Do regional sports networks (RSNs) have a future? Just since the third quarter of 2019, many streaming providers have been content to let RSNs leave. Aside from DIRECTV STREAM, sports fans can’t stream the Bally Sports Networks at all. Is there any path to success for RSNs in a fragmented streaming world?
The answer to that question may be harder to find than you think.
Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns the Bally Networks, is finding itself increasingly hard-pressed to get its content accepted on platforms. DirecTV and Comcast stepped in, but these are legacy providers in a world that’s increasingly going to streaming. Sinclair’s parent company, which is currently fairly deep in debt at last report, is undoubtedly eager to get back some of its lost partnerships.
One idea for saving the RSN came from analyst firm Needham & Company, whose principal, Ryan Vaughan, suggested a point that should be obvious in retrospect. When you’ve got a platform nobody’s watching, get some content people want to see. Vaughan noted that all Sinclair really needs to do was get some content that would make viewers interested in watching an RSN outside of the chunks of time where live games air. That would draw viewers in the off-hours, and make RSNs more palatable to service providers.
Great idea, but maybe just a bit too simple. As much a winner as that idea is, the problem is actually figuring out what that programming actually is. Sure, ESPN is awash in talk shows like “Pardon the Interruption” and “Around the Horn,” but how much sports chatter do fans really need? Between radio, podcasts, blogs, and TV sports networks, the market seems fairly saturated. RSNs narrow the scope even further by focusing on one area’s teams.
One executive with an RSN—who requested he remain anonymous—actually came right out told Sportico, “Nobody has come up with something that is a moneymaker outside of live sports. And I don’t see a program on the horizon that is going to get a distributor to say, ‘We can’t drop that network because they have that program.’”
That’s bad enough on its face, coming from an outside appraisal. It’s much worse coming from an insider. But perhaps there really is a way to open up the potential of an RSN. The solution we might propose comes right from the acronym itself.
Regional - While certainly, people tune in to an RSN to find their favorite pro sports, why limit yourself to just pro sports? Why not expand into the area’s collegiate scene and beyond? Beyond? Where beyond? How about high school sports? People tuning into an area’s television programming tend to appreciate local news. Statista found that local television news is the leading offline news source in the U.S., so why not focus harder on the “regional” to get viewers interested when the big team isn’t playing?
Sports - Remember the movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.” When it was revealed that the dodgeball finals were running on ESPN 8—otherwise known as “The Ocho”—it made it pretty clear that ESPN needed to cover a whole lot of different sports to get anywhere near the amount of programming required to fill that many networks. What if RSNs started expanding their definition of sports? Area Tae Kwon Do championships, for one. We already saw ESPN get into cornhole (which is essentially just a kind of competitive beanbag toss) during the pandemic. Just a few months ago, ESPN briefly brought “The Ocho” to life. It didn’t last, of course, but it was wild while it lasted. Also remember that major sports leagues are extremely expensive to secure video rights. That wouldn’t be a problem for the Quad Cities Hopscotch Rodeo or whatever.
Network - Sportico recently referred to New York’s YES Network as a figure best placed to survive in the fundamental shift of RSNs, so let’s see what they’ve got. On the YES Network schedule, you’ll find some talk radio operations, some mini-documentaries, and similar matter in there. There’s something to be said for outside-the-game commentary, and the RSN might be the perfect place to air such content.
There are possibilities that could be explored here. Some of these may ultimately pay off. Some, or even all, may not. The only way to find out is to actually try them. What, after all, do the RSNs ultimately have to lose? They’re already losing carriage with the newer streaming platforms, so they might as well try whatever they can to get that back.
|DTV STREAM||fuboTV||Hulu||Philo||Sling TV||YouTube|
|Prueba gratis||Prueba gratis||Inscríbete||Prueba gratis||50% OFF||Inscríbete|
|USD 69.99||USD 69.99||USD 69.99||USD 25||USD 35||USD 35||USD 64.99|
|Altitude||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh||≥ USD 89.99||•||-||-||-||-||-|
|AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain||≥ USD 89.99||•||-||-||-||-||-|
|AT&T SportsNet Southwest||≥ USD 89.99||•||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Arizona||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Carolinas||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Detroit||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Florida||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Great Lakes||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Indiana||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Kansas City||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Midwest||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports New Orleans||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports North||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Ohio||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Oklahoma||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports San Diego||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports SoCal||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports South||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Southeast||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Southwest||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Sun||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Tennessee||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports West||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Wisconsin||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Arizona||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Carolinas||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Detroit||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Florida||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Indiana||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Kansas City||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Midwest||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports New Orleans||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports North||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Ohio||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Oklahoma||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Prime Ticket||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports San Diego||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports South||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Southeast||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Southwest||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Sun||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Tennessee||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports West||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Wisconsin||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Longhorn Network||-||-||-||-||^ USD 11||-||-|
|Marquee Sports Network||≥ USD 89.99||•||-||-||-||-||-|
|MASN||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|MASN2||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|MSG||≥ USD 89.99||•||-||-||-||-||-|
|MSG+||≥ USD 89.99||•||-||-||-||-||-|
|NBC Sports Bay Area||≥ USD 89.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Boston||≥ USD 89.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports California||≥ USD 89.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Chicago||≥ USD 89.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Northwest||-||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Philadelphia||-||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Philadelphia+||-||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Washington||≥ USD 89.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Washington+||-||•||•||-||-||-||-|
|NESN||≥ USD 89.99||•||-||-||-||-||-|
|Root Sports Northwest||≥ USD 89.99||•||-||-||-||-||-|
|Spectrum SportsNet||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Spectrum SportsNet LA||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|SportsNet NY||≥ USD 89.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|SportsTime Ohio||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|YES Network||≥ USD 89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|