Blog Post

Cord Cutters: A First Look at MLB & NBA on Apple TV

With the latest software update to the Apple TV (s AAPL) set-top box, sports fans will finally be able to stream live baseball and basketball games on the device. For sports fans and cord cutters like me, that gives us another way to keep track of our favorite teams without having to pay for a cable subscription.

We took a first look at the new sports apps available on the Apple TV for this special episode of Cord Cutters:

I’m a Phillies fan and subscriber to, so I was curious to see how the service looks on the Apple TV. Unfortunately, it’s still spring training, so the number of games that are available for streaming are relatively limited. Also, the games aren’t being streamed in HD yet, but MLB says that should be corrected once the MLB season officially starts. While the MLB app is a nice feature right now, after Opening Day it could be a must-have for cord-cutting baseball fans, or even those that live outside the home area of their favorite team.

I also have access to NBA League Pass Broadband — provided to us free by Turner (s TWX) so we could test out the service — so we took a look at that as well. The verdict? Games streamed on Apple TV look really good. While the quality isn’t quite “true” HD, on a big screen TV, the NBA streams will look nearly as good as those displayed through your local sports network’s standard definition stream.

Altogether, the new apps available through Apple TV are great news for sports fans who don’t pay for cable, and great news for people who don’t live in the home market of their favorite baseball or basketball team. Unfortunately for those who live in their favorite team’s home market, games won’t be available due to local blackout restrictions. But for the rest of us, and NBA League Pass are great ways to watch all the games, now on TV.

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8 Responses to “Cord Cutters: A First Look at MLB & NBA on Apple TV”

  1. @anorotn It already is, you have to purchase it through Direct TV for online use. It’s $350 for the season, I believe it’s called NFL To-go or something along those lines. It seems to be a well protected secret, perhaps because of the current NFL issues and possible lock out.

  2. gonzo90017

    That is another thing that pisses me off. There is no option to hide the scores. So say you get home late from work and want to watch a game. The League Pass landing page greats you with all of the day’s scores. Who want’s to watch a game when you already know the score? They do this on purpose to save on bandwidth costs.

    Regarding the VPN. That’s what I heard but I found out about it too late into the season. But that is what i’m planning to do for next year :)

  3. gonzo90017

    Local teams are also blacked out. Since i’m in LA I can’t watch ANY of the Laker or Clippers games. Even if they’re playing one of my other teams.

    You can watch archived games but only for the yesterday’s games. Seriously that’s as far at it goes!

    • Hey man,

      What really sucks is that the International NBA Broadband service is really good, it can be compared to MLB.TV. It won’t show the scores, no blackouts at all and full HD quality (16:9) and streams up to 3,000 kbps. I ended up paying for the International Pass and signing up for a VPN Service (which gives me a UK IP address). Even though I paid twice (since I paid for the stupid USA NBA League Pass) I’m a happy camper.

  4. gonzo90017

    In my opinion MLB is actually the best sports streaming service there is. It’s only $100 and you get to watch ALL the teams play. Blackouts are for LIVE games only. You can watch the games 90 minutes after their over. That’s how I watch my Dodgers play here in Los Angeles. GO DODGERS!

    Let’s compare that to NBA’s crappy NBA League Pass. The game (on pc’s) is broadcast inside a 4×3 frame. So it’s not full screen. It’s like watching a 16×9 widescreen movie with black bars on the top and bottom. So the picture is very small even on my 37″ tv.

    The cheapest plan costs $129 and it’s only for 7 teams! What’s makes this worse is the blackout restrictions. So let’s say you pick the top teams. Lakers, San Antonio, Celtics, Heat, Bulls, Orlando, Dallas. Those teams are the ones that will most likely be blacked out.

    So on Thursdays there are only 2 games shown. And guess what they’re on TNT so no basketball for you on Thursdays. And then there is NBA TV. Which boasts about having the most games then any other network. So all of those games shown on NBA TV are also blacked out. And they show games almost every day of the week. And not only that but on Tuesday’s fans vote for which game they want to see which of course is always the best teams so you get blacked out.

    I don’t mind the ESPN blackouts so much because of ESPN but if you have an ISP that doesn’t offer access like Time Warner you also have blackouts for those games. (Time Warner does not offer access if you ONLY subscribe to internet.)

  5. This is fantastic news! Would love to get more details on the blackout rules for the MLB & NBA games. Can you also give some details on your internet download speed that this was tested? This is definitely a move in the right direction.

  6. This is great for Apple TV owners but you over simplify the blackout rules, especially for MLB. For instance I am a Boston Red Sox fan in Austin, TX. When the Red Sox play the Texas Rangers in Dallas the game is blacked out for me even when there is no local broadcast because it’s within 300 miles. Also FOX has all Saturday afternoon games. If your local FOX affiliate doesn’t choose to show the game you want, you are out of luck. MLB needs to move away from these draconian rules and allow subscribers to watch all games.