Q. I really, really want to watch the Washington Nationals this season on MASN without a cable or satellite subscription. Is MASN closer to letting the streaming services offer it? Is there anything new with this ridiculous situation? — Evan, Bowie, Maryland.
Evan, as you know, MASN, the regional sports channel that carries both the Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles, has largely only been available in the Baltimore/Washington market with a subscription to a pay TV service such as Comcast’s Xfinity, Cox, Verizon, Dish or DIRECTV.
The two exceptions:
* Layer3, which is delivered over a Internet-based set-top and costs $80 a month, not including the set-top rental fee.
* And Comcast’s Instant TV, a live streaming service from the cable operator which costs more than $50 a month (for the package that has MASN) and requires a Comcast Internet plan.
That’s not particularly helpful for anyone looking to cut the cord, and cut their monthly bills.
MASN’s owners, the Peter Angelos family, which also owns the Orioles, has steadfastly refused to sell the channel to live streaming services such as DIRECTV Now and Sling TV, which are less expensive and do not require equipment fees. MASN has also balked at suggestions that it sell the channel directly to consumers for a monthly fee, as HBO, Showtime and several other channels now do online.
Since MASN has refused to comment on the reasons behind this stubbornness, we can only offer an educated guess.
MASN has been in a dispute with the Nationals for several years now over how much the DC-based team should get in licensing fees. The Angelos family says the Orioles should get the lion’s share of the channel’s profits because it did not try to block the Montreal Expos from moving to Washington in 2004, and becoming the Nationals. Until then, the Orioles had the entire Washington-Baltimore market to themselves.
However, the Nats, and Major League Baseball, say the D.C. team deserves a larger slice of the pie. The league has even supported this stance in various rulings, but MASN has successfully blocked any change in the fee structure in the courts.
My belief is that MASN won’t approve a new streaming policy until this situation is resolved. The channel probably does not want to add a new revenue source (from the streaming services) that could further complicate the Nats-O’s battle.
So when will this matter be fixed?
There have been various reports during the off-season that a solution is imminent. Of course, we’ve heard that before. But if the two sides can reach a deal, I think that will open the door to streaming for MASN.
— Phillip Swann