Q. I am a Dish subscriber and I have become very upset that Fox Sports Southwest is no longer in my lineup. I miss watching my Texas Rangers! Is there any other way to keep watching the Rangers while keeping my Dish!? — Teresa, Plano, Texas.
Teresa, on July 26, both Dish and its live streaming service, Sling TV, lost 22 different Fox Sports regional channels (including your Fox Sports Southwest) due to a disagreement over how much they should pay Fox to carry them. The blackout has sports fans irate because the Fox Sports regionals have the exclusive rights to carry the local broadcasts of dozens of professional teams. (You can see the list of affected channels here.)
It’s uncertain how long this particular dispute may last, but it’s not uncommon for a carriage fight to go on for months before it’s resolved. So, what can you do if your Fox Sports regional channel does not return to Dish or Sling TV in the near future? Is there another way to watch your local team?
Well, the easiest way is to drop Dish or Sling and sign up for another pay TV provider that carries your local Fox Sports regional channel. Fox Sports, in fact, is urging Dish and Sling customers to get another TV service.
But what if you don’t want to change providers? Many Dish and Sling subscribers enjoy their service and would prefer to stay with them.
In that case, there’s another alternative. MLB.TV and a VPN.
MLB.TV is Major League Baseball’s online streaming service. For $24.99 a month, you can watch every out-of-market regular season game on more than 400 different Smart TV devices, such as a Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, laptop or smart phone. (You can learn more about MLB.TV here.)
Note that I said, out-of-market, which means your local team (in your case, the Rangers) would be blacked out. Unless, that is, you also get a VPN.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, a software that you can download that will enable you to insert an IP address different from your own into your Smart TV device’s settings. For instance, Teresa, you live in Plano, Texas, but a VPN would allow you to insert an IP address into your Smart TV, laptop or mobile device that would make it look like you live in Denmark!
With the VPN, MLB.TV would not black out your local team’s games because the IP address would not indicate you live in Texas. (Note: The cost of a VPN varies, but many services sell them for under $10 a month. You can learn more about VPNs here.)
MLB.TV recommends that subscribers do not use a VPN, even saying in its fine print that people caught using one could be subject to a fine. However, the league has never challenged its use in court so it remains an open question.
Teresa, I hope that helps. With MLB.TV and a VPN, you could continue watching the Rangers while keeping your Dish subscription. Happy viewing!
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— Phillip Swann