MLB season is upon us, and the cord-cutting trend means more people than ever are looking for ways to watch games outside of their normal cable subscription. There are several ways to catch your favorite team on the diamond this year, and we are here to help you choose the best solution for you.  

MLB.tv

MLB.tv has a lot to offer avid MLB fans with several subscription levels available, the highest tier being a $110 yearly subscription, with an optional $10 Follow Your Team add-on coming in the near future. They also are making it possible to stream all 2,430 regular season games, but unfortunately, these are not available to everyone. As with many streaming options, the devil is in the details, and if you read closely they make it clear you only get access to out-of-market games. Because of the contracts the MLB signs with broadcasting networks, your MLB.tv is subject to many blackouts for local teams. MLB.tv is pretty upfront with these blackouts, just here to search by zipcode and see which teams you will have blacked out in your area. There is also a list of games blacked out nationwide. Check this  to make sure your favorite rivalry game doesn’t fall into this category either. These games are blacked out because they are classified as nationally televised games available to everyone. See a general map of team blackout areas below: MLB_Blackout_Areas.png Image pulled from Wikipedia One of the advantages of MLB.tv is the wide range of devices it is available on. They tout up to 400 devices are compatible, including popular options like Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, and Xbox. And with their new streaming capabilities, HD viewing is available to those with fast enough internet speeds. All-in-all, this means that if you want to catch games for your local team, you are going to need to get a cable subscription (). If you are just an avid MLB fan, or want to make sure you have all of your team’s away games, then MLB.tv may be a good add-on option for you. Would we recommend it as a stand alone streaming option? Probably not right now, but it is a big step forward for streaming in the sporting world. The MLB obviously has an eye towards the future of broadcasting.  

Fox Sports Go

If you already have a TV subscription, then you have a few more options for streaming MLB games. Unfortunately, this is only a benefit for when you are on-the-go, and doesn’t allow you the benefit of cutting your cable subscription. One of these options is Fox Sports Go. If you do a search of MLB games, you will see that Fox is a common network for games to be aired on. This app will get you access to these when you are not able to access your television normally. If you are lucky and have a friend or family member willing to share their cable network login information, then you could tap into the streaming options on Fox without a cable subscription since many providers are still relatively lax on total number of devices signed in under one account. Currently, the app is available on Apple, Android, Amazon Fire, and Microsoft. Roku and some other popular streaming devices like Xbox and PS4 are not supported at this time. espn_baseball.jpg

Watch ESPN

Watch ESPN is another streaming channel that requires a network login. If you have a traditional cable subscription and want to watch games on the go, then Watch ESPN is the app for you. Compared to Fox Sports Go, Watch ESPN has more traditional sporting event coverage, as well as, streaming of your favorite ESPN shows like Sports Center. As with any app that requires a cable subscription login, this is usually best as an add-on service to catch up on MLB games when you aren’t able to be at home. If you have a login to use with Fox Sports Go, you may also be able to use it to access Watch ESPN. Currently, you can download the app on Amazon Fire, Android Devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Windows 8, and Xbox One. Since the app is supported on more devices, it may also be a better option than Fox Sports Go.  

