The 2018 Major League Baseball season is in full swing. Regardless of which team you’re rooting for, you can watch as many games as possible—if you have access to the right TV services. We’ve got you covered. Not only can you watch every MLB game this season, you can also do so without cable, and in some cases completely for free.
Below, you’ll discover:
- Which broadcasters have streaming rights for MLB games in 2018
- Which online streaming services provide access to games
- Where to find the complete 2018 MLB schedule
Where to Watch Baseball in 2018 – Major Broadcasters
Baseball broadcasting rights are fairly complex. There are major cable broadcasters that cover a lot of games. Many local networks carry games, depending on your location. Additionally, no one network will carry every game.
Different TV networks have rights to broadcast a certain number of games during the season, so you’ll need access to multiple networks if you want to catch as many games as possible. Those rights are also split based on day of the week, so you’ll need to keep a good handle on the date if you want to know exactly where to watch.
|Saturday||Fox (afternoon, night)
Fox Sports 1 (afternoon)
Note that for the first half of the season, most of these networks cover out-of-market games. However, starting May and running until the end of the regular season, network coverage primarily focuses on in-market games. From there, the MLB imposes its rather strict blackout policies.
Additionally, some networks will carry a smattering of games that aren’t listed above. For example, Fox Sports Network (different from FS1) carries some games throughout the season, Facebook will broadcast 25 games live for free this year, and you can watch out-of-market regular season games using the MLB.tv streaming service.
Your best options for watching without cable will be over-the-top streaming services that carry as many of the networks as possible.
Top 7 Options to Watch Baseball Without Cable
Below, we’ve ranked the best options based on how networks or games they carry for the season. The more networks available through that service, the more games you’ll get to watch. There are 7 key networks that offer out-of-market and some in-market MLB games this year, excluding the exclusive games offered through Facebook.
Note that for all services, the MLB’s blackout policy still applies to in-market games. As well, while FOX and Fox Sports Network are available through some of these services, they may not be available to every subscriber. You’ll need to inquire with customer support for the service in question in order to determine whether the local options will be available in your area.
fuboTV is the most sports-centric over-the-top streaming service around, with notable coverage for MLB games this year. YAmong its 70+ channels, fuboTV offers two networks that carry MLB games in 2018: Fox Sports 1, and FOX. Additionally, fuboTV has regionally-specific sports channels that provide access to various games, such as the Yankee’s Yes Network.
As with the other options on our list, whether you have access to your local affiliates through fuboTV is dependent on if the company has the streaming rights in place, so you’ll need to check with the service first to make sure.
fuboTV offers a 7-day free trial for sports fans. It also has a handful of entertainment channels in the mix. As fuboTV states it covers 70% of MLB games this season, fubo is a good option for those who want wide coverage, and who are also looking forward to US and international soccer, NFL games, and basketball games.
Free Roku Deal
Free Roku Express
1 simultaneous stream.
Free Roku Deal$25.00/ month
Free Roku Express
3 simultaneous streams
|Sling Orange + Blue|
Free Roku Deal
Free Roku Express
4* simultaneous streams
Sling TV is a good alternative to YouTube TV, especially if YouTube TV is still unavailable where you live. Sling TV has almost all of the major networks that broadcast baseball games this year. The only option you’ll find missing through this over-the-top streaming service is the MLB Network.
However, if you’re looking to get into Sling TV and want to get all available options the service offers for baseball, you’ll want to consider getting the $40 per month Sling Orange + Blue subscription. That will get you 50+ channels (similar to YouTube TV), including ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, FOX, FS1 and Fox Sports Network.
If you only go for $20 Sling Orange, you’ll get ESPN and ESPN2. And if you only go for $25 Sling Blue, you’ll get TBS, FOX, FS1 and Fox Sports Network. The combo package is your best choice for maximum baseball coverage through Sling TV.
Sling TV offers a 7-day trial period before you commit to the service. As far as additional features, Sling TV is one of the only services on our list that integrates directly with digital antennas offering local TV networks. Sling offers a discount on an AirTV Player that lets you connect to a digital antenna to pick up local broadcasts as well as you Sling TV channel options, and includes a helpful channel guide for all of your available TV channels.
DIRECTV NOW will provide you with most of the available channels that are broadcasting baseball games this year. The only option missing from DIRECTV NOW is FS1. That said, DIRECTV NOW is a bit more complex as it offers multiple service packages. Which channels you can access depends on which tier you purchase.
If you purchase the lowest-cost, “Live A Little” package at $35/month, you’ll get ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, and FOX. In order to get the MLB Network as well, you’ll need to upgrade to the $50 per month “Just Right” subscription plan.
DIRECTV NOW is certainly one of the more expensive options available. However, it also loads up on the channels. The “Live A Little” service plan comes with over 60 channels, while the “Just Right” option has over 80 channels. So if you’re looking for something extra beyond just sports, DIRECTV NOW might be the best choice for you.
You can try the service for free for 7 days.
