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Digital Sports Streaming Expands on Roku, Boxee and PlayStation 3

 

Digital sports streaming is one of the greatest ideas of modern times. There must be millions of transplants or other out-of-market sports fans out there with no way of getting their sports outside of stiff, expensive cable packages. Digital streaming of games is changing all that.

Last year, Roku announced a partnership with the MLB to stream content via the MLB.TV package, which can be ordered and watched online. With the Roku set-top box viewers can enjoy games in HD or SD in their living room rather than on their laptop.

The service offers viewers a variety of advantages over cable packages like MLB Extra Innings including archived games, DVR functionality and the ability to watch on the television or on-the-go on a computer. After buying the box for a starting price of $80, the MLB.TV package is also significantly cheaper at $100, or $120 for the premium version. MLB Extra Innings cost me somewhere close to $200 last year.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of MLB.TV is that archived games are not subject to black-out restrictions. So, if one of the MLB's ridiculous black-outs affect a game that you want to watch, you may not be able to see it live, but you'll be able to watch the archived version.

From experience, some of the games I most want to watch are often purchased by Fox. Unfortunately, Fox chooses to purchase two or three games on any given Saturday and often plays a different one in my market. Since the game I want to watch is technically being covered nationally, it's not available on MLB Extra Innings. In simpler terms, I get screwed out of an important game, despite paying close to $200 for a comprehensive package. BS. With MLB.TV on Roku, I could at least see the archived game, an option that is likely to be more convenient than watching the live game anyway. 

The advantage of digital streaming via Roku has been limited to baseball fans, but the company now offers a free NBA Game Time function that provides video highlights, game summaries and league info. It was launched for the playoffs that are now underway. It's far short of full coverage, but it's a step in the right direction. 

For hockey fans, digital streaming service Boxee will offer NHL Game Center Live, which streams about 1,000 of the league's 1,200 games per season. The service costs $19.95 per month. The NHL season is almost over, but Boxee plans to continue the service into next season. 

Finally, MLB fans that don't want to buy a new set-top box will have another option: PS3. Sony announced that the PS3 will offer MLB.TV through its free PlayStation Network. You'll still need to pay for the MLB.TV subscription, but will be able to stream coverage with the PS3 without any new hardware. 

Assuming deals like this continue and last, out-of-market sports fans should have a cheaper, more reliable place to enjoy must-watch, non-national games. I look forward to trying Roku with MLB later this season and the NBA coverage just sweetened the pot. I hope to see more sports available this way. 

Via Wall Street Journal