The first week of the upcoming 2022 MLB regular season was canceled due to the league’s players and owners not being able to reach a deal on a collective bargaining agreement. The MLBPA unanimously agreed to not accept the league’s final proposal, which puts the league’s 162-game regular season in doubt, unless something drastically changes.
With the two sides far apart on a number of economic issues, the league has stated it is willing to lose a month’s worth of games, which has already impacted cord cutters. Subscribers to MLB.TV won’t have to worry about their subscription automatically renewing, due to the MLB receiving pushback from fans.
Cord cutters have plenty of ways to watch MLB games via Hulu with Live, YouTube TV, Sling, DIRECTV STREAM, Vidgo, and fuboTV. If you’re subscribed to a streaming platform just for baseball then you have the flexibility of canceling and re-subscribing whenever a deal is reached.
The lockout may delay the rollout of Sinclair’s long-awaited Bally Sports DTC streaming app. The app is expected to make a ‘soft launch’ during Q2, but without MLB games that could be in jeopardy. Before the lockout, Sinclair Broadcast Group CEO Chris Ripley stated the company had enough streaming rights to launch the DTC app. Since then, Bally Sports has renewed its digital rights agreements with 12 NHL teams and 16 NBA teams to go along with the 5 MLB teams they already had rights for. Plus, Sinclair has been in talks with the Cubs to launch a DTC streaming app, but without an on-field product, nothing is certain.
The lockout will likely delay the future plans for NBC RSNs DTC streaming app, which is currently in the works. There are 5 MLB teams that play on NBC RSNs, but it isn’t clear which teams the broadcaster has streaming rights for at this time.
As the players and the owners meet over the next few weeks to discuss a new collective bargaining agreement, fans will be hoping for a home run that will see America’s National Pastime return to the field. The new deal could see an expanded playoff, which would mean ESPN would air more first-round games, which in turn opens up the possibility of ESPN+ streaming games during the chase for the World Series.
Like the shifts on the diamond, MLB is continuing to explore a digital shift when it comes to streaming, as Apple has been in discussions with the league to stream national games on its Apple TV+ platform. NBC Sports is also interested in securing a weekday national package, which will make Peacock a destination for MLB games.
Even with an uncertain future for the 2022 season, cord cutters certainly have more ways than ever to stream every strike, foul ball, and homerun of Major League Baseball.