Coronavirus: Will There Be Refunds For Regional Sports Channels?

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Q. Has there been any word about cable and satellite TV giving refunds for regional sports channels during the Coronavirus? After all, they don’t have any live sports now so we are not getting what we were promised when we signed up. My monthly regional sports fee is more than $10 a month with Optimum. Seems like we shouldn’t have to pay that now. — Paul, Yonkers, New York. 

Paul, as you note, cable and satellite TV services charge monthly fees if you have a regional sports channel in your programming package, whether you watch the channel or not. The fees range from $8 a month to more than $10 a month in some plans, depending upon the operator and how many regional sports channels are available to you.

With the nationwide pause in live sports due to the Coronavirus, the lineups for the regional sports channels have become a mix of news shows, documentaries, repeats of old games, and infomercials. (Regional sports networks include such channels as the Yes Network in your area, the AT&T SportsNet channels, and the Fox Sports networks.)

Indeed, this is not what cable and satellite subscribers expected when they signed up for TV service; the channels normally air live games from MLB, the NBA, the NHL and the NCAA.

However, the channels are continuing to provide programming so I don’t foresee the pay TV services offering refunds at this time. You can argue that the programming is diminished (and it is), but cable and satellite operators usually don’t even issue a regional sports channel refund when they lose one in a carriage dispute. So it’s highly unlikely they will offer a refund now when the channels are still on, albeit in a lesser state.

If the pause in sports extends into months, this could change. And, if you call your TV provider now and demand a regional sports refund, you might get a sympathetic person who will give you one. But don’t expect the companies to hand out blanket refunds at this stage in the coronavirus outbreak.

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