Sling TV, other vMVPD operators load up on baseball ahead of new MLB season

Wrigley Field in Chicago

Migrating ever further beyond the realm of complementary products and into the area of full-blown replacements for traditional pay-TV services, several of the major virtual MVPD operators have announced sports programming acquisitions just ahead of the start of the Major League Baseball season.

Sling TV has now launched NBCUniversal’s CSN-branded regional sports networks in the Bay Area, Sacramento, Chicago and Mid-Atlantic markets, giving local customers with the Sling Blue platform the ability to see hometown teams such as the San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs and others.

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Across both its Blue and Orange platforms, Sling TV-using baseball fans have access to games on national networks such as TBS, ESPN and FOX, and other regional channels, such as Fox-owned RSNs.

The Comcast/NBCU-controlled RSNs are also available on AT&T’s vMVPD service, DirecTV Now, as well as Google’s just-launched YouTube TV service.

The Sling TV move comes as vMVPD rival Sony PlayStation Vue has announced the addition of the MLB Network to all of its programming tiers at no additional cost. 

Speaking to investors last month, Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch said that when the IP-based service launched two years ago, it had a much narrower selection of content and was primarily targeted toward younger consumers who never had pay TV.

As Sling’s channel selection has steadily expanded into a fuller offering more closely resembling traditional pay-TV service, Lynch conceded, so has the target market.

“We’re seeing a broadening of our demographic,” he said. “We’re getting people from all age groups.”