4.5 / 5  Review Rating

We’ve always said that replacing sports is the toughest thing to do as a cord cutter. But replacing sports is a little easier if you’re a big fan of one sport in particular, because North America’s four major sports leagues each have their own streaming services (though the NFL has tied theirs to DirecTV, so we’re less thrilled with them).

 

MLB.TV is widely considered the best of these league packages. The company behind it, MLB Advanced Media, also powers the streaming services of major players like HBO (HBO switched after the notorious Game of Thrones incident). We decided to take a look at MLB.TV and see what all the hype is about. Here's what we thought.

Device Support

MLB.TV has a pretty comprehensive device support setup. They've been around long enough to have decent apps for older gaming systems like PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (we conducted a lot of our viewing on Xbox 360 and found the app very intuitive and reliable). Chromecast is integrated, too, and there are apps for both Android and iOS (the mobile streams are provided through MLB At Bat, which also offers scores, audio, and a “Gameday” view that overlays pitch locations and stats on a virtual field).

The MLB At Bat app for iOS
The MLB At Bat app for iOS

Your laptop is an option as well, though MLB.TV's splash page remains marketing-focused even when you're signed in. You'll have to click on “CURRENT SUBSCRIBERS” in the top-right to reach the menu of games. Stop trying to sell us something we already bought, MLB.TV! That small annoyance aside, we were quite impressed with all of the different interfaces.

Streaming Quality

MLB.tv as viewed on our laptop
MLB.TV as viewed on our laptop

We were pretty impressed by the quality of MLB.TV's streams. We used the same internet connection that left us less than thrilled with USTVNow's quality, but we had very few issues at all with MLB.TV. MLB.TV's streams sometimes fluctuated in video quality, but they rarely got choppy or skipped at all. Unsurprisingly, streaming was better on devices connected by Ethernet cable (like the Xbox we used) and a little weaker on wifi devices (like our laptops). Mobile streaming was quite good wherever we had service (we used a Verizon network in our review).

Content

MLB.TV includes every regular season game, with two exceptions:

  • You won't get nationally broadcast games, like ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, the playoffs, etc.
  • You won't get broadcasts that are on cable in your local area, meaning that whatever team owns your local market will be blacked out all season long

The blackouts are the infuriating thing about MLB.TV. It's expected – every league streaming service does this – but it's still awful.

Moving on to the good part: we're baseball fans, but we found ourselves watching even more games than usual when we tried out this app. It's wonderful to have so much selection, and the bonus content and little perks made things even better.

For instance, one of our favorite things about MLB.TV was the ability to put the radio audio over the video stream. It's a really cool touch, and it shows that MLB Advanced Audio really understands baseball fans. Listening to the radio while watching the TV broadcast is a classic baseball fan move, but it's pretty much impossible to do now that TV networks operate on a delay. MLB.TV makes it possible again. We should note that, rarely, we ran into streams that wouldn't allow us to use this feature. We're not sure why that was, and it was a bit disappointing.

The service also lets you go back and watch any game from the season, plus highlights and condensed games. You can find similar content for free online, so it's not a real selling point, but it's nice to have it all in one place if you're a die-hard fan.

MLB.TV lets you watch games from prior seasons, too, but their support for that is pretty limited. The full season archive only goes back to 2013. It would have been nice to see classic games. We know MLB has them all – they're all on Youtube for free right now. It seems like MLB could afford to toss in a back catalogue of classic games for a service that costs this much, especially if they're dishing them out for free on another site.

The included MLB audio subscription was a real bonus, especially because the audio feeds have no blackouts. Fans of local teams should note that you don't have to get a full MLB.TV subscription to get the audio feeds.

The Price

MLB.TV Premium was $139.99 this year. That's a pretty good value for a league that has 30 teams playing 162 games a year. The NHL is a less popular league with about half as many games, and they charged fans $159.99 last year for GameCenter Live. NBA League Pass is an absurd $199.99.

MLB.TV isn't cheap by any means, but it's a better value than most sports streaming packages.

The Verdict

Believe the hype. MLB.TV offers very smooth streaming, great device integration, and some really great perks. If you're a baseball fan and live outside the TV market of your favorite team, MLB.TV is a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, we can't recommend it for fans of local teams. For now, the best option for local fans is Gameday Audio.

For other tips on how to catch baseball as a cord cutter, check out our complete how-to guide.

18 thoughts on “MLB.TV Review

  1. Bill says:

    I tried MLB.TV and it was bad. You get no local teams, not even the away games. If you live in a state that doesn’t have an MLB team you will probably be blacked out for numerous teams around you. I have spent over 10 hours on the phone with customer service and technical people from MLB.TV and they are all useless. The big problem is they don’t all say the same stuff. No one appears to know what is really happening or what you are paying for. If you talk to one person they tell you one thing. They the next time you call another person tells you the opposite. 10 days into the season when I realized it was a waste of time I told them to cancel it and they offered $25.00 credit off a $109.00 charge. Unless you live on one coast and your favorite team is on the other coast this is a rip-off.

  2. Reid says:

    What exactly is the point of this service if you can’t watch your local teams?

  3. AK says:

    If you’re a Samsung Smart TV user (2015/2016 versions), don’t bother subscribing. MLB.tv refuses to fix the issues they’ve had with their service since before opening day. Constant buffering and blank screen issues, and if you address the issues on their forums, the moderators lie about it being fixed “soon” then block you. A quick read through the forums will show countless people having issues regardless of the device they are using. Until MLB.tv atteps to provide a stable service, avoid this product at all costs.

