Q. I used to have DIRECTV, but I dropped it a few years ago because the prices were out of control. I’ve tried YouTube TV and Sling TV and they are not too bad, but they don’t have the MASN channel which has my Washington Nationals. Is there any chance MASN will offer the channel to a streamer this year. The season is starting pretty soon. — Burke, Arlington, Virginia.
Burke, there’s always a chance, as the saying goes. But not much of one. Let me explain.
MASN, the regional sports channel that carries both the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles, has only been available in the Baltimore/Washington market with a subscription to a traditional cable or satellite 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 $10 a month 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.)
However, despite the explosion of streaming options, there is no streaming app for MASN. No availability on live streaming services 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.
MASN’s owners, the Peter Angelos family, which also owns the Orioles, has steadfastly refused to embrace the streaming revolution although every other MLB-affiliated channel has in one way or another. This has forced Nats and Orioles fans to continue to pay the ever-escalating monthly fees of cable and satellite operators to watch their favorites teams at home. (The live streaming services offer lower monthly rates, although the gap between the two is narrowing.)
Furthering the frustration of cord-cutters, MASN has even refused to comment on the reasons behind this stubbornness. (The channel’s long and contentious legal battle with the Nats over carriage fees could be a factor.)
Last week, I sent an e-mail to Chris Glass, MASN’s vice president, executive producer and director of operations, requesting an update. But as often happens when you ask MASN for a comment on this subject, I didn’t get a response.
So, Burke, with the season starting on Thursday, the odds are very, very slim that MASN will offer a streaming option in 2020.
Final note: You can’t watch the channel’s live broadcasts on MLB.TV unless you live outside the territorial markets of the Nationals and Orioles which extend all the way to North Carolina! Unless, that is, you get a VPN. To learn more about VPNs, and their legal and ethical constraints, click here.
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— Phillip Swann