Gradually, live sports are coming to set-top boxes and game consoles. The latest is the National Hockey League, whose Gamecenter Live service for out-of-market games is now available on Playstation 3 and Roku.
The app is free for Roku users and costs $10 on the PS3, but it’s free to subscribers of Playstation Plus, Sony’s premium online service. The actual Gamecenter subscription costs $21 per month or $169 per year. (Weird. The NHL regular season ends in April and playoffs run into June, which is seven months from now. Unless I’m missing something, not sure why you’d pay a higher price for the entire year at once.)
It’s exciting news even if you don’t like hockey. In embracing the web video set-top box, the MLB and NHL are taking big steps towards liberating television content from cable. So far, they show no qualms about putting their games on the web, making them accessible on actual televisions and selling them for less than the cost of their cable-based league passes.
Neither MLB.TV nor NHL Gamecenter Live are perfect for cable cutters. The out-of-market limitation will turn off anyone whose favorite team plays nearby, and the price equates to more than two Netflix subscriptions, while offering a narrower type of content. You really have to like sports to make either subscription worthwhile.
But it’s a start, and for sports junkies who live far from their favorite teams, it’s a blessing. With the NBA already offering its games online in web browsers, the next major sport may not be far behind in joining the MLB and NHL on set-top boxes.