October 18, 2021
With the national pastime in the throes of postseason play, Major League Baseball is reportedly considering launching a branded subscription streaming service to supplant declining pay-TV viewership. The service, which would cost $10-$20 monthly, could start by the 2023 season.
MLB currently operates MLB.tv, a SVOD service affording subscribers access to out-of-market games. The new service would co-exist while sharing revenue with pay-TV operators, according to The New York Post, which first reported the news.
“We believe those digital rights are crucial,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told the recent CAA World Congress of Sports conference. “And we want to own and control the platform on which they’re delivered, we may have partners in that process.”
A possible challenge to any launch is the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns regional TV rights to 14 MLB teams, including streaming agreements with Amazon for the New York Yankees and, separately, the Chicago Cubs.
Sinclair acquired the former Fox Sports regional rights (which include 16 NBA teams, and 12 NHL teams) from Disney for $9.6 billion. Since then, viewership has declined with Dish, Hulu and YouTube TV dropping coverage. The media report suggests Sinclair would be open to working with the MLB’s streaming service in exchange for the league lowering its annual carriage fees.