At long last, there will be in-market streaming of Chicago Cubs games in 2017.
Some of the games.
For some of the people.
Today, NBC announced that it has reached a deal with MLB to permit the in-market streaming of games available on Comcast Sports’ regional networks (which includes CSN Chicago). Streaming on various devices will be available to authenticated subscribers, only – which means, if you subscribe to a cable or satellite package that carries CSN Chicago, you’re good to go.
This does not end regional blackouts on MLB.tv or Extra Innings, however – those services will still black out games in the team’s designated region (because the theory there is that, if you’re in the region, you could be subscribing to the cable channel – that protects team and RSN partner revenue (it’s complicated, but read the write-up from earlier this week if you missed it and want to understand this better)).
Whom does this help? Folks who have CSN Chicago, but want to watch the Cubs when they travel for work. Folks who have CSN Chicago, but want to watch on their iPad in another room. Folks who have complicated TV setups that otherwise saw them getting blacked out for whatever reason.
To be quite clear: if you’re a cord-cutter in the Chicago area, this does not help you. To take advantage of in-market streaming, you do have to be a subscriber to CSN Chicago.
This also does not help with in-market streaming of Cubs games on WGN-9 or ABC-7. The Cubs are an odd duck in the broadcast rights world, what with three concurrent TV deals with three different networks divvying up their games. Hopefully MLB can reach some kind of separate agreement with WGN-9 and ABC-7 for the streaming of their games, but my guess is it’s really complicated by the fact that those are over-the-air channels. I wouldn’t get my hopes up on those games.
The Cubs’ three TV deals run through the 2019 season, and they are looking create their own regional sports network thereafter.
CSN’s local streaming allows authenticated viewers in their respective markets to live stream games and related programming that is carried by their pay TV provider of the Chicago Cubs (CSN Chicago), Chicago White Sox (CSN Chicago), Philadelphia Phillies (CSN Philadelphia), Oakland Athletics (CSN California) and San Francisco Giants (CSN Bay Area). Game broadcast schedules will be announced at a later date.
“This is a home run for our local sports fans,” said David Preschlack, President, NBC Sports Regional Networks, and NBC Sports Group Platform and Content Strategy. “We are constantly looking for ways to better serve our fans and provide comprehensive coverage of their favorite teams. With the addition of MLB in-market streaming rights, they don’t have to miss a pitch.”
Authenticated CSN subscribers can access live MLB, NBA and NHL games, as well as other sports programming, anywhere in the United States. During the 2017 MLB season, all in-market MLB games will be streamed on the respective local CSN regional network site on PCs as well as on the NBC Sports app—NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets and connected TVs. The NBC Sports app is available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.