broadcasts in their home region, and are leaving some fans completely in the dark.
The fans that baseball most desperately wants to attract–the millennials–are the ones who will suffer the most. Millennials are the generation leading the charge on cord cutting, frequently by never signing up for a service in the first place.
The Nats’ best chance of forcing the issue may come from the Commissioner himself. Rob Manfred told reporters at the most recent owners’ meetings: “We think it’s a huge, huge improvement for our fans to be able to watch games live stream in market.”
With any luck, the day will come where Nats fans can stream the game on the Metro, the National Mall or from their futon in Arlington. Until then, find a favorite sports bar or take over the TV den at mom and dad’s house.