  4. Hebekiah says:

    A big help for a cord cutters’ guide would be which devices stream the MLB app with which features. By this I mean that our old WDTV Live has a wonderful set of options when you pick a game: jump to inning, a FF button to instantly jump past the commercial time out screen (2 minutes) and begin when the next inning starts, a wonderful option during live games is “start from beginning”. Newer Android boxes, phones, tablets and Kodi don’t have those features; if game is live then only option is to join in progress, can’t start from beginning; no convenient jump to inning or FF to next inning available.

    I hear the Roku can do all the features and the Nvidia Shield can do some.

    What information you gave above is just cut and paste-y feel.

    Also, my experience with VPN to avoid blackouts is that it’s much better to use VPN software on device rather than enable VPN on router. Much better video quality but not every box (not the WDTV) lets you do that. Proxy settings and DNS changes can also be used but an app on the device works best.

  5. Bob says:

    MLB TV SUCKS, streaming stops, lots of error notices, games are blacked out when you live in NV and the game is in California. I will never buy it again. Use to be ale to listen to the game on my iPhone, now it’s no longer available. What a piece of c**p.

  6. Ron Rodgers says:

    Interesting looking at this website, the site has all these glowing reports when they are suppose to be impartial. The people who actually pay for and have used this service appear to be speaking from the heart without axes to grind. I believe the customers. I have not had black out issues (living in Canada). They take the money and leave us alone.

    I signed last year with my credit card and they renewed me without my permission. It was several games into the preseason that I realized my card was charged. This season buffeting has been terrible. If things don’t improve soon, this will be my last year!!!

  7. Doug says:

    This is the worst streaming app I’ve ever used. Buffering kicks you out of the program over 50% of the time. My Roku app is much better, at least you can jump to an inning. The app on my smart TV is different. You have to fast forward time wise to where you need to go. Often, it will not let you fast forward or it will have buffer problems and kick you out. The sound also goes. If it wasn’t for content I would never use this app. It is the absolute worst. None of the other apps kick me out ever, and this one routinely does it. Then with the terms of agreement you may not get all the games. I have two teams in “area”. One is a divisional opponent and 700 miles away. So there are 15 games I can’t get. Unless they choose to show them over the team closer to me. If you’re a big baseball fan, you may have no choice. Just know that MLB is sticking it to you. It is very aggravating to use this leisure activity.

  8. Thomas Myslik says:

    I knew my local team would be blocked but the playoffs and WS? Give me a break.

    A bit like having foreplay and no orgasm. My balls are blue.

  9. GW says:

    Except you can’t use it to watch the playoffs or the World Series without a pay provider from a very limited list. MLB should be embarrassed.

  10. Dave Pilon says:

    I live in CT. 90 % of games I try to watch are blacked out. No Yankees or Red Socks. Not even Baltimore or Cleveland. No World Series. Total joke.

  11. Rick Wagner says:

    What a waste of money AGAIN! Stop and start, watch the same guy run to first base twice, the pitcher pitch the same pitch twice, find out the inning is over after watching a one out hit. Dead time, same thing as last year. MLB refused to help fix the issue, 1/3 of the games missed or not worth watching. MLB answer give you a discount on their products. Better feeds on the free networks. Netflix, YouTube, and countless other do not have these problems. DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY!

  12. Craig says:

    Well, I guess I just paid $112 for radio! I have been a long time subscriber of MLB radio and this year I decided to upgrade to TV. I am a Giants fan and realized that many of the games would be blacked out but I didn’t realize that ALL the games would be blacked out including the away games and even games played outside the west coast. I live in Hawaii so I don’t even understand why I am considered west coast at all! Someone please explain that to me. Anyhow, when I requested a refund only one week into the season, I was denied, not even a partial refund or a prorated refund, but completely denied. I guess MLB only cares about the bottom line. I am now a baseball fan left with a bitter taste in my mouth, and that is the taste of corporate greed. I guess I will try to enjoy the rest of the season…

  13. LouL says:

    Unfortunately, MLB.TV 2017 is worse than 2016, which was worse than 2015. But they suckered me into getting it again with all of their advertised improvements. Net result – unwatchable on any device. And customer support are a bunch of robots following scripts. They have no solutions. I would strongly suggest resisting the urge. This is a bad service that sells based on the content, not the delivery.

  14. Tim Crain says:

    Wanting to cut the cord, I’ve been looking at all the possibilities to simply get my favorite sport. I really wanted this to work on my Fire Stick, I was really anxious for this to be a great option, but with all negative reviews – I will NOT be a subscriber. Too bad MLB, you lost a customer before I actually became one.

  15. Peter says:

    Half of the games so far I’ve wanted to watch have been blacked out. MLB.TV is horrible. Do not purchase. Doesn’t matter who my team plays, good chance game will be blacked out. Wish I never purchased.

  16. Tego says:

    I have yet to watch a team I wanted to see that hasn’t been blacked out. When I wait the 90 minutes after the game is over and try to watch it the quality is so poor (lag, stutter, then speeds up like in fast forward 20 seconds or so… Horrible! You can’t even enjoy watching the game after it is over. Don’t waste your money like I did. If you feel you must waste your money at least try the monthly subscription so you won’t be out $115 bucks like me.

  17. Jim Gabelhausen says:

    In 2017 we were able to get games without issue. This year the constant buffering and loss of stream makes it impossible. We have purchased new equipment, including a Fire Stick, and still have the same issue. Customer support is a broken record. Clear cache, uninstall and reinstall, unplug and wait. I would like to get my money back, as their fraudulent clamps of being able to watch a game have not been kept. It’s not much money to me, but the frustration level is off the scale.

  18. Shasta Jones says:

    The team I follow is two time zones away from where I live so I don’t have a problem with that. I get a lot of freezing and buffering and have to restart my computer. I paid $26 because it’s near the end of the season. I’m disappointed that there are not games from previous seasons archived. Also they need to pull out the commercials in the archived.

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