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5 Best VPNs for Major League Baseball – Get around Blackouts in 2017

Stephen Cooper

Stephen Cooper

September 11, 2017

The MLB enables subscribers to watch Major League Baseball games though the MLB.tv website. You can also get the At Bat app for you smartphone. This method of watching games live on the go also gives you the opportunity of casting a game from your device to a TV. The ability to take your subscription on your cell and show it on a friend’s TV means you don’t have to be the host for every game just because you’re the only one with an MLB subscription.

The live streams at the MLB site are supplemented by an archive of games that you can watch on demand. However, most people enjoy the thrill of watching games live.

Quick Links to our 5 best VPNs for MLB

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. VyprVPN
  3. IPVanish
  4. Buffered
  5. VPNArea

MLB’s live streaming service is confusing. You’re not allowed to watch your local team play live. That includes when that team is playing away. The team that is “local” to you is the closest team to the location from which you access the site. The bizarre rules mean that the people who get the most out of the live game service are those who live nowhere near the home grounds of their favorite teams.

The MLB terms of service refer to these blocks as “blackouts.” This is what most streaming services call “regional restrictions.” However, regional restrictions are usually imposed nationally to prevent people accessing live streams from overseas.

The MLB does impose national and international blackouts too. The league sells the live rights to certain games every year to Fox and ESPN. When an MLB game is being shown on one of these two stations, it is not available through MLB.tv.

All games that are blacked out are available online 90 minutes after the end of the game. In order to watch the games live, you need to take out subscriptions to MLB, Fox and ESPN. You also need to live near a really lousy team that you would never want to watch!

If your plans take you overseas for a while, things become even more frustrating. MLB sells live broadcast rights for foreign countries. Just about all of these franchises are owned by Fox and ESPN. Each company has exclusive rights in a list of countries. That means you can access the MLB website from other countries, but you can’t watch any of the content there.

So, what do you do if your company sends you to work overseas for a while? If you already have a subscription to MLB in the US, you won’t be able to watch the service without paying again to the local franchise holder.

This crazy set up probably makes you really angry. Thankfully, there is a way that you can put an end to all of this nonsense – and it’s legal. You just need to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The MLB imposes blackouts on your access based on where you are when you access the site. VPNs trick the MLB server by making it seem that you’re in a location where the blackout doesn’t apply. You can find out more on how the MLB server knows where you are, and how VPNs interfere with that detection, below. First, let’s take a look at our list of the five best VPNs for MLB.

Best VPNs for MLB: Summary

BestVPN Editor's Choice Award
ExpressVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Special Deal: Save 49% Today!
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Can be loaded onto computers, mobile devices, routers, and set top boxes
  • Fast speeds
  • Automatic WiFi protection
  • Strong security
CONS:
  • Simultaneous connection allowance is only three

ExpressVPN includes servers in the United States in its network of locations in 94 countries. Its US servers are located in 13 major cities, so you should be able to find the right server location for you. Remember to log in to a server that isn't in the territory of your favorite team, or the team it is scheduled to play against.

The service has very good speeds, which will keep the live stream of MLB running without pauses or stutters. The VPN app can be loaded onto mobile devices that run iOS or Android. ExpressVPN implements automatic WiFi protection, so you can keep watching the game while you are out. The customer support team is very knowledgeable and is available around the clock via live chat.

Special Deal: Save 49% Today!

Visit ExpressVPN »30-day money-back guarantee

#2 Best VPNs for MLB: VyprVPN

VyprVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Three-day free trial
  • Eight server locations in the US
  • Good speeds
  • Apps for mobile devices, computers, and routers
  • Automatic WiFi protection
CONS:
  • No refund period after the free trial

VyprVPN also has a good choice of US server locations. There are servers in eight major cities. If you go abroad for work, you'll still be able to get access through any of the US servers, because VyprVPN is very good at avoiding detection by the regional restriction systems on streaming servers.

