Warner Bros. Discovery tells teams it is leaving RSN business

soxhop411

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Warner Bros. Discovery has told teams that it plans to exit the regional sports network business entirely within the next several weeks.

The company, which operates three AT&T SportsNet-branded channels in Denver, Houston and Pittsburgh and has a minority stake in the Root Sports channel in Seattle, has told teams that they have until March 31 to reach an agreement to take their rights back. If the RSNs can’t reach deals with the teams, the channels eventually plan to move forward with a Chapter 7 liquidation filing.

In a statement provided to SBJ, WBD said, “AT&T SportsNet is not immune to the well-known challenges that the entire RSN industry is facing. We will continue to engage in private conversations with our partners as we seek to identify reasonable and constructive solutions.”

WBD sent letters to the leagues and teams this afternoon informing them of their plans to divest their interest in those four RSNs.

WBD has rights deals with 10 teams across those four networks: four MLB teams (Astros, Mariners, Pirates, Rockies), three NBA teams (Blazers, Jazz, Rockets) and three NHL teams (Kraken, Penguins, Golden Knights).

The moves come at a fraught time for WBD, which has been trying to get out of the RSN business for a while.

Over the past several months, league sources privately have praised WBD Sports’ RSN leadership, led by AT&T SportsNet President Patrick Crumb, for working with the teams to come up with a plan that would enable the company to get out of the RSN business.

In the letters, WBD said that it will allow the teams to use the same production staff and equipment to continue producing the games.

With WBD trying to extend its NBA package past 2024-25 -- as competitors like Amazon, Apple and NBC are emerging -- it's important for WBD to not ruffle feathers in the league office as it disentangles its interest in the RSNs.

Its RSNs hold the rights to three NBA teams -- the Blazers, Jazz and Rockets -- and it’s too early to determine how this move will affect them.
It seems like hte RSN Bubble might be Close to bursting... this + the issues with Bally Sports.... Hopefully this is what is needed to kickstart league run streaming packages (and no blackouts)
https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Daily/Closing-Bell/2023/02/24/rsn-breaking-news.aspx
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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There already is a league run streaming package, isn’t there? If the hope is that you can watch NESN in market without paying for cable or the direct to consumer sub fee, I think you should be careful what you wish for - it would be pretty detrimental to the Red Sox revenue streams.

Would teams like the A’s even bother broadcasting games if they couldn’t bank on X # of subs? Maybe that’s a good thing but I think the “hooray no blackouts” euphoria would quickly subside when we see the other impacts.
 

bsj

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I just want a way. ANY way. To watch NESN out of area. Not just the games. But the pre game. The post game. The halftime shows as appropriate. Does this get me any closer to that? prob not but can hope.
 

NortheasternPJ

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There already is a league run streaming package, isn’t there? If the hope is that you can watch NESN in market without paying for cable or the direct to consumer sub fee, I think you should be careful what you wish for - it would be pretty detrimental to the Red Sox revenue streams.

Would teams like the A’s even bother broadcasting games if they couldn’t bank on X # of subs? Maybe that’s a good thing but I think the “hooray no blackouts” euphoria would quickly subside when we see the other impacts.
It’s detrimental to all teams who have broadcast packages and one of the largest areas of ripping off consumers. There’s no reason why in 2023 everyone in New England who has cable should pay for NESN. It’s a legacy model and teams need to adjust. There’s a reason YouTube and others told them to pound sand and it’s not unique to the RSNs . The regional channel model seems to be going away. Can MLB survive without a significant income hit and have to rely on only the people that watch the product to pay for it? We will see.
 

