The MLB streaming mess, YouTube tips for TVs

Photo by Joshua Peacock via Unsplash

Baseball’s year of chaos

In 2024, watching local baseball games without cable will either be cheap and simple or expensive and complicated, and it all comes down to location.

In a few lucky cities, you can spend $100 on a full-season pass and watch nearly every in-market game live–and with no blackouts. In others, you might need to spend $100 per month for local games as part of a bloated pay TV bundle.

This is the mess in which Major League Baseball finds itself as the regional sports network business collapses. Thanks to a series of miscalculations, the league and its partners have once again failed to deliver standalone baseball streaming or affordable bundled options for the majority of MLB teams. Heading into the 2024 season, only 12 out of 30 teams offer local game streams without an expensive bundle attached to it.

I’ve got more analysis of this situation, plus a chart of all the in-market streaming options for each time, in this week’s TechHive column. Read it here →.

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Weekly rewind

Big-screen YouTube tricks: Also on TechHive this week, I’ve got a list of tips for the YouTube app on smart TVs and streaming devices (not to be confused with YouTube TV, which is entirely separate). Did you know, for instance, that you can increase playback speed to get through videos faster, or that you can use YouTube’s mobile app to queue up a series of videos on your TV? See the full list of tips here →.

Hulu in Disney+: Disney has taken the beta tag off its app’s integration with Hulu. If you subscribe to both services, you’ll see Hulu shows inside the Disney+ app along with a dedicated Hulu hub atop the main menu. Neither service is going away as a standalone option, but Disney hopes the combined catalogs will reduce cancellation rates, convince more folks to bundle, and lead to better home screen recommendations.

It’s not a full integration, though. As Indiewire notes, a bunch of Hulu’s licensed shows are missing from the Disney+ app, including Modern Family, Murdoch Mysteries, and the first four seasons for Fargo. The Disney+ app also does not tie into Hulu’s live TV service or ESPN+ (which is integrated with the Hulu app). You’ll still need both apps, even if you don’t have to hop between them as often.

Zinwell’s update issues: I have not tried Zinwell’s ATSC 3.0 tuner box, whose claim to fame is that it can play encrypted over-the-air channels without a home internet connection. But Lon Seidman has, and in his latest video and blog post describes an “arduous update process” that’s required to make sure the box can keep receiving encrypted channels.

I’ll just quote Seidman directly: “The complexity and frequent updates required by devices like the Zinwell ATSC 3.0 Box just to maintain compatibility with unnecessary encryption serve as a reminder of the challenges that consumers will face when it comes to tuning free TV in the near future.”

You can read my latest dispatch on the state of ATSC 3.0 channel encryption—and how it affects over-the-air DVR products—here.

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Save more money

If you’re a T-Mobile subscriber and haven’t yet redeemed your free year of MLB.TV, make sure to do so now through the T-Life mobile app. The offer is only available through April 1, after which you’ll be stuck paying $150 for the season like the rest of us.

Once redeemed, MLB.TV will give you live, out-of-market baseball on any device (not just your phone). If your favorite team plays outside the city where you live, it’s fantastic.

Other notable deals:

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