A surprising entry this year for baseball, YouTube TV emerges as a great option on our list. Although the service is only a year old as of this time of writing, Google’s YouTube service has worked hard to establish itself as the go-to service for sports and entertainment fans alike. Through YouTube TV, you’ll have access to all 7 major networks that carry baseball this year:
- Fox Sports Network
- MLB Network
There are other key benefits to using YouTube TV. YouTube TV lets you share your account with 5 other people. And each individual sharing the account gets unlimited and personalized cloud DVR. That means you can record any game you miss, while your friends and family can record the games they want to watch as well, without crossing over.
Since YouTube TV is only $40 per month, it’s an extremely low-cost option for those who want access to as many MLB games as possible this year.
The biggest downside to YouTube TV is that it’s still not available in every market in the U.S. You’ll need to input your zip code before signing up, and YouTube will let you know whether it’s available to you. Additionally, not every network and channel listed will be available in every market, so you’ll need to verify you have access to the channels you want before signing up. Thankfully, you’ll get a 7-day free trial before you need to commit to paying for a full month.
Distinct from the MLB Network channel, MLB.tv is a streaming service offering up regular season MLB games for paying subscribers. There are two service options available through MLB.tv: All Teams or Single Teams.
With the All Teams subscription, you’ll get access to:
- Every out-of-market regular season game live or on-demand, and in HD
- Access to the At Bat Premium app
- Option to watch home or away games
- New high-definition Media Player for the web
- Access to the Follow Your Team feature (click here to read about on this new add-on service)
The All Teams subscription package is offered for either $24.99 per month, or $115.99 per year.
If you sign up for Single Team, you’ll be able to access one team’s out-of-market games live or on demand. The only differences beyond that from the All Teams option is that you won’t have access to the Follow Your Team feature, or the At Bat Premium app.
Single Team is only offered as a yearly subscription package at $89.99 per month for the single team that you choose.
For both options, blackout restrictions apply for in-market games. MLB.tv has more details on how the blackout restrictions work for their service.
Still considered a “beta” streaming service, Hulu with Live TV is a growing option, especially for baseball fans. Through this over-the-top streaming service, you’ll be able to access three key networks broadcasting baseball games this year:
- ESPN 2
Access to ESPN, ESPN2, and FS1 will get you a large majority of games throughout the year. However, the lack of TBS, FOX, and Fox Sports Network will definitely limit your available streaming options, so you may miss a few games if you go this route. That said, if you combine Hulu with Live TV with the free exclusive matches coming through Facebook this year, you could be well served.
Don’t count out Hulu with Live TV as a potential option, however. The service offers all of its 50+ channels for $39.99 per month (or $38.99 if you forgo the 7-day free trial). You’ll also get cloud DVR and access to the entire Hulu library of on-demand content.
In a first for Major League Baseball, the social network Facebook will have exclusive rights to a number of games this year. Last year, Facebook broadcast 20 non-exclusive games on the official MLB page. This year, however, the social network will have 25 exclusive games. That means you will only be able to watch those 25 games on Facebook.
If you don’t have a Facebook account, now’s a good time to get one. Facebook’s streaming rights begin April 4, when the social network will be broadcasting a Phillies vs Mets matchup. There is currently no schedule posted, so you’ll need to check the official MLB page on Facebook regularly to determine when you can watch the matches and what games are exclusively broadcasting on the platform.
Best Baseball Streaming Option in Canada: Sportsnet
Canada’s Toronto Blue Jays are the only non-US team that competes. Canadian baseball fans who want to watch without cable should consider getting a Sportsnet NOW subscription. You’ll get access to all Blue Jays games, as well as HD quality, split-screen viewing, and on-demand options in case you happen to miss a game.
Read more on the Sportsnet NOW sign-up page.
International Baseball Options
Most baseball viewing options exist in the U.S. through different streaming services and cable networks. However, if you’re outside of the U.S. and want to watch baseball, the MLB provides a detailed list of which networks offer some streams.
Read here to learn more about international baseball viewing options.
MLB Blackout Policy, Briefly
As stated, most of the above options to watch baseball online will give you access to games that are out-of-market. Through its rather complex broadcasting rights, the MLB gives local broadcasters the right to determine which games are only broadcast in-market, or to those within a specific team’s region. For example, if you live in Florida, you may want watch every game from the New York Mets, but the local TV network that has rights to the show may decide to disallow everyone outside of New York from watching. This is called a “blackout”. Even if you’re paying for multiple TV networks that give access to baseball games if the local broadcaster wants to blackout that game, it will be blacked out.
Some cable TV networks carry multiple local broadcasting rights. Fox Sports Network has rights in several cities, which may not overlap with the local broadcast rights for TBS, ESPN, etc. For consumers, this can create a major headache when it comes to trying to catch different games. And unfortunately, the MLB strictly enforces these blackout rules.
For full blackout restrictions, read here
For an abbreviated blackout schedule, check here.