jtn46

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I just want a way. ANY way. To watch NESN out of area. Not just the games. But the pre game. The post game. The halftime shows as appropriate. Does this get me any closer to that? prob not but can hope.
MLB.tv has pre and post now for NESN among others.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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It’s detrimental to all teams who have broadcast packages and one of the largest areas of ripping off consumers. There’s no reason why in 2023 everyone in New England who has cable should pay for NESN. It’s a legacy model and teams need to adjust. There’s a reason YouTube and others told them to pound sand and it’s not unique to the RSNs . The regional channel model seems to be going away. Can MLB survive without a significant income hit and have to rely on only the people that watch the product to pay for it? We will see.
Oh sure- but be ready for an insanely expensive product- like it was when NESN went DTC- or for the team to lose any kind of competitive advantage it has, or probably both. A world where only people who want NESN pay for it (which used to be the case) is a world where the Red Sox have much less revenue and thus spend much less on payroll. Sure it would happen to every team but the Sox have a lot more to lose than most.
 

bsj

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MLB.tv has pre and post now for NESN among others.
Does it? I'll check that out. That being said, I just want to have all of NESN. I want access to the random weekly stuff too. I'm also speaking to NBC Sports Boston. Why can't I watch the folks in studio talk about the game instead of some bozo doing somersaults at halftime?
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Does it? I'll check that out. That being said, I just want to have all of NESN. I want access to the random weekly stuff too.
If the RSN bubble bursts, I can’t imagine they would produce much other than the live game and maybe a pre and post.
 

Preacher

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Does it? I'll check that out. That being said, I just want to have all of NESN. I want access to the random weekly stuff too. I'm also speaking to NBC Sports Boston. Why can't I watch the folks in studio talk about the game instead of some bozo doing somersaults at halftime?
Full time NESN probably just means a lot of Charlie Moore when sports aren’t on. That’s just my guess. I also don’t have NESN.
 

Max Power

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Does it? I'll check that out. That being said, I just want to have all of NESN. I want access to the random weekly stuff too. I'm also speaking to NBC Sports Boston. Why can't I watch the folks in studio talk about the game instead of some bozo doing somersaults at halftime?
Do you have to be in New England to subscribe to NESN 360? That gives you the live channel all the time.
 

smokin joe wood

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Streaming and out-of-market league-wide deals are one thing... MLB's audience is older and hyper local, these teams need to find a way to distribute their games locally and over the air. Outside of the NFL, streaming-only/OTT-only platforms have not been viable. I would expect deals to be discussed with local affiliates and channels like the CW in a lot of markets.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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Streaming and out-of-market league-wide deals are one thing... MLB's audience is older and hyper local, these teams need to find a way to distribute their games locally and over the air. Outside of the NFL, streaming-only/OTT-only platforms have not been viable. I would expect deals to be discussed with local affiliates and channels like the CW in a lot of markets.
It would be kind of funny to see things come full circle with local broadcast games returning to local broadcast TV channels after all this time. I miss WSBK!
 

cornwalls@6

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I just got whacked with a 14.00/month increase from FUBO, all for RSN fees. Largely, if I understand it correctly, for RSNs outside of New England. I'm now at 90.00/month, when I started with them at around 60.00/per when I dumped YoutubeTV for them a couple of years ago. Don't know the business well enough to know to what degree the failures of these RSNs is driving the increase, but I'm sick of their shit. Investigating any avenues to be able to stream ESPN, FS1, Turner, and the network affiliates, and then combine that with the NESN streaming app. And see if comes in any cheaper than what I am now paying FUBO. Couldn't really care less about NBCSports Boston.
 

j-man

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I just want a way. ANY way. To watch NESN out of area. Not just the games. But the pre game. The post game. The halftime shows as appropriate. Does this get me any closer to that? prob not but can hope.
get direct tv they have nesn i can see everything but live games
and nbc sports boston too
 

Tito's Pullover

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get direct tv they have nesn i can see everything but live games
and nbc sports boston too
I'd be happy to be proven wrong but among everything I've considered, DirecTV is the only single service with both NESN and NBC Boston - and I'm even in market. I moved to DTV when YouTube dropped NESN (the stream quality itself has also been a lot better). I still would love a cheaper option.
 

Cotillion

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Unless everyone that doesn't want to watch it is subsidizing it, the regional sports networks are not going to have cheaper options.
 

