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Yesterday, The Streamable reported NBCUniversal was spinning up plans to launch a DTC streaming option for its regional sports networks. Today, the company reached out to say that the sentence about a DTC offering in their news release was “misleading.”

An NBCUniversal Local spokesperson tells The Streamable, “In a personnel-related announcement issued by NBCUniversal Local on Jan. 31, a reference to the NBC Sports Regional Networks’ direct-to-consumer (DTC) plans was inadvertently included and was misleading. At this stage in the process, our DTC strategy is evolving as we assess options in each of the unique sports markets we serve. At this time, we don’t have any further details about launch plans including timing or markets. More information will be announced when available.”

This statement does not negate the possibility of a DTC option, but it certainly throws cold water on any perceived momentum. Every RSN provider is surely considering how they might be able to repackage their channels as many ways as possible.

DTV STREAM fuboTV Hulu Philo Sling TV YouTube
無料トライアル 無料トライアル 登録 無料トライアル 50% OFF 登録
$69.99 $69.99 $69.99 $25 $40 $40 $64.99
NBC Sports Bay Area ≥ $89.99 - - -
NBC Sports Boston ≥ $89.99 - - -
NBC Sports California ≥ $89.99 - - -
NBC Sports Chicago ≥ $89.99 - - -
NBC Sports Northwest - - - -
NBC Sports Philadelphia - - - -
NBC Sports Washington ≥ $89.99 - - -

While sports networks with national reach (ABCCBSESPNFox 、と NBC) can charge outrageous premiums for carriage and distribution, regional sports networks have less leverage. For one, RSNs don’t carry the NFL. Football accounted for 75 of the top 100 live broadcasts in 2021. RSNs are also locked into a handful of teams. While the games may be a draw, there are huge chunks of time without the games where the channels are about as stimulating as QVC. You also have the offseasons, where even die-hard fans would be hard-pressed to watch an RSN. Consider the Marquee Sports Network, which has the rights to air the Chicago Cubs and literally no other sports.

The RSN landscape is a mess for cord-cutters. DIRECTV STREAM offers the most robust options, but they come at a high price. Most of the other streaming services have simply chosen to let them drop entirely.

While Bally Sports is plowing ahead with its plan to stream regional sports, it risks infuriating its cable partners, who won’t be happy to see a key differentiator available a la carte. NBCUniversal likely faces the same friction. Almost since its inception, cable TV has survived by offering huge bundles of channels to offset the expensive ones (ESPN, in particular) with the cheap ones. The various vMVPDs do the same. While customers may wish they could toss Fox News off a cliff, they wouldn’t be able to do so without losing the NFL on FOX proper - the company deliberately forces a carrier to shoulder the whole Fox portfolio.

Would a cable company or streaming service be so bold as to cut ties with the entire NBCUniversal portfolio if a DTC operation siphoned away that RSN audience? It seems unlikely, but you can imagine the service providers wouldn’t be excited about paying up for the privilege.

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