Q. I am very excited for a new season for my world champion Washington Nationals and I want to watch the games on streaming on Hulu or YouTube TV. If not that, maybe they have a separate service on an app that I can order? What are my options for watching MASN without getting a cable or satellite subscription? — Tommy, Hyattsville, Maryland.
Tommy, right now, your options are few and far between, unless you are versed with using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). (More about that later.)
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 traditional pay TV service such as Comcast’s Xfinity, Cox, Verizon, Dish or DIRECTV.
The exception is Tvision (formerly known as Layer3), which is delivered over a Internet-based set-top and costs $90 a month, not including the set-top rental fee. (Note: Tvision is not available in all zip codes in the Baltimore/Washington area. You can check on the availability in your zip code here.)
Comcast last year offered MASN in something called Instant TV, a live streaming service from the cable operator that only required a Comcast Internet subscription; you could watch the Nats and O’s games on a Comcast Xfinity app so long as you were in your WiFi network. Yes, no cable box was required.
However, according to the cable op’s web site, MASN is no longer listed as an available channel on Instant TV. (In fact, no regional sports channels are listed as available in Instant TV.)
So, there is no app for MASN. No live streaming service such as YouTube TV, Hulu Live or Sling TV. And there isn’t even an option to stream MASN outside of your home if you do subscribe to a cable or satellite service that carries MASN.
Why is this, you ask? Nearly every other MLB team is available via streaming in some form or another.
MASN’s owners, the Peter Angelos family, which also owns the Orioles, has steadfastly refused to sell the channel to the live streaming services, or make it available online outside the home if you subscribe to a participating cable or satellite service.
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.
The battle, which has bounced from court to court, from arbitration panel to arbitration panel, appears to be closer to a resolution. But until it is officially, I suspect the Angelos family will hold out on expanding MASN’s availability outside the traditional services because it would generate more revenue, making the legal battle even more complicated. Sigh.
Now, if you want to learn how to watch MASN using a VPN, click here.
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— Phillip Swann