Play ball! Opening day of the 2018 Major League Baseball season takes place on Thursday, March 29, and the schedule calls for all 30 teams to be in action.
The 15 games will be staggered throughout opening day, starting with the Chicago Cubs vs. the Miami Marlins, with the first pitch scheduled a little after 12:30 p.m. ET. Among the most highly anticipated games for opening day, the 2017 World Series-champion Houston Astros face in-state rivals Texas Rangers starting at 3:35 p.m. ET, while first pitch for the New York Yankees-Toronto Blue Jays game officially starts two minutes later.
On the West Coast, the San Francisco Giants play the Los Angeles Dodgers at 7:08 p.m. ET, and the Seattle Mariners host the Cleveland Indians starting at 10:10 p.m ET. Check the section below for the opening day TV schedule. Note that broadcast times start a little earlier than the first pitch.
Facebook will be streaming 25 MLB games for free throughout the season, including opening day, and local Fox stations will have free national broadcasts of some Saturday games later in the year. But this year’s opening day games are being aired only on pay TV channels and through subscription-based live-streaming services. Even so, there are ways to watch baseball online for free—on opening day and beyond.
How to Watch MLB Opening Day Games on ESPN
Throughout most of the country, ESPN will be broadcasting four opening day games starting at the following times:
- Chicago Cubs at Miami Marlins: 12:30 p.m. ET
- Houston Astros at Texas Rangers: 3:30 p.m. ET
- San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers: 7 p.m. ET
- Cleveland Indians at Seattle Mariners: 10 p.m. ET
If you are a satellite or cable subscriber, all you have to do to watch opening day is find ESPN on your TV. If you do not have a pay TV package with ESPN, you can watch ESPN online through streaming TV services such as Hulu Live, Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Playstation Vue, and YouTube TV. Basic packages for each of these services include ESPN, and monthly costs range from $20 to $40—after a free trial period of about a week. Just be sure to cancel before the trial period ends if you don’t want to become a paid subscriber.
How to Watch MLB Opening Day Games That Are Not on ESPN
In some cases, there are regional blackouts on ESPN’s MLB coverage because a local sports pay channel has the broadcasting rights. The streaming services cited above may have access to these channels, but they sometimes cost extra beyond the base package price.
If you’re a big sports fan and you don’t want to pay for cable, check out Fubo TV. It’s a sports-focused streaming service with over 75 channels, including local sports channels that broadcast games if you live in the area for 21 MLB teams such as the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Kansas City Royals.
Fubo TV streaming packages start at $19.99 per month, and there is a free seven-day trial period. Take note that after the first month at the $19.99 rate, the monthly fee goes up to $44.99.
Finally, there’s Major League Baseball’s streaming service, MLB TV. If you primarily want to watch your local baseball team, then this service is NOT for you: Packages only allow the streaming of out-of-market games. On the other hand, if you moved away from your beloved team, you somehow became a fan of a team in another part of the country, or you simply love watching lots of baseball in general, MLB TV’s streaming packages could be just the ticket.
MLB TV packages cost $89.99 for streaming an entire season’s games for one out-of-market team, or either $24.99 monthly or $115.99 annually for streaming every out-of-market regular season game live or on demand. Even with these packages, however, there are sometimes blackouts—like when a game is broadcast nationally on ESPN, Fox, or another network.