Mugsy's Jock

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It’s detrimental to all teams who have broadcast packages and one of the largest areas of ripping off consumers. There’s no reason why in 2023 everyone in New England who has cable should pay for NESN. It’s a legacy model and teams need to adjust. There’s a reason YouTube and others told them to pound sand and it’s not unique to the RSNs . The regional channel model seems to be going away. Can MLB survive without a significant income hit and have to rely on only the people that watch the product to pay for it? We will see.
Yes and no re: the bundle ripping off customers. Is it objectively obvious that it sucks for somebody with no interest in sports to have to pay $15/month to access NESN and ESPN? Sure… and it also sucks for someone with no interest in Viacom’s networks to have to pay about $10/month for those. Or someone without kids paying $6/month for Disney Channel. And while a fan of both sports and entertainment and news is probably delighted with the $12/month they’re paying for TBS/TNT/CNN, anyone who doesn’t love all three isnt happy. It sickens me I pay a few bucks a month to Fox News.

(Note - some of the pricing above is out of date, but you get the idea)

Except in the end, no one is getting ripped off. In sum, the bundle was, is, and will be a better deal for everyone than the individual parts. Because a lot of those cable products won’t continue to exist without the bundle, or if they do it’ll be at prices much higher than imagined.

If the Red Sox want to approach current revenue, which is $10/month (or whatever) 12 month/year from 100% of the cable footprint, plus the ad revenue that footprint makes possible, they’ll need to jack up prices 10x anticipating many in the footprint will drop the service, Sox-only and Bruins-only fans may keep it for only 6 months/year (maybe less if the teams aren’t competitive). Which they can’t…so revenue will go down. And not that I pity John Henry and his fellow oligarchs, but it’s not reasonable to assume/insist they make significantly less money, so investment in the team and in Fenway will shrink.

Dont mean to call you out for your thoughtful post @NortheasternPJ , but the whole “I only want to pay for what I want” cry is what got set the destruction of the bundle in motion, leading to competing premium services that ultimately offer less choiCE, or at best much higher cost. If everyone pitches in something for something they don’t want, we all win. (Sounding like Jimmy Stewart fighting off the bank run in It’s a Wonderful Life)

(Yes, I’ve worked the last 40 years or so in basic cable. While I’m far from objective, that doesn’t mean I’m not right)
 
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Vinho Tinto

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(Yes, I’ve worked the last 40 years or so in basic cable. While I’m far from objective, that doesn’t mean I’m not right)
I don't want to subsidize any of that crap at the tune of $200+ per month. I know people who pay that for cable/internet/phone bundle. I'm paying a little over 2/3rds of that per month, with most of my bill due to cable ISP. I don't care if the system collapses if the system is porking me for a mediocre product.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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I don't want to subsidize any of that crap at the tune of $200+ per month. I know people who pay that for cable/internet/phone bundle. I'm paying a little over 2/3rds of that per month, with most of my bill due to cable ISP. I don't care if the system collapses if the system is porking me for a mediocre product.
The system collapsing will end with you paying more for less (with products requiring multiple subs to various streaming services), or with things like NESN just not existing. Doesn’t feel like a win.
 

Vinho Tinto

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I don't care if RSNs go away. I was happy with the really old model when teams were on local OTAs. That a league like MLB has expanded by many multiples via cable TV and subsidized public stadiums is not a win for me. There is now financial bloat that they expect the customer to make whole for infinity.

There is currently more content being produced for TV than I have time or desire to view. I will never go back to paying cable's prices. Their hold on me as a ISP customer faces competition as 5G home continues to roll out
 

8slim

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Yes and no re: the bundle ripping off customers. Is it objectively obvious that it sucks for somebody with no interest in sports to have to pay $15/month to access NESN and ESPN? Sure… and it also sucks for someone with no interest in Viacom’s networks to have to pay about $10/month for those. Or someone without kids paying $6/month for Disney Channel. And while a fan of both sports and entertainment and news is probably delighted with the $12/month they’re paying for TBS/TNT/CNN, anyone who doesn’t love all three isnt happy. It sickens me I pay a few bucks a month to Fox News.

