Let`s talk about the reality of the popularity of sports on TV in the real world, not on social media. As I`ve reported in the past, research from Wizer, a marketing research company, has shown that 21.6% of pay-TV subscribers watch ESPN regularly. This leaves a significant portion of them who don`t. Sports fans remain an enthusiastic and noisy minority, but even people who fall into these categories have budgets. They are two commissioners from the three major sports leagues that rely on regional sports networks. Most RSNs only broadcast MLB, NBA and NHL live. They will show the NFL and some NCAA games later, but not usually live. Manfred and Silver are partners with Sinclair, and if they don`t think it`s going to work, that`s a big problem. Bob, as you know, Hulu Live and YouTube TV have missed Bally Sports` 19 regional sports channels since last fall due to separate carriage fights. So it would definitely be easier (and cheaper) for cable cutters to get their bally sports channel with their basic package on Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Sling TV or FuboTV. This is what cable and satellite services have been doing for years. They include the RSN in the package, although they charge a regional sports fee of about $10 per month. However, NSRs are quite necessary.
National sports channels are not able to broadcast all NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL games. And with a lot of live TV appearances, it`s even harder to allow games only in certain areas, like the NFL does every Sunday on Fox and CBS. But in the short term, sports fans continue to suffer. Dish has 8 million subscribers, as many as Hulu and YouTube TV combined. And the failure of negotiations between Dish and Sinclair could be a sign of even more disruption in the business of introducing sports to television. Recently, Sinclair struck a deal with Dish to port Sinclair Locals and Tennis Channel, but RSNs were excluded. Ripley addressed negotiations with Dish at the conference, making it clear that he was pleased that there was no service disruption for Dish`s customers, according to the Next TV report. If you`re wondering why you still can`t stream local sports without cables at a reasonable price, imagine a child who is afraid to rip off their own patch. As far as we know, no, and that`s bad news if you`re hoping for an imminent solution. Hulu Live and YouTube TV eliminated regional sports channels throughout the 2020-2021 NBA season and the first 10 weeks of the 2021 MLB season. It`s likely that most Hulu or YouTube TV sports fans who would have discontinued their service due to the absence of Bally Sports channels would have already done so, at least in the markets where the channels are available. So there`s less pressure on Hulu and YouTube TV to strike a deal now.
Much of the consternation over operators` lack of regional sports channels has focused on streaming options. One by one, platforms like Sling, YouTube TV, and Hulu have abandoned Sinclair-owned RSNs in recent years, impacting local viewers in many markets. Silver explained: “At the moment, the (cable) harness is clearly broken. I mean, we`re now seeing a problem that`s very topical right now, our regional sports networks, especially Sinclair, and we`re trying to work with them on these issues. Silver also noted that the NBA`s younger population has declined by 70 percent. It`s probably everyone who is streaming TV these days and can`t watch anything but prime-time games because of Sinclair`s greed. Yes, I understand. Sport is expensive. These contracts are incredibly expensive.
That`s why Sling TV is much cheaper than YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV and Fubo TV. In fact, that`s less than half the price. That`s because it doesn`t offer many sports. Only ESPN and Fox Sports (not just the regional networks, FS1 and FS2). Since young viewers are known to be interested in highlights and game clips, leagues and new media companies have tried to attract a younger audience by creating opportunities to make the sport shorter and more interactive. Buzzer with the integration of the NBA League Pass, which was introduced earlier this year and allows fans to watch games or moments and interact with friends. The most important thing to remember from all this is that the callers of the sports store are finally thinking about what was once unthinkable: stop tying regional sports channels to standard TV packages and let viewers buy them on a standalone basis or as part of a more expensive package. So we come back to the metaphor of plaster.
Sports leagues, sports networks and TV rental companies have the choice between a tortuous haemorrhage for regional sports – in which they lose not only money but also their audience – or a painful break with the status quo. Only the latter gives them a chance to heal properly. Sure, that won`t happen — according to the New York Post, Sinclair is aiming for a price of $23 a month — but it illustrates the financial challenges of making the sport available à la carte. Even Sinclair`s own investor pitch only predicts long-term revenue of $2 billion a year from streaming, and that includes other revenue streams like advertising and gambling. The second is that this unbundling causes the same cable companies to hastily abandon Sinclair`s regional sports networks, destroying an important source of revenue. What happens then? That $23 monthly price is likely to become something heavier. The situation of regional sports is different from that of most television genres, where networks have been able to build parallel universes of content that are part of what they offer on cable. With local coverage from the NBA, MLB and NHL, all that really matters is whether fans can watch the games.
As sports shift to streaming, fan interaction and gambling are becoming increasingly important for digital content. At the end of the rebranding under casino owner Bally`s, Sinclair is ready to launch its first gaming-focused product, “Watch and Play,” which will focus on tennis. Excerpt from the next TV report on the conference: Nevertheless, the alternative is not necessarily better. Major cable and satellite providers lost a total of 6 million subscribers last year, and S&P Global expects these companies to lose 8.2 percent of their remaining subscriber base this year, followed by 10.3 percent in 2022. While some of these cord cutters might instead record live TV streaming services like YouTube TV or Hulu+ Live TV, many of them will abandon regional sports networks in the process. (Both services broadcast NBC Sports regional networks, but not others, like Bally Sports.) “As far as Fubo is concerned, I think if you look at what they do, I don`t have a particular insight into their company, but (they) try different business models that you can see. And so I wouldn`t be surprised if (Fubo) took more RSN (regional sports networks),” Ripley said earlier this year. Sinclair is already heavily indebted with this purchase of Bally Sports.
About $8 billion in debt out of a $9.6 billion purchase. Of course, the fact that there is almost no more sport in 2020 didn`t help Sinclair there. And in 2020, Sinclair actually reported a loss of $3.2 billion in the third quarter. These NSRs have only weakened because they are not growing up and most young people are unable to observe them. Members of the sports television industry – including leagues, networks and TV package providers – were afraid to death of changing the way they distribute coverage among local teams. They have remained true to the status quo, even as, quarter after quarter, more and more people are fleeing their traditional pay-TV packages, leaving behind fewer non-sports fans to pay for expensive sports fees. Cord cutters in the area, rejoice. Bally Sports, owner of Bally Sports Great Lakes and Bally Sports Ohio, has announced plans to launch the standalone unicorn app to stream its various sports live in 2022. Those who subscribe to live TV streaming services like YouTube TV (in the interest of full disclosure, I`ll use this one) or Hulu with live TV have been living in a live sports desert since last fall — no Cleveland Baseball, no Basketball Cavs — because these companies felt the costs associated with Bally Sports channels would further reduce profit margins. Whether it`s Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Sling TV, or FuboTV, streamers` profit margins are so thin that it`s hard for them to justify paying regional sports channels that charge more than most channels. (DIRECTV Stream is able to do this by charging $90 per month, starting January 23, 2022, for its most popular plan with RSNs.) Streamers try to keep their base prices as low as possible to attract cord cutters. .