This VPN is good for mobile devices as well as computers, and it can be loaded onto routers. VyprVPN has fast speeds and includes automatic WiFi protection, so you can protect yourself against hackers when you watch a game on a WiFi hotspot connection.

#3 Best VPNs for MLB: IPVanish

IPVanish Homepage
PROS:
  • Seven-day money-back guarantee
  • Servers in 60 countries, including 433 in the United States
  • Good speeds
  • Gets into Netflix
  • Automatic WiFi protection
CONS:
  • Customer support is slow

IPVanish is American owned and run. This factor worries privacy experts because it makes the service vulnerable to legal action. However, the problems of copyright infringement won't be an issue for you when you connect to your MLB account. This VPN offers a great service in the US, with a total of 433 servers available, distributed through 14 cities.

When you're tired of watching the game, you can use this VPN for plenty of other activities, including watching movies and shows on other streaming services. Like ExpressVPN, this VPN can get around the proxy detection systems of Netflix.

#4 Best VPNs for MLB: Buffered

Buffered Homepage
PROS:
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Allowance of five simultaneous connections
  • Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS
  • Three server locations in the US
  • Good speeds
CONS:
  • Can't get into all streaming services

Buffered has servers in 37 countries, including the US. The server list includes three locations in the US and one in Canada. This VPN company is based in Gibraltar, so its service quality is particularly good in Europe. This would be a good service to choose if you have a subscription to a European MLB service through Fox or ESPN.

The app is very easy to use. Its slim design fits well onto mobile phones. If you access it from a PC or laptop, the client interface looks exactly the same as it does in the mobile version. You can also install this VPN on a router. You are allowed to connect five devices to the VPN simultaneously with Buffered.

#5 Best VPNs for MLB: VPNArea

VPNArea Homepage
PROS:
  • Seven-day money-back guarantee
  • No logs
  • Specialized servers for streaming, gaming and torrenting
  • Allowance of six simultaneous connections
  • Servers in 13 US cities and 68 countries
CONS:
  • Live chat for support not available 24/7

VPNArea gives you an allowance of six simultaneous connections, so you can bring down the cost of running the VPN by sharing an account with friends. The server network of this company has a presence in 68 countries. There are 42 servers in VPNArea's US network. These are located in 13 major cities, which gives you plenty of choice when you want to dodge home team blackouts.

VPNArea is one of the best VPNs in the world for getting around the Great Firewall of China. It matches ExpressVPN's performance in this respect. If you find yourself in China, you'll have no problem getting through to banned websites and services, such as Facebook, if you subscribe to VPNArea. This is also a good VPN for those who like to download copyrighted material with torrents or play online games because it operates servers that are optimized for those activities.

VPNs for Major League Baseball: Considerations

Free MLB Streaming Services

A free streaming service that shows live MLB games would avoid MLB blackouts. It also wouldn’t matter if some other broadcaster had the rights to show a particular game live. Furthermore, free live baseball streaming services could save you a lot of money.

The free streaming services that show MLB games live seem too good to be true. You can find a list of them on Reddit or Google. One example is MLBStream.me. This site attracts a lot of traffic, but probably doesn’t have many repeat visitors.

mlbstream.me

When you select a game to watch, the system prompts you to register to continue. The registration process is free. However, each time I’ve tested it, I didn’t get into a game. The site forwards you to a different video streaming service each time – none of them showing sports. On one occasion, I was forwarded to a betting website. Another time, I was asked to complete a form that required my credit card details – “just for identification purposes,” of course!

Another example is Strikeout.me. This website is remarkably similar to MLBStream.me. The owners and designers of Strikeout.me believe that sharing is caring. However, what they’re sharing is malware.

strikeout.me

Clicking on a game on this site will get you into trouble. The website tries to force you to download malware. Every attempt to cancel the download results in an install prompt for another piece of malware. Your browser will go full screen, removing all control buttons. You’ll be trapped in a loop until you go to Task Manager and kill your browser process.

