This week, every major news channel will broadcast the January 6 Committee hearings live. ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and NBC will air the event without interruption. The lone holdout? Fox News. The company reports that it will share the updates it deems newsworthy, which means viewers will only get the soundbites Fox wants them to hear, surrounded by carefully crafted commentary.
When things like this occur, many viewers may wonder why they can’t simply drop Fox News from their channel lineups. After all, if you subscribe to a service that carries the channel, you’re paying for it whether you watch it or not.
There’s one main reason the major streaming services won’t drop Fox News: the NFL.
The Fox empire includes not just Fox News, but also Fox Business Network, FS1, and FOX Weather, along with 18 owned-and-operated local Fox channels. There’s also FOX SOUL and Fox Nation. Beyond that, you have FOX affiliates that carry programming like “Hell’s Kitchen,” “The Simpsons,” and, of course, the NFL.
When a service like Hulu Live TV or fuboTV wants to carry FOX, primarily for its NFL games, Fox Corporate will strong-arm them into carrying Fox News as well. It’s an all-or-nothing deal. While newer Fox offshoot channels are still not mandated, no service carries FOX without Fox News. No Fox News, no FOX — no FOX, and half the live Sunday football games go out the window.
In 2021, 75 out of the 100 most-watched live TV events were NFL games. In fact, only five non-sports events cracked the top 100. As SVOD services continue cranking out hits like “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” “Only Murders in the Building,” “Euphoria,” and “Squid Game,” live sports have become the only reason many subscribers still keep a live streaming service. And the NFL’s popularity means that the channels that carry those games have overwhelming bargaining power.
You saw that leverage in action during the last NFL season, when Disney and Comcast went to war with YouTube TV. In September, Comcast threatened to yank all NBCU channels from YouTube TV, which would have meant the disappearance of Sunday Night Football on NBC. The two sides came to a last-minute agreement. Then, in December, Disney briefly yanked its stations from YouTube TV before agreeing to a settlement that allowed users to continue watching Monday Night Football on ESPN.
These battles play out during football season because that’s when networks and their owners have the greatest leverage over the operators that carry them. If a live streaming service dropped FOX in mid-June, there would be little outcry from people missing out on “Crime Scene Kitchen,” or “So You Think You Can Dance.” But drop FOX in the fall and football fans would race to find another live TV streaming service.
Right now, there are only two live streaming services that offer a FOX-free tier: Philo and Sling TV. Those services come at a cheaper price because they offer lineups without the more expensive sports channels.
So while some may argue for a Fox News advertiser boycott, the parent company still gets to rake in your monthly carriage fee if your live TV carrier offers the channel. The only way to impact the company would be to abandon all Fox products entirely, which means no college or pro football on FOX, and no free streaming catalog on Tubi.
Since the most recent NFL deal runs through the 2033 season (roughly the same amount of time we have to avert the worst effects of climate change), you can expect your grandparents to continue to be radicalized for at least another decade. Will we still have a democracy by then? Tune in and find out… preferably on a channel with a vested interest in the continuance of the republic.
|DTV STREAM||fuboTV||Hulu||Philo||Sling TV||YouTube|
|Free Trial||Free Trial||$20 OFF||Free Trial||50% OFF||Sign Up|
|Fox Business Network||•||•||•||-||-||^ $6||•|
|Fox Sports 2||≥ $104.99||•||•||-||-||^ $11||•|