NBC Regional Networks, MLBAM Ink Deal for Live In-Market Stream of MLB Games

NBC’s Playmaker Media will provide backend infrastructure for its MLB in-market streaming, which will also feature dynamic ad insertion

NBC Sports Regional Networks has signed a deal with MLBAM to stream local-market MLB games, as well as pre/postgame shows, beginning with the 2017 regular season. This new streaming offering is available at no additional cost to authenticated pay-TV subscribers of NBC Sports Group’s MLB-rights-holding regional sports networks: CSN Chicago (Cubs and White Sox), CSN Philadelphia (Phillies), CSN California (Oakland Athletics), and CSN Bay Area (San Francisco Giants). New York Mets games, which are carried on SNY (which is owned 65% by the Mets, 27% by Charter Communications, and 8% by Comcast/NBC Sports Group), are not included in the deal. 

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The addition of MLB authenticated in-market streaming completes NBC Sports Regional Networks’ local-streaming portfolio, which also provides local NBA and NHL live streaming. The company introduced NBA streaming in 2014 and last fall announced the addition of NHL in-market streaming, beginning with the 2016-17 season. NBC’s MLB in-market streaming will launch in time for 2017 MLB Opening Day.

“With this deal, we’re now able to offer all of our major live events on any platform to all of our customers within our regions,” says David Preschlack, president, NBC Sports Regional Networks and NBC Sports Group Platform and Content Strategy. “For us, at the core, it’s all about serving fans. And, frankly, without a streaming product that covers all of our live events on any platform and any device, we’re just not serving our fans in our markets in the most optimal way that’s conducive to their lifestyle. This agreement gives us the ability to serve our fans with live event content on the best available screen, regardless of where a fan is. That’s really powerful for us.”

NBC Sports Group’s Playmaker Media will provide the backend infrastructure and workflow to live-stream MLB games and shoulder programming to authenticated users in CSN regions. Although NBC will work with MLBAM in the exchange of live feeds, Playmaker will drive the platform, as it did for NBC’s in-market streaming of NHL and NBA games.

“We’re using our own in-house backend provider, Playmaker Media, which makes it easier and more efficient for us, as opposed to having to work with a third party,” says Preschlack. “Obviously, Playmaker is one of the best in the business and has powered the Olympics, the NFL, and other major events, as well as our NHL streaming — both regionally and nationally — and NBA streaming. That said, we are also hand-in-glove with BAM on the technical aspects to ensure that the right people are getting the right product in the right area. We’re obviously completely aligned with BAM in terms of the accessibility and security of the product. So they’ve been a great partner to work with in that regard.”

As has been the case for NBC’s NBA and NHL in-market streaming, MLB live streams will feature dynamic ad insertion with a separate commercial inventory from the linear telecast.

“We think it’s going to open up some new doors and create some added-value opportunities for us from an advertising standpoint,” says Preschlack, who has headed NBC’’s RSNs for just a over a year. “As important as anything else, this also fundamentally bolsters the value of the multichannel-video subscription since this is an authenticated product. We really feel that it’s going to drive value back to the multichannel-video subscribers in these markets.”

With all teams on Fox Sports RSNs (which inked its in-market streaming deal with MLB in November 2015) and NBC RSNs now aboard, games of 21 of the 30 MLB teams are now available to stream in-market — more than two-thirds of the league. The remaining teams to be streamed in-market are the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals (MASN), Boston Red Sox (NESN), Los Angeles Dodgers (Spectrum Sportsnet LA), and New York Mets (SNY), as well as AT&T Sports Networks/Root Sports’ Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Seattle Mariners.

NBC UNIVERSAL EXECUTIVES -- Pictured: David Preschlack, President, NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBC Sports Group -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

NBC Sports’ David Preschlack: “We feel really good about where we’re positioned regionally in terms of rights to all major live event programming in our markets.” (Photo: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

NBC Sports Regional Networks now has partnerships for in-market streaming of the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, San Jose Sharks, San Francisco Giants, and Oakland A’s (CSN Bay Area/CSN California); Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Cubs, and Chicago White Sox (CSN Chicago); Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals (CSN Mid-Atlantic); Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Flyers, and Philadelphia Phillies (CSN Philadelphia); and Boston Celtics (CSN New England).

“I think the industry has come a long way and we, as an organization, have come a long way,” says Preschlack. “We feel really good about where we’re positioned regionally in terms of rights to all major live event programming in our markets. I’m optimistic and bullish about the prospects going forward with respect to all things streaming, especially Major League Baseball games. Now that we’re in a position to stream all of our live events, we can look at things a lot differently, especially from a marketing and ad-sales perspective.”

Authenticated CSN subscribers can access live MLB, NBA, and NHL games, as well as other sports programming, anywhere in the U.S. During the 2017 MLB season, all in-market MLB games will be streamed on the respective CSN site to 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.

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