Malware downloads from the Strikeout websiteIt is better to avoid these “free” MLB streaming services – they’re all scams.

How MLB Blackouts Work

When you enter an address in your browser, the browser sends a request for a page to the host of that website. In the case of the MLB live streaming service, the page that is returned contains programming code that repeatedly pulls in more frames of video from the MLB server. This is how a video for a movie is delivered to your computer over the internet. The procedures to get a live stream sent are pretty much the same.

The request for a video stream has to include a return address, or the MLB computer won’t know where to send the stream. This is how the MLB can impose blackouts. Before starting a streaming connection, the MLB server checks the return address on the request. An internet address has to be unique, so each is allocated to one person or company. The location of the address can be identified. As such, if the request comes from a blackout location, the server sends a notice message instead of the stream.

This method works equally well to forbid access to people overseas. You might have heard that Sling TV shows all of the games that Fox has the rights to and imagine that this could be a good way to see games that are blocked on the MLB site. This would be a successful strategy to get around the game territory blackouts of MLB, or the blackouts on the MLB site that are imposed when Fox is showing a game. However, this plan won’t work to get you access to games that are blocked out when ESPN is showing them, and it won’t get you access to live streams for MLB games if you go abroad. Sling TV imposes restrictions on overseas access as well.

VPNs for MLB

A Virtual Private Network covers up your true location, so the MLB server cannot know where you are. The VPN server provides a return address for a location that is allowed access. Thus it defeats the ban. Unfortunately, you can’t just put any old address on your requests to the MLB computer. The address has to be a real one that will get the video stream delivered to you.

How Does a VPN for MLB Work?

The VPN stands between your computer and the MLB server. This type of configuration is called a proxy. The word “proxy” means “stand in” or “representative.” All of the internet traffic that leaves your computer gets diverted to a designated VPN server, no matter which site the message was originally intended to reach.

When you sign up for a VPN service, you have to download a small program, called a “client” onto your computer. This program intercepts all of your internet traffic, both outgoing and incoming. It ensures that all of your communications travel through the VPN server instead of going direct. You may have heard about proxy servers. A VPN is a type of proxy service, but it is a little more sophisticated. The VPN encrypts all of the messages you send to the MLB to request a live stream. Your encrypted messages are carried in structures that are addressed to the VPN server.

The VPN server decrypts the arriving messages and sends them on to the MLB server. It puts its own address as the location that the video stream should be sent to. Before you turn the VPN on, you have to select a server location in the client interface. You should select a server in the US, but not in a home territory of either of the teams playing in the game you want to watch.

When the VPN server receives the video stream back, it immediately sends that code on to your computer. While the VPN is turned on, all incoming messages are intercepted by the VPN client. It decrypts the code for the video stream and sends it on to your browser.

Can an MLB VPN Beat Throttling?

The VPN hides the true address of the destination of your connections to the MLB server. This gives you an added bonus. Chances are that you’ve found the live MLB stream to be slow – sometimes pausing, stuttering, or freezing. This is not the fault of the MLB computer. This is the result of “throttling” by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Internet companies don’t like streaming applications because they gobble up bandwidth. This necessitates further investment in infrastructure by the ISP. Thus, your ISP can save a ton of money by passing your connection over a cheaper, slower route.

VPNs defeat ISP throttling because your ISP can’t tell the nature of the traffic that passes through its equipment. The VPN’s encryption hides what you are doing.

This trick will also help you if you have to go abroad for work or vacation. You won’t need to sign up to the local MLB streaming service in the country that you go to. You can continue to benefit from the subscription you took out with the MLB website.

Best MLB VPNs: Conclusion

MLB’s blackout policy is crazy. It cheats you of seeing the games that you paid to see. Thankfully, it’s easy to cut through this madness by installing a VPN. All of our five best VPNs for MLB will help you to enjoy full access to live baseball on the MLB website.

Best VPN for Major League Baseball: Side-by-Side Comparison

Image Credit: Dean Bertonselj/Shutterstock.com

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