(Note - some of the pricing above is out of date, but you get the idea)

Except in the end, no one is getting ripped off. In sum, the bundle was, is, and will be a better deal for everyone than the individual parts. Because a lot of those cable products won’t continue to exist without the bundle, or if they do it’ll be at prices much higher than imagined.

If the Red Sox want to approach current revenue, which is $10/month (or whatever) 12 month/year from 100% of the cable footprint, plus the ad revenue that footprint makes possible, they’ll need to jack up prices 10x anticipating many in the footprint will drop the service, Sox-only and Bruins-only fans may keep it for only 6 months/year (maybe less if the teams aren’t competitive). Which they can’t…so revenue will go down. And not that I pity John Henry and his fellow oligarchs, but it’s not reasonable to assume/insist they make significantly less money, so investment in the team and in Fenway will shrink.

Dont mean to call you out for your thoughtful post @NortheasternPJ , but the whole “I only want to pay for what I want” cry is what got set the destruction of the bundle in motion, leading to competing premium services that ultimately offer less choiCE, or at best much higher cost. If everyone pitches in something for something they don’t want, we all win. (Sounding like Jimmy Stewart fighting off the bank run in It’s a Wonderful Life)

(Yes, I’ve worked the last 40 years or so in basic cable. While I’m far from objective, that doesn’t mean I’m not right)
You get it. And I’m in the same biz.

Its like going to a buffet restaurant. The price is X and you take what you want. People don’t say they want to pay less because they only had the steak and not the lasagna.

That being said, the cable industry owns their horrific customer service and antiquated technology. They sowed the seeds of their own demise. If they had built modern, VOD interfaces 15 years ago when they should have, it’d be a far different story today.
 

8slim

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I don't want to subsidize any of that crap at the tune of $200+ per month. I know people who pay that for cable/internet/phone bundle. I'm paying a little over 2/3rds of that per month, with most of my bill due to cable ISP. I don't care if the system collapses if the system is porking me for a mediocre product.
You’re free not to. And the internet/phone has nothing to do with TV. People still pay that portion when they cut the cord.

The reality is that most people who cut the cord end up spending close to their old cable-only bill for SVOD replacements.
 

Haunted

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The system collapsing will end with you paying more for less (with products requiring multiple subs to various streaming services), or with things like NESN just not existing. Doesn’t feel like a win.
Sure, paying more for multiple subs, but only if you want them all. I think a lot of people - and I do this too - just rotate through different streaming services as content comes and goes. My entertainment bill (including internet service) rotates between $125-150, but several of these services I pay for offer other benefits. Amazon Prime is worth it for the shipping alone. Both my girlfriend and I work remotely and are on Zoom/Teams meetings all day so the internet is vital to our income. I could easily cut down to Amazon Prime, Youtube (the free version, not Red) and Hulu (I get the ad-supported version through my Spotify sub) and suddenly my bill is around $100/month.
 

nattysez

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Isn't the bigger problem here that there is zero chance that MLB/the teams will make as much from broadcasting their own games as they do from selling the rights? I foresee a lot of small market teams either demanding sharing of all broadcast revenue across all teams or a lot of teams lowering their payrolls.

Also, I agree with Petagine - the A's were one of the last teams who still occasionally had radio-only games. Unless MLB or visiting teams pay for the costs of the A's broadcasting their games, I'll bet a number of A's games go untelevised. No one is watching Tigers-A's on a Tuesday in June, and the A's ownership treats the team as a passive investment, nothing more.
 
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Spelunker

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You get it. And I’m in the same biz.

Its like going to a buffet restaurant. The price is X and you take what you want. People don’t say they want to pay less because they only had the steak and not the lasagna.

That being said, the cable industry owns their horrific customer service and antiquated technology. They sowed the seeds of their own demise. If they had built modern, VOD interfaces 15 years ago when they should have, it’d be a far different story today.
I think that's a good analogy, just not for the reasons you think.

Buffets are terrible, the very definition of quantity over quality.
 

