Atlanta United’s 2021 season is almost here. While the focus of this year will be about when fans can return to some normalcy and attend matches in-person, the fact is we all will have to find a way to watch the Five Stripes at home as some point. That mission has become increasingly difficult over the past 12 months. In this post, our goal is to lay out every single option you have to watch this team either on TV or online.
Understanding in-market and out-of-market
Before listing all of your options, there are two categories you must figure out which you belong to. Your location in the world will decide the viewing options available to you. If you live in Georgia or some various surrounding areas, you are considered an in-market viewer. There are no black and white distinctions for out-of-state fans, but it stands to reason, the closer to Atlanta you are, the better your chances of being considered in-market. It’s something you’ll have to figure out by trial and error. If you are considered an in-market viewer, you are subject to local blackouts.
If you reside outside of these areas, you are an out-of-market viewer.
Regional Sports Networks (RSN) and Local TV
Atlanta United’s TV contract is with FOX Sports South, which we will henceforth refer to as Bally Sports South after their recent rebranding. Every non-national TV broadcast for the 2021 season will be broadcast on Bally Sports South or Bally Sports Southeast.
Most major cable and satellite providers within the in-market viewing area carry both channels. DirecTV is your satellite option with Dish Network dropping Bally Sports in the past. While Xfinity, Spectrum, and AT&T Uverse are your major cable options.
These outlets carry most, if not all, of the national channels (ESPN, FS1, Univision) that will carry Atlanta United matches as well.
The unfortunate truth for in-market viewers who have cut the cord and rely solely on streaming services is that there is now only one legal option. After having agreements with several of the top streaming services expire, Sinclair Broadcast Group (Bally Sports’ owner) only have a deal with AT&T’s streaming service AT&T Now. The $85/month package is required to gain access to the Bally Sports channels.
For out-of-market viewers, the options are much more simple, accessible, and affordable. All matches shown on the RSN’s will be available via ESPN’s over-the-top streaming service ESPN+. Their agreement with MLS allows it to stream every out-of-market match in the entire league. The price of $5.99/month really can’t be beat either.
The bitter pill for in-market cord-cutters to swallow is that ESPN+ is blacked out thanks to local blackout rules. Fans have found certain workarounds for this dilemma, but they aren’t exactly ethical or 100% reliable.
As the prices for over-the-top streaming services continue to go up and up, the idea of a basic cable package starts to look more appealing. If you can get access to the Bally Sports channels in addition to all the channels showing national TV matches for a rate lower than $100/month then it’s definitely something to consider in the current landscape for in-market viewers.
For out-of-market, it’s pretty simple. ESPN+ is a must-have. Not only do you get every out-of-market Atlanta United match but you get tons of other soccer and sports in addition. Combine that with either your existing cable or streaming subscription and you’re set.
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