Sling TV

Sling TV might not help you connect with Fox or ESPN since it is not a formal cable subscription, but it will let you cut the cord and get access to networks you need to watch the majority of MLB games. Sling TV currently streams ESPN, ESPN 2, and TBS, all of which show MLB games. You won’t be able to tap into Fox or the specialty MLB channels you could get with cable, but you will only have to pay the $20/ month no-commitment subscription fee. Of all of the streaming solutions we have listed here, Sling TV is your best bet for a standalone solution if you want to stay away from a full cable subscription. MLB.tv is your streaming go-to if you don’t live in the market of your favorite team, and Fox Sports Go and Watch ESPN are perfect add-ons to make sure you catch all of this season’s coverage.   But before you choose a streaming service, make sure your internet connection can handle the influx of data. Start your search now to see what options you have available in your area:   [zipfinder] There’s nothing quite as thrilling as watching the winning shot of a live game or experiencing groundbreaking news as it’s happening. And if you’re already paying an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for an Internet connection, you may be able to stream some of those thrilling live TV moments to any Wi-Fi enabled device. If you want to watch live TV online, you’ve actually got a few options. However, the method won’t be the same across the board — it depends on the show, the channel, and even your Internet connection. Here’s our roundup of how to stream live TV over the Internet whenever — and wherever — you want. Sports Channel Subscriptions Sports fans can pay for a short-term online subscription to favorite sports league games. The MLB, NBA, and NHL all offer packages for viewers to watch live games online. MLB.tv offers streaming of live games, spring training, and archived games. NBA League Pass offers the most customizable selection, including access to a single team, a single game, or just audio streams. And NHL Game Center features extra camera angles and DVR controls. All three leagues, though, have out-of-market restrictions, meaning local, home team games are blacked out — though most of these services still make live audio streams available. Options for the NFL are among the most limited. The NFL Game Pass includes live game radio broadcasts and playoff games, but live video streams are not available. Online News Broadcasts A recent comScore survey found that live news was important to the TV viewing habits of 58 percent of pay TV subscribers and 46 percent of non-pay TV subscribers, making it one of the biggest drivers of TV consumption. While many major news networks require a cable subscription to access live news programs, several media brands offer live streaming for free. With a good ISP, you can watch MSNBC, Bloomberg, CBS News, NewsMaxTV, and HuffPost Live from your computer or smart device. Check your local stations, too. ABC 7 in San Francisco and Fox 5 in New York, for example, offer their news shows streaming during airtime. Web-Only Channels Streaming sites like Livestream, Ustream, and YouTube have emerged as popular ways to watch live programming for free, be it a concert, sports event, or entertainment program. Selection and quality of content varies widely. Livestream hosts the BBC and TED Talks channels, UStream hosts the International Space Station and PBS NewsHour channels, and YouTube broadcasts notable political events like presidential debates and speeches. Cable Online Services New in 2015, online cable services are changing the cable game. The DISH® subsidiary service Sling TV, for example, combines traditional TV with online streaming, allowing subscribers to start with a basic 20 cable TV channel package, with the option to add more channels for an additional fee. XFINITY® Stream TV offers a similar service, offering local and premium channels to XFINITY Internet subscribers in select areas. Unlike traditional cable, these services require no equipment. Though your options are limited — the initial channel selection is small — these are affordable streaming options. Sling TV starts at a low price of $20 per month, while XFINITY Stream TV starts at $15 per month for XFINITY Internet subscribers. TV Aggregator Sites Although no TV aggregator site is perfect, many of them are great for watching a variety of shows and movies from around the globe. While quality is low, content variety is high. Try watching live shows through sites like Live TV Cafe, Live TV Center, and World Wide Internet TV, which are free with the creation of an account. On Demand Subscription Watch streaming media of popular television shows through on-demand subscription providers Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or HBO Go. Most of these services have their own set of critically acclaimed series only available through a subscription: Netflix features the popular shows “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards”; Amazon Prime hosts “Transparent” and “Alpha House”; HBO Go is known for “Game of Thrones” and “Girls.” Hulu hosts the most prime time content of any of the on-demand services, though network shows are usually available a day after the initial air date. Internet and TV Bundles If you haven’t been able to find your show through any of the other options on this list, consider paying for a bundled cable package. Many ISPs also sell cable television service in bundles, and depending on your Internet and TV bundle provider, many of the same movies and TV channels included in your cable subscription are available for streaming on supported smart devices, too. Using your cable TV login, you can stream your favorite TV shows on your laptop, tablet, or phone. Which channels are available to you online depends on your cable provider and package selection. How-To Geek gives a breakdown of the streaming channels available for each major cable provider. In 2016, you’re no longer stuck to your couch to watch your favorite TV shows. The Internet gives you the flexibility to stream TV shows and movies from anywhere. Now that you’ve got our guide to viewing TV online, the only thing you need is a good Internet connection. For the best streaming experience, consider upgrading your current Internet package, or bundle cable television with your Internet subscription. *Pricing and speeds are current as of writing. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas. In December, we reported that Sony would soon offer a 75-channel streaming TV service called PlayStation Vue. Now Sony released new details about Vue containing both good and not-so-good news. The good news is that Vue will offer more channels than previously announced. The not-so-good news is that the price is considerably more than the already-available SLING TV and even many cable and satellite plans. Now that we have the full picture, how does Vue fit in to the current state of cord cutting? A Better Vue? Sony will offer three different Vue streaming plans. The basic Access plan provides 55 channels for $49.99 per month. The mid-level Core package adds seven additional channels, including IFC, the Sundance Channel, and TCM, for $59.99 per month. The top-level plan, named Elite, increases the channel count to 88 for a price of $69.99 per month. Vue might not be right for hardcore sports fans. The ABC family of channels isn’t available on Vue, and meaning that none of the ESPN channels or Disney channels is present. For many potential subscribers, those absences could be immediate deal-breakers. Cost is a likely culprit: ESPN is the most expensive basic cable channel for providers. But Vue could be the right choice for many others, like gamers who already own PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles and fast Internet connections to support their gaming hobby. This younger demographic is valuable to advertisers, which could help Sony lure even more channels to Vue, and maybe even lower per-channel costs in the process. How do Other Streaming Services Stack Up? Compared to Vue’s three tiers of programming, SLING TV starts with a small 21-channel package for $20 and offers five different upgrade packages featuring sports, movies, lifestyle, news, and children’s’ channels. Add every package and you’ll end up with 53 channels for $45 per month, making the full SLING TV service comparable to Vue’s Access plan. But even the basic SLING package includes two ESPN channels, making it the likely choice for sports-loving cord-cutters. SLING’s modular approach also makes sense for people who only want certain kinds of programming. They can add movies without adding kids’ programming, or vice versa. It’s closer to the a la carte model that many consumers seem to want, but it’s still not quite there. However, if you’re after the most channels and are willing to pay more for them, Vue is the clear winner. For the time being at least, no other streaming service offers more of the channels currently available on cable or satellite. Rumors suggest that Apple will launch its own streaming service in the summer or fall, and that it will probably offer 25 channels for $30-40. However, there aren’t any details yet, so it’s hard to make a solid comparison. With that said, it’s probably not going to be the best choice unless you enjoy Apple devices like the iPad, iPhone, or Apple TV. Vue’s Edge on Cable If it isn’t any cheaper than cable, how will Vue attract subscribers? One common source of frustration among cord cutters is the fact that many cable and satellite TV plans require long-term contracts and early termination fees to opt out. Vue doesn’t—nor does SLING TV, for that matter—so even though Vue isn’t any cheaper than many cable plans, some customers might find that convenience and flexibility a deciding factor. Connection Requirements Compared to cable, streaming customers have to pay the extra cost of Internet access to receive TV programming. But let’s be honest: everyone’s already paying for that anyway, so it’s not a big deal. In terms of speeds, Sony recommends 3-5 Mbps for a single streaming connection. Multiple streams, for families watching on more than one device at the same time, should look for a plan offering at least 25 Mbps. SLING TV offers no speed recommendations aside from saying that if Hulu and Netflix work well with your current plan, so will SLING. No matter what streaming service interests you, all cord cutters should think about how well their current Internet plans would support that plan. If you don’t think your current plan is good enough, find a better one now so that when your streaming service of choice is available, you’re ready for it. [zipfinder] Photo Credit: TechTimes Say goodbye to streaming boxes and hello to even smoother services. Chromecast and Roku both offer stick HDMI thumbnail sized devices that plug into the HDMI port on your TV. You just plug in the stick and connect it to your Wi-Fi network. Both products look alike, but perform differently, so it is important to understand how each product functions. Chromecast Functions Chromecast streams video straight from your tablet, smartphone or laptop to your TV through an app on your mobile device. It is different from other airplay devices because you operate it only from your mobile device. When you access the service on your device, you’ll pair your Chromecast app with a services app like Netflix. Simply select the movie/show you want to watch and it will play on your TV screen. Your mobile device acts like a remote, but the interface operates within the app on the device. Positive Features of Chromecast Chromecast retails at $35, and is one of the cheapest options for streaming on the market. Chromecast is good for those who have an extensive media library on their computer because you can easily stream that library to your TV. Negative Features of Chromecast The Chromecast product acts as an accessory to your mobile devices. It has no traditional on-screen TV menu interface or remote control, as you need a mobile device to control it. The selection for channels and sites is not as extensive as the competition. Chromecast-compatible services include Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Netflix, Google Play, Pandora, Crackle, YouTube, Plex, Viki, Vevo, PostTV, RealPlayer Cloud, Rdio, Songza, and PostTV. How Roku Streaming Stick Functions The Roku streaming stick retails at $49.99 and acts as an airplay device similar to Apple TV or Amazon Fire, but for a lower price tag. Roku comes with a remote and a typicalmenu interface. You can add a Roku app to mobile devices similar to Chromecast, and control it from there. There is even a feature that can stream your favorite photos, movies or music from your mobile device to your TV, so you can show off those family vacation pics or listen to music while you make dinner. Positive Features of Roku Streaming Stick Roku is a simple, affordable way to turn any TV into a Smart TV with an easy remote. Roku offers over 1,000 choices in sites including Hulu Plus, HBO Go, M-Go, Amazon Instant Video and Netflix. Negative Features of Roku Streaming Stick If you prefer to watch or listen with headphones, then it should be noted that the Roku streaming stick remote does not have the headphone jack like other Roku products. The Roku costs about $15 more than Chromecast, but that payout gives you more of a viewing selection, so that may be worth it to you. The Future of Streaming Sticks Streaming sticks are still fairly new to the marketplace, but are attractive to consumers because they are affordable and small and don’t take up space in your entertainment center. Roku is your best bet for overall viewing selection and price. Find John on Google+ With Netflix positioned to pass HBO in subscribers this year, is this the beginning of the end for cable? Cable television is a staple in the American household. According to Nielsen, 90 percent of American households pay for TV. Seems like a good sign for cable companies, right? That would be the case if that number wasn’t expected to drop 4.7 percent by the end of 2013. This is up from the previous year, where only 3.74 percent of people decided to stop paying for TV subscriptions. What is causing people to drop their cable companies? Streaming.