MikeS

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(20+ year lurker, first post.)

I have had DirecTV with Sports Pack for many years, and love having all the regional sports networks. IMO it's an incredible value for a displaced sports fan who cares about more than just the biggest leagues. There are lots of great secondary sporting events, plus a lot of the channels give me a connectedness to Boston and different other places where I've been. (I grew up in Boston, but have lived in CA for 20+ years now.). I also don't think streaming is great for most live sports. Channel-flipping and seeing it "as it happens" are the big reasons why, especially since now people get notifications about stuff on their phones.

I am really concerned about the RSNs with the recent Bally news and now this. My questions (particularly for the TV guys who posted earlier in this thread):

- Do the RSNs have any real hope of staying alive, especially if they lose the MLB and NBA teams ?

- Is this trend likely to kill ALL the RSNs sooner than later -- meaning even NESN, YES, MASN, and the other ones that seem to produce more local content that most ??

- If these RSNs start going away, will all of these secondary events and shows disappear from over-the-air TV completely ? At least over-the-air TV that you can get on a national carrier such as DirecTV ?
 

NoXInNixon

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The Cable TV model is dying, and has been dying for some time now, so I hope teams are planning for what's coming next.

I can absolutely see a future for NESN as a standalone streaming service, especially if they can add the Celtics.
 

kenneycb

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Teams don’t need to prep for it so much as the leagues. Obviously it will impact them but the league needs to drive the bus here.
 

8slim

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(20+ year lurker, first post.)

I have had DirecTV with Sports Pack for many years, and love having all the regional sports networks. IMO it's an incredible value for a displaced sports fan who cares about more than just the biggest leagues. There are lots of great secondary sporting events, plus a lot of the channels give me a connectedness to Boston and different other places where I've been. (I grew up in Boston, but have lived in CA for 20+ years now.). I also don't think streaming is great for most live sports. Channel-flipping and seeing it "as it happens" are the big reasons why, especially since now people get notifications about stuff on their phones.

I am really concerned about the RSNs with the recent Bally news and now this. My questions (particularly for the TV guys who posted earlier in this thread):

- Do the RSNs have any real hope of staying alive, especially if they lose the MLB and NBA teams ?

- Is this trend likely to kill ALL the RSNs sooner than later -- meaning even NESN, YES, MASN, and the other ones that seem to produce more local content that most ??

- If these RSNs start going away, will all of these secondary events and shows disappear from over-the-air TV completely ? At least over-the-air TV that you can get on a national carrier such as DirecTV ?
My best guesses on your questions…

1) Long term, probably not. The RSN model just isn’t viable as cable subscriptions drop.

2) No, I think the ones that serve major markets will survive for a while. Largely because the economics will work longer than in smaller markets (partially because core cutting in Boston and NY is less than other areas). But the long term prognosis isn’t good.

3) Many of them, yes. Ratings for pre/post game shows on the RSNs are bad. Anything beyond those shows and ratings are almost zero. Maybe the league or Amazon will throw fans a bone and produce a very cheap pre/post but I imagine that’d be it.
 

smokin joe wood

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Teams don’t need to prep for it so much as the leagues. Obviously it will impact them but the league needs to drive the bus here.
This may be true in the long-term but it is certainly not true in the short term. The leagues affected by Bally/ATT falling apart (MLB, NBA, NHL) have all been paying very close attention to the Apple/MLS situation. It's the dream scenario for the NHL or MLB. I view the NBA a bit differently since they actually still have viable national game appeal.

Manfred's recent comments that MLB will just take production in house if the RSNs fall apart is a lot easier said than done. Dealing with unions, contractors, and hundreds of millions of dollars of equipment in a dozen markets is an incredible challenge.

Producing 2,000 baseball games at MLB-production levels takes soooo much work and planning. I highly doubt MLB can pull it off without a ton of help from the teams and existing infrastructure.

