There’s nothing more irritating than finding out that access to your favorite streaming content has been blocked. And this isn’t a new concept, either. Tons of streaming content sites like Netflix, Pandora, Spotify, Hulu, and others have restricted their content based on geographic regions.
But sports fans feel the pain of being blocked stronger than people who merely want to watch a movie or television show. Sports games are incredibly temporal, exciting, and short-lived. The last thing any of us want is to miss the big game, only to see the outcome on a news site or social media network. From this article, you will learn how to create MLB.TV workarounds.
Unfortunately for baseball fans, MLB.TV has created a blackout policy (booo!), meaning that video content is under some extremely strict rules that can bar people from watching and enjoying their favorite teams
. But why do they do this in the first place? The short answer is for profits, but MLB.TV is under some strict and legally binding regulations concerning licensing and copyright agreements. Most people don’t fully understand their blackout policy, so let’s take a closer look at what it is and how it works.
Major League Baseball Blackout Policy
The term ‘blackout’ generally refers to the availability of game content hosted on MLB.TV. In a perfect world, users would be able to stream any game they want with no restrictions. However, that doesn’t seem to be a reality.
All live games hosted on MLB.TV is subject to some pretty complex blackout rules dependent upon geographic regions and other factors. These rules prevent an area’s home team from being streamed on MLB.TV.
Interestingly enough, it doesn’t matter whether a region’s team is playing a home or away game – they are still subject to a blackout. In addition, even if a region’s home team is playing a game that isn’t televised (which isn’t too likely), it is still subjected to a blackout. And these rules apply in both the US and Canada, and all the location determinations and definition of territories are up to the discretion of Major League Baseball.
Furthermore, all San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics games are intentionally made unavailable for viewers in Guam. Last but not least, users should note that games that have been blacked out in a region will become available online 90 minutes after a game has finished if the user is a premium or Single Team subscriber.
These rules and regulations are extremely tedious and irritating. One of the thrills of sports is watching sporting history unfold in real-time. Every sports fan has felt the pain of catching up league standings and exciting events with friends who actually witnessed the game live. Though watching a game 90 minutes after it has finished is helpful, it lacks the true excitement of watching a live feed.
Fortunately, there are a couple easy ways to combat these problems and view your favorite MLB team even if their game is blacked out in your region.
The Blackout Solution
Now it’s time to dig into the good stuff. We all know how cumbersome and irritating the MLB blackouts are, but how on Earth do we circumvent them? Well, there are essentially two options at your disposal: a proxy service or a VPN tunnel.
A VPN tunnel is more preferable than a proxy service for several reasons, but the truth is that they are both viable alternatives to help you follow your favorite team online. Let’s take a closer look at how proxy services can be used to circumvent MLB blackout restrictions.
Proxy Services Explained
Most people have heard of a proxy server before, but most people don’t understand what they do or how they work. A proxy server is essentially an intermediate computer (or server) that requests web content on behalf of the user. Think of a proxy server as a middleman, and all of a user’s data flows through the proxy server before reaching the destination web content (in this case, MLB.TV).
But why would someone want to use a ‘middleman?’ After all, it only slows down your Internet connection, right? Well, while it’s true that proxy servers do add a little bit of overhead to your connection, the overhead is incredibly small. The real advantage is that a proxy server is located in a geographic region that isn’t affected by the blackout.
You see MLB.TV determines a user’s geographic region – and hence the determination if they are restricted from viewing a game – by their IP address. An IP address is a unique identifier that computers use to talk to each other on the Internet, and they are distributed across the globe by geographic region. By analyzing the IP address of an incoming connection request, MLB.TV can ascertain where that user is geographically located – or that’s the theory, at least.
It is incredibly easy to fool MLB.TV servers into believing that a user belongs in a geographic region different than where they are truly located. This concept is referred to as masking, whereby a user basically ‘borrows’ the IP address of a proxy server in the region unaffected by the blackout restrictions. But there are a few drawbacks to proxy services, despite their ability to unlock MLB.TV content.
First and foremost, they offer no security. Your data is sent through the proxy server without encryption, meaning that whoever runs the proxy server can potentially see all of the information you send and request online.
This is a massive security threat. In addition, ISPs, governmental agencies, and even common hackers will be able to see the data you transmit online. While an MLB game may seem inconsequential, please understand that other unrelated web activities will also be sent through the proxy server without careful configuration.
Furthermore, small proxy services are more frequently blocked than massive VPN networks. Other streaming content sites, such as Hulu, has blocked IP addresses from known proxy servers in the past, making the content unavailable. VPN services, as we’ll discuss next, typically have a much larger bank of shared IP addresses, and they are constantly adding new servers and IP addresses to their network.
VPN Services Explained
VPN tunnels work in a similar manner to proxy services with one critical advantage – they encrypt all of your data and provide extremely strong security. Not only can a user mask their IP address with one used by the VPN server, but ISPs, hackers, and governmental agencies won’t be able to see what data you are transmitting. In addition, most VPN providers have a strict no-logging policy, meaning that they don’t record any users’ web activities.
The encryption service offered with VPN tunnels is invaluable, and it will encrypt more than only your traffic sent to MLB.TV. All data that flows through the VPN tunnel is impossible for third parties to read, ensuring that you don’t have to worry about the government or an ISP looking over your shoulder.
After all, you have a right to privacy. And in today’s data-driven world, users need a secure and anonymous way to access all of their information online. Since Edward Snowden blew the whistle, citizens across the globe have been able to see just how nosy the NSA is by wiretapping data and transmissions from domestic citizens.
And even though some websites block some VPN providers’ IP addresses, it is an incredibly challenging game of cat and mouse. As soon as a VPN provider adds more servers or IP addresses to their network, the website or content provider is going to have a tough time finding and blocking the new addresses. It seems to be an endless cycle, and websites can’t ever hope to permanently block every IP address used by a VPN service.
Final Thoughts on MLB.TV Workarounds
The MLB.TV blackout regulations are incredibly annoying, creating problems for many avid baseball fans in the US and Canada. The good news is that the blackout restrictions are incredibly easy to overcome.
All a user needs is a proxy service or a VPN tunnel. Though a proxy server will get the job done, users are better off using a VPN tunnel because their IP addresses are more challenging to block and they have the inherent benefit of added security with encryption protocols. Instead of catching up on the latest MLB games via statistics and highlights, just watch it live on MLB.TV with a VPN tunnel.