Q. I saw your story on streaming the Colorado Rockies. Question for you: How about the Pittsburgh Pirates? Are they available for streaming. I would like to get rid of cable, too!! — Jane, Pittsburgh.
Jane, unless you are a subscriber to DIRECTV, or one of several smaller pay TV services in your area, I have some bad news for you.
AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, which has the local broadcast rights to the Pirates, struck a deal last year with Major League Baseball to allow authenticated pay TV subscribers to access in-market streaming of their games.
The list of pay TV providers that are participating in this program include:
Adams Cable Service, Armstrong, Aurora by HTC, Beaver Valley Cable, CAS Cable, Citizens Fiber, Consolidated Communications, DIRECTV, LHTC Broadband, MetroCast, QCOL, Service Electric Cable TV, Service Electric Cablevision, Suddenlink, Windstream, and Zito Media.
If you’re a subscriber to one of these services in the Pittsburgh market, and have AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh in your programming package, you can stream the Pirates games as well as watch them via your satellite or cable TV set-top.
One major advantage to this is if you are away from home, you can still follow the action on your mobile device or computer.
You may have noticed that Comcast and Dish, the two other major pay TV services in the Pittsburgh area, are not participating in the in-market streaming program. Comcast does allow you to stream the Pirates games via your Xfinity Stream app (if you subscribe to AT&T SportsNet), but only within your home WiFi network, not away from home.
More Bad News
Despite what you read at some ill-informed web sites, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh is not available on any of the live streaming services, such as Sling TV, DIRECTV Now, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV or Hulu Live. AT&T SportsNet has not signed any carriage deals with the live streamers, not even DIRECTV Now, which it owns.
So if you’re looking to drop your cable or satellite service, but still watch the Pirates as a Pittsburgh resident, you’re out of luck.
That is, unless you want to subscribe to MLB.TV, the league’s streaming plan that costs $113 for an entire season, and install a VPN on your Internet service.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, a software that you can download that will enable you to use an IP address different from your own. For instance, if you live in Pittsburgh, you could insert an IP address supplied by the VPN company that would say you live in Denmark.
That would enable you to watch the Pirates games in Pittsburgh using MLB.TV because the VPN would make MLB’s servers think you were in Denmark, not Pittsburgh. The blackout restriction, which normally shuts out Pirates fans in the Pittsburgh market, would disappear.
Using a VPN to skirt the blackout is a test of one’s ethics, but many fans are doing it.
For more on MLB and VPNs, click here.
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— Phillip Swann