I was told recently that the approx. 30% of the Cincinnati Reds revenue comes from their deal with Bally. This is very much a team problem.
 

kenneycb

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It’s a team problem in the short term but making moves to replicate 30% of revenue next year is probably going to screw you down the road since you’re in no position of power in current negotiations. This is an opportunity for the league to do something drastically different that may be tough in the short-term but sustainable long-term. That said, they need the owners aligned. Given that I’m skeptical they can pull it off.
 

smokin joe wood

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Correct. Neither the teams OR the league are in a good negotiation position.

In terms of MLB doing something drastic - there isn't much interest from networks in airing nationally televised baseball games. And the MLB's core audience is the demo most averse to streaming.
It's telling when leagues with much younger demos (ex. Premier Lacrosse League) are still not committing to Amazon or streaming-only platforms. MLS teams were all losing money on their local deals. That's why Apple made sense for them.
So MLB can take everything in-house but the money for their games is still hyper local and managing that from the MLB office would be a poor decision IMO.
When it comes to live sporting events - the gap is getting much larger between the top 5% of rated events and everything else. Look no further than the resources put into those games.
FOX looks good currently with their approach to buy rights fees for mainly larger events (World Cup, NFL, big-time CFB). Disney is trying to sell ESPN and their big tent rights approach.
 

Spelunker

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Only if you go to shitty buffets. I assume you do.

But please, be more condescending.
To buffets, or cable?

A buffet will either be a similar quality to a much cheaper a la carte place, or much worse quality of a similarly priced one. That's basically a truism.

There are very good reasons why lots of people don't like cable and cable companies especially. You may want to try understanding that instead of telling them they're wrong.
 

8slim

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To buffets, or cable?

A buffet will either be a similar quality to a much cheaper a la carte place, or much worse quality of a similarly priced one. That's basically a truism.

There are very good reasons why lots of people don't like cable and cable companies especially. You may want to try understanding that instead of telling them they're wrong.
You didn’t read either of my posts. Go back and finish the first one. You may be surprised at what I said.
 

johnmd20

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You get it. And I’m in the same biz.

Its like going to a buffet restaurant. The price is X and you take what you want. People don’t say they want to pay less because they only had the steak and not the lasagna.

That being said, the cable industry owns their horrific customer service and antiquated technology. They sowed the seeds of their own demise. If they had built modern, VOD interfaces 15 years ago when they should have, it’d be a far different story today.
Cable companies haven't died in any way whatsoever. You're throwing dirt on Comcast, worth a tiny 155 billion dollars, and Charter, worth 57 billion dollars? Where is the demise you're speaking of?
 

MuzzyField

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Many cable companies are eager to get out of this cable “industry” mess.

Let the local retransmission robber TV station groups and bloated/overpriced “buffet“ programmers, including sports, find a new way to tap/screw their dwindling, aging, and sadly dying flock of viewers.

The cable/telecom internet pipe providers can then just sit back, get a big bowl of popcorn, and enjoy this antiquated shit show nobody under the age of 35 cares about, and never will.

Many streaming services won’t pay the RSN’s a basic cable rate because they’re overpriced and their aging loyal sports fans can just keep their current bloated and overpriced cord.

Holding the already captured sports fans hostage to the cable/sat bundle has been an effective strategy in stemming the cord-cutting tidal wave among the 30ish percent that care about sports, but that dam is breaking. I’m going to enjoy watching the model crash and burn. I wonder if they‘ll try and black it out!

This isn’t breaking news for the non-NFL leagues, teams, and RSN’s. They’ve been knowingly playing kick the can, just like the newspaper industry tired to do and failed, time to pivot or die.
 

8slim

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Cable companies haven't died in any way whatsoever. You're throwing dirt on Comcast, worth a tiny 155 billion dollars, and Charter, worth 57 billion dollars? Where is the demise you're speaking of?
Those companies are at their core now broadband companies. They say so themselves. Video is an increasingly low margin business. The money is in broadband, and now also mobile.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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If the model dies- so would any advantage that a big market teams has. Probably a good thing for overall competitiveness of the sport, but not a great thing for the Sox. There don’t seem to be many, if any franchises, acting as if they expect this to happen and there to be a major hit to their revenues so we shall see- the RSN model dying would have a massive impact on MLB and NHL; and to a lesser extent, the NBA.
 