A Serious Threat

Music streaming and downloading changed the music industry forever. Just count how many CD’s you’ve purchased in the last year. Did anyone think it would be such a threat to the industry? Fast forward a few years later, and we may be headed the same way with the cable industry. When streaming services, such as Netflix, began popping up, I don’t think many saw it as a threat to cable TV. Many used streaming as a service to supplement their TV subscriptions. But times are slowly changing. Netflix is believed to now have 30 million paying United States customers. The significance? HBO, Time-Warner Cable’s popular premium network, has an estimated 28.7 million subscribers. Netflix basically has the same subscription numbers as a premium television network, except with a much larger content library. Netflix gives subscribers the ability to watch what they want, when they want, something cable TV often struggles to do. Most importantly, Netflix doesn’t require a cable subscription. Along with Netflix, Hulu has seen their subscriber numbers grow. Earlier this year, the company announced that their subscriber numbers had doubled from the previous year, standing at four million paid subscribers. Hulu offers over 70,000 full episodes of TV shows that are shown across various TV channels. This is not even including services such as Amazon.com and iTunes offer. Both allow consumers to purchase television episodes, entire seasons, and movies, individually at any time. With so many sources for TV shows and movies, the case for canceling cable service seems to be getting stronger. So strong that a 2011 survey, conducted by Deloitte, discovered that 9 percent of respondents had recently canceled their service. Another 11 percent were considering canceling their service. Why? Respondent said that they knew they could find their favorite shows online. That’s potentially a 20% customer loss for TV providers. Scary.

Cable’s Silver Lining

While Netflix, Hulu, and the rest offer an incredible amount of content, they still don’t offer everything. These services still cannot cater to sports fans. Channels like ESPN, NBC Sports, and regional sports channels are not available, legally at least, through streaming services. For many, this is where going all in on streaming becomes a problem. I know personally, I wouldn’t want to miss out on NBA, MLB, NHL, and NFL games. Netflix has also been looking to integrate themselves with cable companies. The company would like consumers to be able to access the service through a cable provider’s set-top box. So while streaming services are being looked at as the cable killer, Netflix is looking to coexist with its fellow media providers.

Can You Cut the Cord?

Seemingly, if you don’t watch sports, you can find whatever you want to watch via streaming. With so many popular television shows available, at less than $20 a month if you subscribe to Netflix and Hulu, it’s hard to justify paying $70 a month for channels you don’t need. Cable isn’t doing itself any favors, with prices continuing to increase. According to CNN, the popular “triple play” bundles of various service providers has been increasing at a rate of over 6 percent every year. If the price difference continues to be this significant, how long can people justify keeping cable? Photo by SITS Girls
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