How to watch the Cubs tonight if you don't have cable
Steve Vasilion of Batavia is a third-generation Cubs fan, and he's eager, of course, to watch them in the playoffs.
But he found himself frustrated when he could not watch the wild-card game on his iPad or iPhone.
Like many of us, he no longer has a cable television subscription, deeming the monthly bill too high for what he was getting and watching. Instead, he watched the Cubs all season on his home TV with an over-the-air antenna when they were on WGN. He also watched using a subscription to Major League Baseball's regular season TV plan, via his PC when they were on pay TV. He got around market blackout restrictions for live broadcasts by using a West Coast- or United Kingdom-based IP address.
But when he tried to use MLB's most basic postseason plan on his iPad, he couldn't. Apple products require users to have "location services" turned on to use the subscription, he said. In essence, his tablet ratted him out.
"The frustration is Chicagoans, myself included, have been spoiled by a lifetime of access to free games by WGN," Vasilion said.
TBS owns broadcast rights for the first three rounds of the playoff.
So how does someone who doesn't have cable or satellite television watch Saturday's game, in real time, legally, short of going to the local bar?
Get out a credit card and then Google "over-the-top television."
Basically, some pay TV channels offer content without customers having to subscribe to cable.
Try Sling TV. For $20 a month, you can watch 23 channels live -- including TBS -- on your TV, computer, tablet, smartphone, and it works with Nexus and Xbox. You sign up, then download the application to your computer and to your phone. For more money, you get more channels.
Sling TV is available with Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Google Chromecast subscriptions. The devices necessary to use these services can be purchased at stores like Best Buy.
Or you wait
Maybe you have pay TV, but you are stuck at the office and want to watch the games on your tablet or computer. So you buy the $9.99 MLB.TV postseason online subscription package. But you can get it only if you subscribe to certain pay-TV providers. And there are blackout restrictions, meaning the game might not be available to you until 90 minutes after the final out.
Now, if the Cubs make it to the World Series, everyone can watch for "free." Fox has the rights for those games and will broadcast them on its over-the-air network. You will be able to see the games if you hook up your old rooftop antenna, an attic antenna or a set-top antenna.
Or if money is no object, there is always the option of subscribing, or resubscribing, to cable or satellite service.
However, representatives of two service providers -- DISH Network and Comcast -- could not guarantee how fast that could be set up, even if you already have a cable line or a satellite dish in place.
"Prices and turnaround can vary," said Emily O'Donnell, a spokesman for DISH Network.