Will Hulu or YouTube TV Add Bally Sports RSNs After Fubo’s New Deal?
Cue the Peaches and Herb, because fuboTV and Bally Sports are reunited — and it feels so good for sports fans who have been desperate for their local regional sports networks (RSNs). But who might be next?
For the uninitiated, news broke on Wednesday that fuboTV and Sinclair Broadcasting Group (SBG) had reached a carriage agreement to bring 19 Bally Sports RSNs to the live TV streaming service in the coming weeks. This means that the Bally Sports RSNs will return to Fubo for the first time in roughly three years.
Over the years, SBG has engaged in carriage disputes with nearly every live streamer and cable provider, which has caused many carriers to drop the networks from their platforms, which fuboTV did when its deal with the then FOX branded RSNs ended at the close of 2019. The only other places that sports fans are able to stream the Bally Sports RSNs are DIRECTV STREAM — which is increasing its prices to $99.99 per month in January — and Sinclair’s direct-to-consumer streamer Bally Sports+.
But as the relationship between SBG and Fubo has obviously thawed, The Streamable wondered what other streaming services could reconcile with Sinclair and bring back Bally Sports RSNs in the new year.
Hulu + Live TV
Hulu could add the Bally Sports RSNs as a great compliment to its corporate sibling sports streamer ESPN+. However, unlike Fubo which has already introduced RSN fees for some of its markets, Hulu + Live TV has not yet had to do that. But, given the price hikes that Hulu introduced earlier this month, you’d have to wonder whether or not Disney would be willing to raise rates again so quickly.
If not, that would mean that Hulu would have to fold the additional carriage fees into its current $69.99 per month base plan. Hulu + Live TV does have a more expensive subscription option, but it doesn’t come with any different live-streaming channels. Instead, it bumps up the included access to traditional Hulu and Disney+ from the ad-supported tier to the ad-free option.
Both plans already include access to ESPN+, so it could be possible for Hulu to add Bally Sports RSNs to the $82.99 per month tier, but that would seem unlikely, given how the different plans are currently constructed. The streamer could also create a completely new, separate sports tier in order to cover the RSN fees, but one of the positives about Hulu’s live streaming service is its simplicity. There are no different channel packages to decide upon, there are no premium channels siloed off in more expensive plans; the only option is whether or not you want to upgrade the included streaming services to ad-free.
So, given the fact that Hulu + Live TV already offers access to ESPN+ and live sports on broadcast networks, ESPN, FS1, NBC Sports Network, NFL Network, and more, Disney getting into business with Sinclair’s RSNs seems less than likely.
The one thing that might make Hulu more likely is that Diamond Sports, who runs Bally Sports RSNs, has Hulu’s Former CEO Randy Freer on its board.
Speaking of adding RSNs to an existing sports-heavy streamer, as reports swirl about YouTube TV being the next home of NFL Sunday Ticket, so too could the Alphabet-owned streamer reconcile with Sinclair to create its own sports streaming destination.
YouTube TV dropped the Bally Sports RSNs in October 2020, and while speculation of their return served as a thread throughout 2021), nothing materialized. Like Hulu, YouTube TV does not currently have RSN fees built into any of its subscription packages, so if the streamer were to add the Bally Sports channels, it would either have to absorb the costs, introduce a new fee to customers, or place them into an add-on package.
YouTube TV’s base package includes many sports networks and the service already has a sports add-on package that includes networks like bein Sports, NFL RedZone, PokerGo, Stadium, and more. The package costs $10.99 per month, only two dollars more than fuboTV’s RSN fee. While Google would like to be able to offer them as an add-on, it is unlikely they could be offered in that way given Sinclair’s existing deals with cable, satellite, and streaming services.
Never say never, though, especially when it comes to streaming.
Sling TV was the first to drop Bally Sports RSNs and the YES Network — which SBG has a minority share of — in July 2020, and since then the streamer has dropped every RSN that it carried in efforts to keep costs down and streamline its programming offerings. In March 2021, Sling dropped its last two remaining RSNs — NBC Sports Washington and NBC Sports Bay Area/California — so while it is certainly possible that the streamer could have a change of heart, it doesn’t seem likely regional sports networks are in its future plans.
This is one streaming service that you can almost guarantee will not be adding the Bally Sports RSNs. Philo markets itself as a cost-effective live TV streamer that does not offer sports channels. It is difficult to imagine Philo adding SBG’s RSNs to its platform, especially when it doesn’t even have ESPN or FS1.