Major League Baseball (MLB) is the top tier level of baseball in North America. The franchise has 30 teams: 29 in the United States, and one, Toronto’s Blue Jays, based in Canada. Although it was founded in 1903, the two entities that fall under its umbrella – the American League and the National League – were formed as legally separate organisations in 1901 and 1876 respectively, and continued to operate as such despite agreeing to cooperate under MLB guidance. It was not until 2000 that they formally united as an organisation under the guidance of the Commissioner of Baseball.
However, for organisational purposes and to set up the World Series, MLB is split into two conferences: the American League (AL) and the National League (NL). Each conference is further broken up into three divisions: East, Central, and West, with five teams comprising each group.
Every year, all teams have an opportunity to play in the post-season playoffs and eventually clinch the much-wanted World Series title. The regular MLB season begins late March to early April and concludes in late September to early October. Prior to the season’s opening, every team participates in Spring Training which lasts for about two months, with all teams either based in Arizona (Cactus League) or Florida (Grapefruit League).
Each team plays a whopping 162 games over the course of each season. That is significantly more than the 16 played by NFL teams, and nearly double the 82 played by NBA and NHL teams per campaign.
The post-season playoffs commence either after the last Sunday in September or after the first Sunday in October. Like the NHL and the NBA, the World Series uses a “best of seven” format to decide the winner of the title. Ten teams (five from each conference) get to feature: a winner from each division plus two “wild cards”. At least 26 games – but no more than 46 matches – are played between the start of post-season and its conclusion, which culminates in the World Series being contested between the winner of the American League and the National League.
The world-famous New York Yankees, founded in 1901 as the Baltimore Orioles and playing under the Yankees banner since 1913, are the most decorated side in franchise history. No team has won more titles or participated in more World Series competitions than the Yankees, although it has been a while since they last won their last title.
MLB also manages Minor League Baseball (MiLB) and its 256 teams that act as feeder clubs for the top level. These teams are not only based in the United States and Canada but also spread out throughout Mexico and the Dominican Republic as well.
In the United States, MLB matches are live-streamed online and widely available on-demand, as well as broadcast nationally and regionally on TV. Radio coverage is also widely available for fans, and teams also use their own announcers. Both live streaming and TV coverage are sometimes subject to blackout policies to protect local broadcasters. Spanish language options are available on TV, radio, live streaming, and on-demand for fans across the country depending on region, and Korean is another language offered (in California through the Los Angeles Dodgers)
In Canada, live streaming, TV, on-demand, and radio broadcasts are available in English as well as in French for fans covering the regular season, the playoffs, and of course, the World Series. Blackouts also do occur in order to ensure that local broadcasters’ rights are protected.
MLB.tv, a subscription-based live streaming service, provides fans with full coverage of games as well as other exclusive content on their computers and other mobile devices. However, this service is also subject to blackout restrictions from time to time.
Meanwhile, in the UK and elsewhere internationally, fans can enjoy live streaming of MLB matches and TV coverage on-demand, especially in countries like the Dominican Republic, Guam, Korea, Japan, and Mexico where baseball is one of the most widely followed sports.