Simple MLB.tv Blackout Workaround using VPN or DNS | Tested April 2017

Published by on giugno 19, 2016 in VPN & Privacy

Scuffed up
Major League Baseball fans in the United States who bought MLB.tv subscriptions are feeling betrayed by the fact that they can’t watch all the games promised to them due to live blackouts. MLB.com’s own website claims subscribers, who pay $25 per month or $120 per year, can “watch every out-of-market game regular season game live or on demand on over 400 supported devices.” Scroll down to the fine print, however, and the reality is quite different. Fans have expressed anger toward MLB.tv that many games are geo-locked due to local licensing restrictions, forcing them to buy a cable or satellite TV subscription in order to watch. According to MLB.TV’s blackout policy:

“All live games streamed on any MLB.TV product and available through MLB.com At Bat are subject to local, regional or national blackouts. Except for certain MLB regular season and Postseason games as described below or in certain MLB Club home television territories for which MLBAM may offer in-market subscription Services, all live games will be blacked out in each applicable Club’s home television territory. If a game is blacked out in an area, it is not available for live game viewing through MLB.TV.”

Luckily, there’s a workaround. A VPN, or virtual private network, reroutes all of a device’s internet traffic through a location of the user’s choosing. Fans can make it look as though they are watching from a different state or even country in order to bypass the blackout. Good VPNs usually require a monthly subscription fee, but it’s far cheaper than buying cable. This method works with ExpressVPN (includes 3 months extra free on 12 month plans via this link), which is simple to use, offers a 30 day money back guarantee and comes highly recommended. The same applies to IPVanish who  offer fast speeds perfect for streaming and a 7 day money back guarantee. We’ve re-tested this method as of September 2016 and can confirm it still works.

Another, cheaper, option is to use smart DNS such as Overplay a similar proxy service that obscures the viewer’s true location, but without the encryption used by VPNs.

What is a live blackout, exactly?

Before every MLB season, executives sit down and decide which broadcasting companies get the rights to which games. Often, a regional TV affiliate, such as your local Fox, NBC, or ABC TV station gets exclusive rights to games played by the local teams, and they don’t share. They also don’t live stream games online much of the time. Even MLB itself can’t broadcast those games online or on TV within that geographic market.

You can find out which games will be blacked out in advance using MLB.tv’s regularly updated list.

These content rights often bar MLB.tv subscribers from watching the teams they care about most–the ones closest to them. Whenever a fan goes to watch a game on a web browser or on the MLB.tv app, the app or website checks the device’s IP address. The IP address is used to determine the viewer’s location. If that viewer falls within the blackout region, the live stream is blocked. Instead of a live stream, you’ll get one of the following error messages:

  • “We’re sorry. The broadcasters’ required blackout checks cannot be performed at this time. Please try again in a few moments.”

  • “We’re sorry. We have determined that you are located inside one of the applicable Club’s home television territories and are therefore blacked out of watching the game you selected. Live Audio of this game is available as part of your MLB.TV subscription.”

  • “Due to Major League Baseball exclusivities, live games occurring each Saturday with a scheduled start time after 1:10 PM ET or before 8:00 PM ET and each Sunday with a scheduled start time after 5:00 PM ET, will be blacked out in the United States.”

  • “Media Error. This game is temporarily unavailable. Please try again in a few moments.”

The situation has been made worse by conflicts between TV companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which further fragment the channels available on cable.

Bypass MLB.tv blackouts in a web browser

Among other functions, a VPN can change your IP address to that of another location. After you connect to a VPN, just clear your cookies and refresh the page where the game you want to watch is streaming.

Most VPNs have native clients you can easily download and install. After setup, just select a server location and hit connect.

We tested this out by connecting to a Chicago server and attempting to watch a Cubs game. Sure enough, we got a message alerting us the game is under a local blackout.

mlb blackout chicago

Next we connected to servers in Miami using two separate VPNs: ExpressVPN and Total VPN. Both worked flawlessly. A quick refresh was all that was needed to unblock the stream; no more blackout messages.

mlb blackout chicago fixed

Some games are under national blackouts, so for this we tested servers in Mexico and Argentina. This worked fine as well. Ideally, however, you would want to connect to the location that is geographically closest to you but still beyond the blackout region. This speeds up the connection and results in a higher quality stream. In case of a nationwide blackout, however, connecting to another country should work. The one exception may be Canada, where some MLB teams hail from.

