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Lower prices for MLB.TV entering home stretch

The last third of the regular season lies ahead, and a third of all Major League Baseball teams will celebrate clinchers along the way to an unpredictable postseason. MLB Advanced Media announced Wednesday it has lowered the yearly cost of MLB.TV Premium to $49.99 and basic MLB.TV to $39.99 in recognition of the dwindling days, and just ask Blue Jays fan Craig Chapman if you want to know why that is invaluable for the home stretch.

This is Chapman's third year as an MLB.TV Premium subscriber. He is 32 and works in I.T. as a systems administrator at a law firm in Toronto. There is obviously a local-market blackout restriction for streaming live Blue Jays games there due to standard MLB television rightsholder contracts, but as a baseball fan, his need for the most prolific live video streaming service on the Internet goes beyond the passion for a home team.

"On top of loving my team, the Toronto Blue Jays, I'm a huge baseball fan," Chapman said in an email to before Toronto's game at Oakland on Tuesday night. "For that reason, MLB.TV is so convenient for me. I use it frequently on my phone as I can keep track of the games while I am on the go. On top of that, I can use Twitter and follow along in the conversation at the same time.

"One such time that MLB.TV was imperative was when I was heading home on July 13. I was sitting on a street car while Tim Lincecum was pitching his no-hitter for the Giants. I saw the whole thing and would have missed history if it wasn't for MLB.TV.

"In addition, I am a fantasy baseball fan. Being able to follow my best fantasy team players live anywhere, even at a Blue Jays game, makes MLB.TV very convenient."

This season, TiVo became the newest of the growing number of ways you can watch live out-of-market games from everywhere. Devices include connected equipment such as include Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3, Apple TV, Roku Player, Samsung TV or Blu-ray Disc Player, LG (Blu-ray or TV), Panasonic (Viera TV or Blu-ray), Boxee, Sony Blu-ray and Western Digital, and mobile means such as iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, Android and BlackBerry Z10.

Subscribers get HD-quality video, thanks to speed detection that delivers high-def on any size monitor. Alternate Audio Options allow you to overlay the home or away team's radio broadcasts over live video feeds or use the "Park" option to enjoy the ballpark's natural sounds. Pause and rewind or fast-forward live games. Use Clickable Linescores to go directly to any at-bat or half-inning of a game. Watch up to four games simultaneously.

Take advantage of Picture-in-Picture to choose one game and track another or watch in-game highlights simultaneously in a secondary window. Track the location, type and speed of every pitch. View real-time highlights and player stats that automatically load into the media player, instantly launching a Picture-in-Picture window with one click. Customize a list to feature entire fantasy rosters and receive on-deck notifications to watch live look-ins for each player.

If you sign up for MLB.TV Premium, you will receive an exclusive offer for a subscription to At Bat 13, the top sports app of all-time. This offer is only available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android smartphones and tablets. At Bat 13 is part of the suite of apps from the award-winning MLBAM mobile-development team that also includes At the Ballpark, Beat the Streak Presented by Dunkin' Donuts, and Home Run Derby -- which surpassed the million-download mark last Friday.

Millions of fans, players and their families subscribe to MLB.TV, now in its 11th season as the pioneering sports technology. Yes, it is famously conducive to the displaced fan like Jeff Rubenstein of San Francisco, who tweeted about his beloved Phillies before they snapped their losing streak Tuesday: "The new MLB.TV interface on [Sony] PS3 is great, but I found a bug where it no longer allows the Phillies to win. Please patch ASAP." Still, there are many reasons as well for fans who live in their team's markets.

For starters, the standings matter more every day, and these days there is a second Wild Card entry allowed per league. There are division and Wild Card battles that won't shake out until the final week, and MLB.TV is the modern way to scoreboard-watch. The Trade Deadline maneuvering means there will be opportunities to see many players in new places, and September will bring the annual expansion of rosters that turns MLB.TV into a perfect prospect-tracking tool.

"I subscribe because there is no better sport than baseball," Chapman said. "While it is unfortunate that my games are blacked out, I am lucky that the rest are all televised so I do not miss any. I subscribe, because I -- like many others -- love the game.

"While watching the Blue Jays is still my favorite thing to do, I am a baseball fan at heart. I like following the game play in the National League and seeing the different strategies. I like seeing games in tight division races and, most of all, I love watching the Yankees lose."

Chapman's Blue Jays have not lived up to their billing in 2013, but he advised fans that a third of a regular season remaining is plenty of time to get the most out of MLB.TV.

"This season has been incredible," he said. "Despite the fact that the Blue Jays failed to meet expectations, there have been tight divisional races and incredible prospects called up. No one expected the years Yasiel Puig, Patrick Corbin, Brandon Barnes, Matt Harvey or Shelby Miller are having. That has been great to watch. Fantastic baseball.

"Plus, I can't wait to see how the AL East and NL Central finishes -- such tight baseball. I honestly cannot wait until playoff baseball is here. There's nothing better."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog.