T-Mobile Renews MLB Partnership, Free MLB.tv for Subscribers Through 2028

T-Mobile subscribers can expect five more seasons of MLB.tv for free after the wireless carrier signed a contract extension with Major League Baseball.

The renewal of T-Mobile’s partnership agreement will also see the company continue its sponsorship of the Home Run Derby during MLB All-Star Week and begin supporting one of baseball’s more interesting experiments in the minor leagues — the automated Ball Strike (ABS) system (Opens in new window) that baseball began testing there in 2019(Opens in new window).

The airline will deploy a private 5G network at an unspecified minor-league stadium to transmit ABS data and “ensure highly reliable, low-latency communications while players and officials review, challenge and analyze calls.”

This wording in T-Mobile’s release suggests that this test will involve the less ambitious form of ABS used, where human umpires still call balls and shots, but each team gets three challenges per game – those from pitchers only , catchers or batters. By the end of August last year, this system sustained 55% of human calls challenged in single-A and triple-A games(Opens in a new window).

Baseball has also conducted smaller-scale testing of a full “robot rump” version of ABS, in which that system’s Hawk-Eye video sensor technology (opens in a new window) (which tennis already uses with line calls) tracks balls and shots directly calls .

But until a clue is found on how to install T-Mobile’s network equipment, Major League Baseball made it clear that both scenarios are possible.

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T-Mobile’s ABS support could eventually fuel its ambitions to become a 5G application platform, but in the near future this carrier could see more value in offering its MLB.tv giveaway to subscribers through 2028 The T-Mobile Advantage since 2017, allowing for live streaming of games off-market but not in-market viewing thanks to regional bans (Opens in a new window) that MLB enforces to protect legacy carriage deals with regional sports networks.

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The baseball streaming market has changed rapidly, however, as live TV streaming services have ditched “RSNs” (Opens in a new window) because of their high cost or, in the case of Fubo, introduced a new fee to to cover these expenses. With several RSNs now going bankrupt or with a parent company looking to go out of business, MLB seems increasingly interested in turning MLB.tv into a general-purpose game-streaming platform — one that could finally welcome fans who want to see their home team while they’re at home.

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