Bypassing MLB.tv blackouts on Android and iOS MLB At Bat app

Updated April 2017

If you want to bypass a blackout on the MLB At Bat app on either iOS or Android, we’re sorry to inform you that this is now much harder as of 2017. When we tested this before, we advised users to connect to a VPN server with an IP address outside of their blackout market. Android users could then use a fake GPS app to spoof their location to match the one set in their VPN.

This method no longer works. At Bat now requires your GPS location before viewing any game and can detect whether a mock location is being used in Android. It will block the stream accordingly, instead showing the error message:

“At bat is unable to reliably verify your location. Tap Help below for more information about blackout restrictions.”

As of the 2017 season, bypassing MLB At Bat’s blackout restrictions require Android phones and tablets to be rooted, and iPhones and iPads to be jailbroken.

Bypass MLB At Bat blackouts on Android

  1. Root your Android phone. The process for doing this is complicated and can brick your device if not done properly, so proceed with caution. Because the root process varies by device, we do not provide instructions for this step.
  2. Download and install FakeGPS or the GPS location-spoofing app of your choice (except for option C).
  3. Download and install MLB At Bat (except for option C). If it’s already installed, clear your app cache data in your device’s storage settings.

From here you have three options to try:

Option A:

  1. Install Hide Mock Locations from the Xposed Module (requires root).
  2. In Settings > Developer Options enable “Allow mock locations” or, on newer versions of Android, choose you GPS location-spoofing app
  3. Open Hide Mock Locations and set it to blacklist mode.
  4. Add MLB At Bat to the blacklist
  5. Open your GPS location-spoofing app and drop the pin somewhere outside of your blackout region where a VPN server is available.
  6. Open your VPN app and connect to a server close to the location you chose in the previous step.
  7. Open MLB At Bat and stream the game!

Option B:

  1. Move your GPS app from /data/app to /system/app using Root Explorer or a similar file manager app (requires root)
  2. Restart your device.
  3. In Settings > Developer Options disable Mock Locations (if enabled)
  4. Open your location-spoofing app and set your location to somewhere outside of the blackout region where a VPN server is available
  5. Open your VPN app and connect to a server close to the location you chose in the previous step.
  6. Open MLB At Bat and stream the game!

Option C:

  1. Install XPrivacy from the Xposed Module (requires root).
  2. When installing MLB At Bat, you will see a list of permissions. When this list appears, open your device Settings
  3. Tap the Randomize Now button.
  4. Set an IP address to a location outside of your blackout region (you can use your VPN’s IP address if you wish)
  5. Restrict all permissons except Internet
  6. In your Android settings, set Location to High Accuracy mode
  7. Finish installing MLB At Bat, open it, and stream the game!

Should you run into issues with Option B, some users have reported that restarting into Recovery and clearing out Cache/Dalvik Cache can solve some problems. You can also try discarding your login info by using “delete data” in the MLB At Bat settings, then logging in again.

Bypass MLB At Bat blackouts on iOS

  1. Jailbreak your iPhone or iPad. The process for doing this is complicated and can permanently brick your device if not done properly, so proceed with caution. Jailbreaking varies depending on your iPad or iPhone model, so we do not provide instructions for this step.
  2. Download and install Protect My Privacy (PMP) from the Cydia store
  3. Download and install MLB At Bat and open the stream.
  4. When MLB At Bat asks for permission to view your location using your GPS, PMP will display a prompt. Choose the option to “protect” your location, which will substitute a random GPS location rather than simply blocking access
  5. You may also need to connect to a VPN to change your IP address (to be confirmed)
  6. Stream the game!

Links:

Overplay DNS
ExpressVPN (includes 3 months free on 12 month plans)

Image: “Scuffed up” by slgckgc licensed under CC BY 2.0

Lascia un commento

Il tuo indirizzo email non sarà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *

Questo sito usa Akismet per ridurre lo spam. Scopri come i tuoi dati vengono elaborati.