Comcast is offering MASN, the TV home of the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles, in its new ‘Instant TV’ streaming service, the TV Answer Man has learned. That means that cord-cutters in the Baltimore-Washington area can legally watch the Nats and O’s without a cable or satellite set-top for the first time.

(However, there are two catches. See below.)

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Instant TV, which Comcast began rolling out last year, is an Internet-based service that offers dozens of channels in a variety of packages. You can watch the channels using an ‘’Xfinity Stream’ app on Roku streaming devices, and smart phones and tablets.

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The basic plan, which costs $18 a month (first month is free), is dominated by local channels such as the affiliates for ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. Instant TV subscribers can supplement the basic package with one or more of three add-on plans, including one for Sports and News, which costs an extra $35 a month.

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The Sports and News plan includes roughly 15 channels including CNN, ESPN, Fox News and the NFL Network. And in the Baltimore/Washington market, Sports and News also includes MASN, MASN 2 and NBC Sports Washington.

An Instant TV subscription with Sports and News will enable Washington/Baltimore residents to watch MASN without paying TV set-top or installation fees. The consumer just has to order the online service and watch it on the app. There are also no cancellation fees.

Before Instant TV, MASN has only been available in the Baltimore/Washington market with a subscription to a pay TV service such as Comcast’s Xfinity, Dish or DIRECTV.  MASN’s owners, the Peter Angelos family, which also owns the Orioles, has refused to sell the channel to live streaming services such as DIRECTV Now and Sling TV.

Not only that, the regional sports channel won’t even let its cable and satellite TV subscribers stream the Nats and O’s games while away from home.

Only three MLB teams are refusing to offer in-market streaming for pay TV subscribers — the Nats, O’s and Dodgers — and only seven are refusing to offer their games to live streaming services — Nats, O’s, Dodgers, Mariners, Pirates, Rockies and the Astros.

While Instant TV will enable cord-cutters in the Baltimore/Washington area to legally stream the Nats and Orioles games for the first time, there are two catches.

One, you must have Xfinity Internet service.
You don’t have to have Xfinity TV service, or an Xfinity cable set-top, but you do need a subscription to its Internet service.

Two, you can only stream MASN at home via your Internet home network. 
That means you can’t watch the Nats and Orioles on the go. If you try to watch MASN on Instant TV away from your Xfinity home network, you will get a message saying the channel isn’t available.

The two caveats will likely reduce the appeal of Instant TV for some, particularly those who don’t have Comcast available in their area. But the ability to watch MASN for $53 a month ($18 for basic plan: $35 for News and Sports add-on plan) without paying additional fees such as the monthly set-top rental could be what many baseball fans have been looking for.

Last note: The regional sports channel and broadcast fees are included in the $53 monthly total. There are no other fees besides Internet service. And, once again, the first month of the $18 basic plan is free.

— Phillip Swann