Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
Baseball is meant to be enjoyed live. If you can’t sit behind home plate, you should at least be able to stream the game as it happens. MLB.TV is the cord-cutter’s gateway to America’s pastime. Yet, with its location-based blackouts, the service falls short of a home run.
However, don’t give up on your dream of watching every game your home team plays. Every single MLB game is at your fingertips; you just need to learn how to change location on MLB.TV from the comfort of your couch.
Baseball streaming service MLB.TV lets fans watch all of their favorite MLB games live, but there are some pretty hefty restrictions. The MLB gives broadcasters exclusive rights to air games in select markets, and those in-market games aren’t available on MLB.TV until about 90 minutes after the game ends. The games you can watch live are limited by these local, regional, and national blackouts.
Your current location for MLB.TV is determined by your internet protocol (IP) address. On mobile devices and some streaming devices, they’ll also take advantage of location services like GPS. This location information is used to decide which games will be blacked out on your stream.
MLB.TV’s location rules are pretty direct, so there shouldn’t be any surprises.
Although those rules are simple, they may be pretty hard to swallow for baseball fans. Nobody wants to wait that long to stream their home team’s games, and you definitely want the ability to stream major national games as they happen.
MLB.TV’s location rules give a huge advantage to people streaming from outside of the U.S. and Canada. The rest of us just want access to those same games; besides, it’s not our fault that we live in areas where they are blacked out.
Using a virtual private network (VPN) is the best way to change your IP address and get around MLB.TV’s location rules. If you already use a VPN to access geo-restricted content on streaming services like Netflix, this process will be essentially the same.
When you use a VPN, MLB.TV will see the VPN server’s IP address instead of yours. If you use a VPN server in Vancouver, they’ll think you are in Vancouver. However, that won’t work on devices that have GPS location services. A VPN alone is fine on your computer, Apple TV, or Roku. On your smartphone, Android TV, or Fire TV, it’s much harder to get around MLB.TV’s location rules.
Every streaming service tries to block VPNs, but some are far better at it than others. In the simplest cases, they just block a list of known VPN IP addresses. MLB.TV, though, seems to have more sophisticated methods. Most VPNs used to work with MLB.TV, but that all changed a few years ago. Around 2018, they got really good at blocking VPN servers. To this day, only a handful of VPNs can get past MLB.TV’s blocks.
When choosing a VPN, you should definitely pick one with several servers. The more servers a VPN has, the better it can bypass attempted blocks. You should also make sure that the VPN has at least one location that you can use outside of your regional broadcast market. In fact, for nationally broadcast games, you’ll need a server that is outside of both the U.S. and Canada.
Before you pick a VPN, make a list of the devices you intend to watch MLB.TV on. There are two ways that you can use a VPN to change your location on those devices. Your first option is to install the VPN on each device individually, assuming that the VPN provider makes apps for each of your device types. Keep in mind, though, that most VPN providers limit the number of devices you can use at once on a single plan. Your second option is to put the VPN on your router. If you go that route, every device on your network will show the VPN IP, so you can change the location of your whole network.
Because MLB.TV uses GPS location to verify your location on any device that has location services, a VPN alone won’t be enough to change your smartphone’s apparent location. Even turning off your location services won’t help since MLB.TV will block your stream until you turn them back on. The only way to use MLB.TV on mobile devices is to spoof your GPS, and that’s a difficult process. The exact details will be different for each device type and operating system.
If you watch MLB.TV in a browser, you should be able to just use a VPN, even on mobile. If you do get an error about your location, you can try changing the GPS location using the browser’s developer tools. There’s a process for doing this on Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and just about any other browser.
With MLB.TV’s apps, the process is harder. iPhone users will need to jailbreak their phones before they can alter their GPS coordinates. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the security concerns of jailbreaking before you do that. On Android, you should be able to just download an app to adjust your GPS location. Those apps are not without risk, though, as they are often a source of security vulnerabilities. If you intend to use a VPN for the purpose of watching MLB.TV on your computer or a device without location services, that’s certainly a safer method.
Baseball fans can get streaming access to all their favorite games with MLB.TV and a good VPN. On a computer or streaming device without location services, that’s all it should take. For mobile phones or location-aware devices like Fire TV, though, getting past MLB.TV’s blackouts can be quite difficult. If they do realize that you are behind a VPN, MLB.TV seems to be pretty lenient, and usually just block the VPN IP. However, their terms of service allow them to take stronger actions if they so choose.
Few VPNs are able to change users’ location on MLB.TV. Only a handful of the best VPNs for streaming services have managed to get past the provider’s VPN blocks. The most reliable choice is ExpressVPN. They have a great record for bypassing MLB.TV’s location-based game blackouts and their high server count makes it unlikely that MLB.TV will be able to fully block them anytime soon.
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