As a Washington Nationals fan, not being able to watch your favorite team on TV can be frustrating. MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) has exclusive rights to broadcast Nationals games locally, but depending on where you live, you may not have access to this regional sports network. Fortunately, there are still several options to watch the Nationals play without a MASN subscription.
Streaming TV services have become popular alternatives to cable and satellite. Many of the major streaming platforms carry sports channels that air Nationals games nationally or in certain regions:
- YouTube TV – Offers MASN along with NBC Sports Washington in the Nationals’ home market. Also carries ESPN, FOX, and MLB Network for national games.
- Hulu Live TV – Carries NBC Sports Washington for in-market streaming, along with national channels.
- Sling TV – Their Sling Blue package includes FOX and FS1 for national games. Sports add-on gets you MLB Network.
- DIRECTV STREAM – Carries MASN, along with national channels through their Entertainment package. More expensive Choice package adds NBC Sports Washington.
- fuboTV – Includes NBC Sports Washington, FOX, FS1, and MLB Network depending on your location.
Most streaming services offer a free trial to test them out. Be sure to double check that your local RSNs and national sports channels are included before subscribing.
MLB.TV is Major League Baseball’s premium streaming package that lets you watch out-of-market games live or on demand. This means you can watch the Nationals within MLB.TV’s network everywhere except the Nationals’ home broadcast territory.
The catch is that Nationals home games will be blacked out live in the D.C. area and surrounding regions. However, you can still use MLB.TV to watch these games 90 minutes after they end with their replay service.
MLB.TV subscriptions currently start at $25/month or $130/season. There are also single-team packages if you only need the Nationals.
Another option is using an over-the-air (OTA) TV antenna to try and pick up local stations that broadcast Nationals games in your area. Here are some possibilities:
- NBC Sports Washington – Carried on cable and satellite, but also broadcast over-the-air in the D.C. region. An antenna may allow you to tune into Nats games shown locally.
- WJLA 7 – ABC affiliate that airs national MLB games broadcast on ESPN’s channels on Sundays. An antenna can pull in ABC for Sunday Night Baseball if you’re close enough.
- MASN – Unlikely, but some advanced antennas in range may pick up this regional network over-the-air in certain areas.
Your antenna needs to be within range of a station’s broadcast radius to have a chance at receiving the signal. AntennaWeb.org can check what stations should be available at your address.
Go to a Sports Bar
When all else fails, watching the game at a local sports pub or bar is an easy way to catch the action. Many sports bars have MLB packages on their satellite or cable plan that include MASN or the alternate local broadcast. Plus you get to enjoy the game with other Nats fans!
Just be prepared that tables with a good view of their TVs will fill up fast during popular Nationals games. Getting their earlier or even reserving a table may be required to guarantee you have a spot.
Listen on the Radio
You can always listen to Nationals games on the radio, even when you can’t watch them on TV. The team’s flagship station is 106.7 The Fan (WFAN-FM), which broadcasts all 162 regular season games and any playoffs on the radio.
The FM station can be picked up throughout the Washington metro area. Streaming live online on The Fan’s website is another option. And the MLB Ballpark app provides live radio feeds over the internet for those out of range of the FM signal.
While not as exciting as watching, listening to Nationals radio is a handy backup plan to follow along when other methods fail or on the go.
In some cases, individual Nationals games may be available as streaming pay-per-view purchases. Prices are usually around $5-10 for a single game in HD:
- DirecTV Stream – Offers pay-per-view purchase of MLB games not normally on their lineup.
- Spectrum TV – Provides selected MLB matchups for purchase to their Spectrum internet subscribers through Spectrum TV Choice app.
- Vidgo – Allows customized pay-per-view buying of MLB games à la carte without a base package.
These types of on-demand single games can occasionally help when your preferred method fails or for a big event like opening day. But purchasing multiple games individually gets expensive.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) can be a clever workaround when coverage is limited due to media rights restrictions. Connecting to a server in another city gives the illusion that’s where you’re located.
For example, if you live outside the Nationals broadcast territory, connecting to a VPN server in Washington D.C. may allow you to stream the hometown feed on MLB.TV that would normally be blacked out.
Likewise, using a VPN server in say Philadelphia to put you in the territory of NBC Sports Philadelphia could allow you to watch their coverage of games against the Phillies shown locally.
VPN usage often violates broadcast rights restrictions, however, so streaming providers can attempt to block known VPN IP addresses. There’s no guarantee it always works flawlessly.
Navigating blackout restrictions and broadcast rights to watch your favorite team can be complicated. While paying for a TV provider that carries MASN is the most reliable method, hopefully these alternatives provide ideas to catch Nationals games without access to their main local network.
Streaming packages, MLB.TV, antennas, bars, radio, and VPNs all offer the potential to watch or listen to Nationals baseball through both legal and more creative means.
With persistence and creativity, you can usually find a way to enjoy watching Nationals baseball without access to MASN as your local RSN. Go Nats!