Q. I read your article about Dish talking to the financial analysts. Did they say anything about Sinclair and the regional sports channels they own? Dish hasn’t had a deal with them for a year now and we want our channels back!! — Dave, Scottsdale, Arizona
Dave, you’re right. Dish has been without the 21 Fox-branded Regional Sports Networks (owned by Sinclair Broadcasting) since July 2019 due to a carriage dispute between the two companies. The RSNs have the in-market rights to air the games of MLB, NHL and NBA teams so their loss is particularly irksome now for Dish sports fans.
Dish last week held a conference call with financial analysts following the release of the company’s second quarter report. Normally, during the quarterly analyst call, the analysts quiz the executives on the most important issues facing the company at the time.
However, despite the importance of the RSNs to Dish, there was little discussion about the dispute during the conference call. And what was said offered little insight into when or if the Dish-Sinclair fee fight will be settled.
For instance, Rich Greenfield, an analyst with LightShed, asked Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen whether he thought programming rates in general should be reduced because so many programmers are selling their channels directly to the consumer via streaming.
While Sinclair does not offer their RSNs directly to consumers via a separate streaming package, the Dish chief used the question anyway to diminish the importance of regional sports networks. Ergen said Dish has saved money by not paying Sinclair during the last year, and he added that many Dish subscribers don’t watch the channels anyway.
“Our cash flow has been a little better than I think we had projected because of loss of regional sports, the loss of customers who’ve been rejected, because we knew that many of our customers don’t watch regional sports. So there are other categories where they’re approaching regional sports status where those costs are going up beyond what the value is in terms of customers watching those and those will all be, we’ll have to negotiate through that,” Ergen said.
Ergen did not mention Sinclair specifically, but that’s who he was likely referring to, considering Sinclair is the largest owner of RSNs in the nation. Plus, Dish and Sinclair are presumed to be currently negotiating a wide-ranging carriage agreement that could include the RSNs and Sinclair’s 100+ local network affiliates. (It’s unclear when Dish’s current agreement for the local stations expires, but Ergen suggested last February that it would be sometime this year. He also said then that the negotiations for the local stations could help lead to a deal for the RSNs.)
The analysts did not ask further questions regarding Sinclair, or regional sports in general, so we have only Ergen’s vague remarks to ponder. More frustrating, Sinclair last week also held a conference call with financial analysts, but the analysts did not ask a single question about Dish, or carriage deals.
The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this situation, and report back here if and when we get more information.
Until then, happy viewing, and stay safe!
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The slant with RSN providers is that they want to be part of the standard cable packages. This forces non-sports fans to pay for them even if they don’t want or watch them. Putting them on a separate optional “Sports Tier” is a non-starter with most RSN content owners. The RSN providers cry foul and put the blame on the cable/satellite/streaming Live TV services even though accepting the terms would raise the viewer’s bill. Dish made a business decision. Low-rated RSN channels on the standard tier at a high per-subscriber rate did not make sense. At the same time they also have to deal with the local channel re-transmission fees which is basically free money for the owners of said channels (about $11.4 billion in 2020). The facts are the facts.
Leaving “ANY” Sports channels in a separate package is a NO Brainer.
It helps KEEP NON sports subscribers
and helps keep bills lower.
The local channel re-transmission fees should be classified as a CRIME
The NFL on Fox is starting soon and my local Fox channel would carry them. I just switched to dish but if I knew that I wouldn’t get the football games I wouldn’t have switched.
I watch sports period. If I knew dish did not have Fox football I would not have switched from Direct TV. Take the 100 music, shopping, spanish channels away and give us something we are interested in!
Dish, within the last few days, completely removed the Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket channels from their line-up. It is apparent that they do not intend to have any further negotiations with Sinclair to reinstate these channels. We would like to move from Dish to Direct TV but not if Charlie Ergen is planning on acquiring Direct TV.
This problem can be easily solved.
Put ALL sports in a “SEPARATE PACKAGE”
Everyone will be Happy.
Including Sinclair, at least they get “something”
rather than NOTHING
That happened 13 months ago.
I know DirecTV has the “Select Package” (No sports)
Do you know how many subscribers subscribe to the
“Select Package” ?
Which one does Dish have like that ?
Do you know where we can see the Packages
for Dish and DirecTV to compare them ?
I personally do not believe the Sinclair Regional Sports Networks are returning anytime soon to Dish Network. It might be time for consumers that want Regional Sports Networks to just move on from Dish Network.
The excuse that people dont want to pay for channels they dont watch is the biggest bunch of crap i dont watch religious, mexican,leftwing news,shopping channels but im sure as hell paying for them every month
Actually, some of the channels you refer to are either thrown in as part of a bundle that the content provider wants included for their own reasons or the channels are there because they pay the cable/satellite company to put them on the air.
I want the regional channels back especially Fox sports Detroit. If not when my contract is up I will be through with DISH. Do not get me wrong I like DISH network but we mainly watch sports and for you to say that people do not watch the channels anyway is horrible. Maybe it is because you do not watch sports. I will find a service that will allow me to watch what I want and that is my regional sports channels.
It is obvious that the only question here is how much money / profit can Dish make ? I never would have left Direct TV if I had know Dish would stop carrying FOX Sports.
They offer packages with over a hundred channels that no one wants so now is the time to say we don’t want Dish. Until enough people drop their service you are not going to see any change, why would they change when they are raking in the money without having to do anything?
Dish is not a customer focused company!!! Charlie Ergen is an IDIOT. When my contract is up I am gone. Somebody should have fired is nut a long time age.
I absolutely love Dish. So many shopping channels and infomercials to choose from 24hr/day. I wish they would get rid of all those nasty sports/news/local programming channels to make more room for “As Seen On TV” advertisers. NOT! Stick it Ergen. Sincerely a Predator hockey fan.
I guess I just fell into the bear trap when I switched from DTV to Dish. Big mistake for a sports fan. I didnt know about Dish not carrying the sports channels and was willing to pay for them. I will now plan on cancelling Dish.
I switched from cable to Dish.
Huge Mistake after I found out I can’t watch Angel Games now, carried on Fox Sports West.
Guess I’ll have to tune into the home shopping network or watch some classical music…or stare at a dishscape while waiting for the contract to expire.