Q. I read your article about YouTube TV making our regional sports channel not available in our area because of money. That steams me and I want to know if there’s another way to get my Texas Rangers. — Fran, Lubbock, Texas.
Fran, I’m afraid that YouTube TV is putting the screws to you twice. Let me explain.
YouTube TV just signed a new carriage agreement with Sinclair, the owner of the 21 Fox-branded regional sports channels, that permits it to carry 19 of them. (As part of the new pact, YouTube TV will no longer carry Fox Sports West or Prime Ticket, as well as the Yes Network.)
However, the new pact permits YouTube TV to redraw its viewing territories so it doesn’t have to offer the Fox regional channels in many rural and suburban areas, and small towns, close to the primary urban market.
For example, Fox Sports Southwest, which broadcasts the Texas Rangers, is still available to YouTube TV subscribers in Dallas, but not in some of the outlying areas such as Lubbock. Fox Sports Kansas City, the TV home to the Kansas City Royals, is available to Kansas City residents, but not to smaller communities nearby such as Lincoln, Nebraska.
Previous to the new pact, the channels were available in the outer markets (such as Lubbock and Lincoln) on YouTube TV.
By offering the Fox regional sports channels to fewer subscribers, YouTube TV does not have to pay Sinclair as much money in carriage fees. (Provider fees are based on how many subscribers can get the programmer’s channels.) It’s unclear how many YouTiube TV subscribers are affected, but it could be in the low hundreds of thousands, or more. YouTube TV has more than two million subscribers.
But, Fran, here’s how you and many other YouTube TV sports fans are getting screwed twice.
Let’s say you live in Lubbock, and Fox Sports Southwest is suddenly blacked out because YouTube TV has deemed you are now ‘out-of-market’ for the Rangers. You might say, hey, if I’m out-of-market for the Rangers, I should be able to get their games on MLB.TV, the league’s online package of out-of-market games.
YouTube TV may have redrawn the viewing territories, but MLB.TV hasn’t. The Rangers are still blacked out on MLB.TV if you live in Lubbock, as the Royals are in Lincoln, and so on.
So you can no longer get your ‘home team’ on YouTube TV or MLB.TV. You’re doubly screwed.
This may sound unfair, but you do have the option of subscribing to another service that carries your Fox regional sports channel, such as Hulu Live or AT&T TV. There’s also DIRECTV or your local cable service.
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— Phillip Swann