News and Analysis
The Washington Nationals will begin their 2018 season today, but unless you’re a subscriber to a cable or satellite service — or prepared to violate the rules of Major League Baseball — you won’t be able to watch their games on television.
The same goes for the Baltimore Orioles, which like the Nats, are carried by MASN, the regional sports channel which is largely owned (90% control) by Peter Angelos, the cantankerous owner of the O’s.
Unlike most RSNs, MASN has refused to permit new, less expensive live streaming services such as DIRECTV Now and Sling TV to carry it. (Note: MASN is available on Layer3, a new service that uses Internet-based technology to send programming signals to a company set-top. But considering Layer3’s subscription costs rival cable, and you need a set-top, it’s not exactly the typical cord-cutter’s definition of streaming.)
Not only that, MASN won’t even allow its cable and satellite subscribers to stream the games in-market, a feature (again) now available via most regional sports channels.
MASN (and Angelos, and apparently, his son, John, who’s the Orioles’ team president) believes that fans should only watch games in front of the old living room TV, adjacent a coffee table with a copy of an overpriced cable or satellite bill on top.
Team Angelos is so adamant about this that MASN this year decided not to air its usual small sample of games on local DC and Baltimore broadcast channels, which means cord-cutters can’t even watch some contests with an antenna.
This breaks a 64-year tradition of Oriole games being available on a local channel.
For cord-cutters, the only consolation is that MASN’s stance has become the exception, not the rule in Major League Baseball. The only other team that doesn’t offer any streaming at all is the Los Angeles Dodgers, which is a sad story for another day. But at least SportsNet LA, which has the rights to the Dodgers games, will show some games on local LA television.
Perhaps most infuriating about what MASN is doing is that the channel will not comment on why it’s doing it.
Major League Baseball, which has been trying to mediate a TV dispute between the Orioles and Nationals for several years, has little interest in getting involved in this streaming snafu. One war with the Angelos family is more than enough.
So for fans of the Nationals and Orioles, baseball is indeed back this week. But don’t expect to watch your faves without paying for it. Paying a lot for it, that is.
— Phillip Swann