Vinho Tinto

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....and to a lesser extent, the NBA.
I think the NBA is far and away the most secure of the big four leagues in North America. Their pie is increasingly growing due to its global appeal. While the RSNs like Bally going away will hurt, they know that their deals abroad have that covered while they figure this problem out.

Like soccer, the barrier of entry for young athletes is pretty low. Also like soccer, the athletes are easy to identify because they aren't covered in padding or a helmet. The sport itself allows the elite to shine via their skill and athleticism.

There are still too many people running MLB who are allergic to showcasing athletes.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Jan 13, 2021
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The NBA is in a better position than MLB because their game is more National (and global) and not nearly as reliant on local revenue, but nothing compares to the NFL. All of the NFL’s television deals are national; every RSN could disappear tomorrow and it wouldn’t impact their business. (that being said, the NBA has real issues too- it’s audience is rapidly aging and the regular season has minimal appeal esp as it’s treated with less and less
Importance by its players each year. Or course, they are up to renew their National deals soon and will surely get a huge increase).

Without significant local TV revenues I imagine most MLB teams would spend around the same amount on payroll. Not sure how we’d get to that point given how much money teams have committed into the future. The fact that teams don’t appear overly concerned about diminishing local revenues could be seen as a really good or really bad thing I guess. There’s only so many somewhat marquee media rights available at any given time and if some of these RSN’s go under, will others become interested?
 

johnmd20

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I think the NBA is far and away the most secure of the big four leagues in North America. Their pie is increasingly growing due to its global appeal. While the RSNs like Bally going away will hurt, they know that their deals abroad have that covered while they figure this problem out.

Like soccer, the barrier of entry for young athletes is pretty low. Also like soccer, the athletes are easy to identify because they aren't covered in padding or a helmet. The sport itself allows the elite to shine via their skill and athleticism.

There are still too many people running MLB who are allergic to showcasing athletes.
This is insane.

It is the NFL and they are in their own galaxy. It is beyond secure. It has, by far, the most viewers. And the viewers are sticky af. The NBA is in good shape but they would kill for NFL margins and numbers.
 

Archer1979

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Jul 18, 2005
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Right Here
(20+ year lurker, first post.)

I have had DirecTV with Sports Pack for many years, and love having all the regional sports networks. IMO it's an incredible value for a displaced sports fan who cares about more than just the biggest leagues. There are lots of great secondary sporting events, plus a lot of the channels give me a connectedness to Boston and different other places where I've been. (I grew up in Boston, but have lived in CA for 20+ years now.). I also don't think streaming is great for most live sports. Channel-flipping and seeing it "as it happens" are the big reasons why, especially since now people get notifications about stuff on their phones.

I am really concerned about the RSNs with the recent Bally news and now this. My questions (particularly for the TV guys who posted earlier in this thread):

- Do the RSNs have any real hope of staying alive, especially if they lose the MLB and NBA teams ?

- Is this trend likely to kill ALL the RSNs sooner than later -- meaning even NESN, YES, MASN, and the other ones that seem to produce more local content that most ??

- If these RSNs start going away, will all of these secondary events and shows disappear from over-the-air TV completely ? At least over-the-air TV that you can get on a national carrier such as DirecTV ?
Glad you posted this.

We're about ready to cut the cord and looking at DirectTV streaming (currently test driving FUBO but not having the Turner networks was a non-starter for the boys due to NBA and MLB playoffs). Big consideration for us for staying with cable was we have a house on the Caoe that we rented out so we were supporting two platforms. Somewhat foolish in hindsight, but since we're gearing up for retirement, we're looking at cutting costs.

The current plan is to cut the cable to both just internet. We already supplement those with streaming packages like DirectTV ($100), Netflix ($9.99), Disney Plus ($7.99), Hulu (son pays this), HBOMax ($15.99), and Prime Video (included with Amazon Prime, but costs $9.99 for Paramount Plus). Researched this a ton this past weekend and found out that Peacock will no longer be free if you have Comcast starting June 23, but for $50 annually, we'll probably pick that up.

