Where to Stream College Baseball During the 2021 Season
With each passing year, finding college baseball games on television and via streaming services gets easier, and in a 2021 season when fan attendance will be severely limited in every case, and outright disallowed in some cases, it stands to reason that viewing games on TV or online will get more accessible still.
We’re here to help make sure that you get the most out of your viewing experience with our annual guide to college baseball streaming. We’ll take you through how you can find games in each of the top conferences, plus some other considerations to take into account.
|AT&T TV Now||Fubo TV||Hulu + Live TV||Sling TV||YouTube TV|
The best baseball conference in the land also continues to lead the way in terms of live game accessibility. As has been the case for a number of years, just about every SEC game that takes place in an SEC ballpark is available either on the ESPN family of networks (primarily SEC Network) or on SEC Network+, the channel’s streaming arm. This year, 76 regular-season games will be shown on ESPN’s networks, with 59 on SEC Network, 16 on ESPNU and one on ESPN2.
SEC Network is one of the easier premium cable channels to get. It’s available with all of the major players in the live TV streaming space. It’s part of the basic package on YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV, and available in a higher tier or as an add-on with AT&T TV Now, Fubo TV and Sling TV.
Note that just because it’s in a higher tier or only available as an add-on doesn’t mean it’s necessarily more expensive than it is in the places where it’s part of the base package. You will have to comparison shop to make that determination, and keep that in mind with all of these premium cable channels.
Atlantic Coast Conference
Don’t fret, fans of ACC teams, in terms of game availability, you’re not far behind the SEC. In fact, the same blanket statement applies in this conference. If it’s a game played by an ACC team in an ACC ballpark, you should expect that game to be available either on ACC Network itself or through ACC Network Extra.
Also, because the ACCN is owned and operated by ESPN, same as SECN, the carriage is similar. The channel is available through all major live TV streaming services and subscribing to it will give you access to all of the games streamed on ACC Network Extra. It’s just a matter of finding the service that works best for you.
Big Ten Conference
The Big Ten Network has not yet announced broadcast schedules for the baseball season, but with the schedule released Wednesday, more will be clear on that front in the weeks to come. We do know that the slate is set to begin the first weekend of March, however, and if BTN uses the same broadcasting philosophy as it has in the past, we should expect plenty of baseball on the docket. It just remains to be seen if a conference-only slate for the league ends up meaning more or less baseball making it onto the air. The channel is also widely available.
Like the SEC and ACC, the Big Ten also has a streaming service called BTN Plus, but it’s important to draw a couple of distinctions there. For one, note that BTN Plus is a paid over-the-top service completely separate from BTN. That means that simply being subscribed to BTN on cable or a streaming service doesn’t get you access to BTN Plus. Rather, it’s an add-on that will give you access to conference games that aren’t being shown on BTN.
Having BTN Plus also might not guarantee that you get to see every Big Ten game, either. In the past, certain games have been omitted from being streamed on BTN Plus, but perhaps the league going to conference-only schedules this season is a reason for optimism that a higher percentage of games will be available this time around.
Finally, BTN Plus games are often, if not exclusively, put on by students at the member universities. That’s a really good way to get students real experience in broadcasting and a great way for the network to give back to the campus communities, but it does mean that the production and broadcast quality can vary pretty widely.
The Pac-12’s broadcasting struggles, mostly tied to issues relating to the Pac-12 Network, are well-documented. All we’ll say here about it is that not much has changed. You still have to jump through hoops to get the Pac-12 Network. As far as streaming services go, it is only available on Fubo TV and Sling TV, which gives you significantly less latitude to comparison shop between services if having the Pac-12 Network is a priority.
And the conference’s streaming offerings are similarly limited. Many teams do a good job of streaming non-conference games for free on their own websites, but with reduced schedules this season, there will be fewer of those games to go around. Also, not all teams stream their games consistently or at all, and most, if not all, conference games will be picked up by the Pac-12 Network, therefore making them unavailable to everyone but subscribers.
The occasional Pac-12 showdown will end up on one of the ESPN networks, but that won’t represent a significant number of games in the end. If you’re a Pac-12 diehard, it’s easy enough to subscribe to one of the services that carries the Pac-12 Network, but if you’re looking to just watch the conference casually or in an effort to see as much college baseball as possible, it’s a tougher sell.
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Big 12 Conference
Before last season, the Big 12 took a big step by having about half of its membership join up with ESPN+ to stream home baseball contests, even if that did leave the league in the convoluted situation of having half its league involved in that deal and half not. This season, the Big 12 takes an even bigger step in getting the entirety of the conference, save for Texas, which will keep its home games on Longhorn Network, onto the ESPN+ platform.
ESPN+ is a paid over-the-top service that requires a subscription, so having a cable or streaming subscription that gives you the rest of the ESPN family of networks won’t be enough to get you access. That’s an additional barrier for viewers, but it’s a huge upgrade over where the conference was before, when game broadcasts were mostly siloed by each team, either on a regional Fox Sports network or behind a paywall on the team’s site.
The asterisk in the conference from a streaming standpoint, of course, is Texas, and if you’re a Longhorns fan looking for the LHN games on a streaming service, your lone option as it stands today is Sling TV.
American Athletic Conference
The AAC deserves mention because its streaming situation improves this season, as it moves much of its game inventory to ESPN+. Up until last season, game broadcasts were all over the map, with solutions as far-reaching as Central Florida using Twitch to stream games.
While it’s unclear exactly what percentage of AAC games will be available on the service, the conference touts “hundreds” of games in sports that include volleyball, soccer, lacrosse, softball and baseball, so it seems safe to assume it will be a healthy number.
Other Streaming Considerations
- At $29.99/month (or much lower if you pay for a year of the service up front), FloSports is a somewhat pricey add-on, but it might be worth the purchase for at least the first month of the season if you want to see some of the best events on the calendar. Flo has broadcast rights for the State Farm College Baseball Showdown, the Round Rock Classic and the Frisco College Baseball Classic, among other early-season tournaments. It also has broadcast rights for games in the Colonial Athletic Association, so if you’re a fan of a team in that conference, this is a good option for you.
- With the Big 12 and AAC on board, it’s easy to see the value in an ESPN+ subscription for college baseball, but it goes far beyond just those two leagues. Ahead of last season, for example, ESPN advertised that it had more than 450 games from 18 different conferences scheduled for ESPN+. Expect an even larger output this season.
- Stadium, an independent streaming service, also has some rights deals, most notably with the Mountain West Conference and West Coast Conference.
- The Big West and Conference USA will continue to stream much of their game inventory through BigWest.TV and CUSA.TV, online-only networks through Sidearm.
- FS1, FS2 and CBS Sports Network have all televised the odd college baseball game here or there, and each still might at some point, but not often enough to prioritize those channels when making a decision on streaming services with regards to college baseball. Below is a full grid showing which channels that carry college baseball are available on which streaming services. As mentioned previously, some of these channels are only available on some services as an add-on or as part of a premium tier.