My hope is, as I still want to test drive DirectTV, that Comcast (currently $270) will drop to $100 as it will be just internet. Charter (currently $260) to $120 for internet and phone.

I'm thinking it goes from $530/month to $320/month.

Please feel free to poke holes...
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Mar 26, 2005
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Yes and no re: the bundle ripping off customers. Is it objectively obvious that it sucks for somebody with no interest in sports to have to pay $15/month to access NESN and ESPN? Sure… and it also sucks for someone with no interest in Viacom’s networks to have to pay about $10/month for those. Or someone without kids paying $6/month for Disney Channel. And while a fan of both sports and entertainment and news is probably delighted with the $12/month they’re paying for TBS/TNT/CNN, anyone who doesn’t love all three isnt happy. It sickens me I pay a few bucks a month to Fox News.

(Note - some of the pricing above is out of date, but you get the idea)

Except in the end, no one is getting ripped off. In sum, the bundle was, is, and will be a better deal for everyone than the individual parts. Because a lot of those cable products won’t continue to exist without the bundle, or if they do it’ll be at prices much higher than imagined.

If the Red Sox want to approach current revenue, which is $10/month (or whatever) 12 month/year from 100% of the cable footprint, plus the ad revenue that footprint makes possible, they’ll need to jack up prices 10x anticipating many in the footprint will drop the service, Sox-only and Bruins-only fans may keep it for only 6 months/year (maybe less if the teams aren’t competitive). Which they can’t…so revenue will go down. And not that I pity John Henry and his fellow oligarchs, but it’s not reasonable to assume/insist they make significantly less money, so investment in the team and in Fenway will shrink.

Dont mean to call you out for your thoughtful post @NortheasternPJ , but the whole “I only want to pay for what I want” cry is what got set the destruction of the bundle in motion, leading to competing premium services that ultimately offer less choiCE, or at best much higher cost. If everyone pitches in something for something they don’t want, we all win. (Sounding like Jimmy Stewart fighting off the bank run in It’s a Wonderful Life)

(Yes, I’ve worked the last 40 years or so in basic cable. While I’m far from objective, that doesn’t mean I’m not right)
I thought you might be interested in this article - https://stratechery.com/2023/what-the-nba-can-learn-from-formula-1/ - which talks about the pros of the "bundle" in basically the same terms you do. (The article was originally posted in the Port Cellar to discuss the NBA but thought it would be an interesting follow-up to your post.) One part:
Virtual pay-TV providers don’t have a customer base to defend, or infrastructure costs to leverage: they distribute via the Internet that people already pay for. To that end, they don’t have to carry everything, and regional sports networks were the most obvious thing to drop: this lets virtual pay-TV providers have a lower price than cable by virtue of excluding content that most people don’t want.
This is the dynamic that explains the impending bankruptcy of Diamond Sports and Warner Bros. Discovery’s announcement that they would be cutting loose their regional sports networks or letting them go bankrupt as well. These networks negotiated rights deals with teams that presupposed getting money from far more subscribers than the number that retain a cable subscription today; add in the amount of debt that Diamond Sports is carrying in particular and the numbers no longer make sense.
Note, though, that teams and leagues can’t just stream the games themselves, at least not economically. Consider a hypothetical region with 10,000 households:
  • Diamond Sports may have assumed that they would collect $5/month from 70% of those households; that’s $35,000 a month.
  • Instead Diamond Sports is collecting $5/month from 50% of those households; that’s $25,000 a month.
  • However, only 5% of the households watch the regional sports network in question; for the team/league to earn $25,000 in revenue they would need to charge each viewer $50/month.
What happens at $50/month, though? Fewer viewers subscribe, which means the price that needs to be charged to the SuperSuperFans has to be even higher. Moreover, you make the sport completely inaccessible to CasualFans, which is big problem for the long run.