TV Answer Man, I saw something on a forum that said Dish is getting rid of our regional sports channels this week, including MASN. Is that true? Why would they do this? This is opening day week! — Toni, Bowie, Maryland.
Toni, Dish and Sling TV (owned by Dish) have said they will lose three NBC Sports regional sports networks on April 1 due to a carriage dispute with their owner, NBC Sports.
The channels are NBC Sports Washington (TV home of Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals), NBC Sports California (TV home of the Oakland Athletics, San Jose Sharks, Sacramento Kings) and NBC Sports Bay Area (TV home of San Francisco Giants and Golden State Warriors).
“As of 4/12/021, NBC Regional Sports Networks will no longer be on (Dish and) SLING. We are committed to providing the best value with the flexibility our customer’s deserve and, unfortunately, we were unable to come to an agreement on those terms,” the company said in an early March e-mail to customers.
Since that announcement, there has been no indication that Dish and NBC will settle their differences prior to the April 1 deadline.
But Dish has now revealed at its Dish Promise web page that it will also lose the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, better known as MASN, on April 1 as well. MASN is the TV home of the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles. (Sling TV has not carried MASN since the streamer’s launch in 2015.)
This is just the latest in a long line of fee fights between Dish and regional sports networks. The satcaster, which now carries just a few RSNs, such as the Longhorn Network, says the cost of carrying them far exceeds the value they provide to subscribers.
Dish says it has proposed to both MASN and NBC Sports that it be permitted to offer their channels a la carte, meaning subscribers could purchase them separately from their programming bundles. This is how Dish, and most pay TV operators, sell premium channels such as HBO and Showtime.
“The current Regional Sports Network model is fundamentally broken as it requires nearly all customers to pay for these channels – when in fact only a small percentage of customers watch them,” Dish states. “As the cost of these channels continue to escalate, we no longer think it makes sense to include them in our TV lineup. Our proposal to offer sports fans access to RSNs is simple, and provides choice and value to all of our customers.”
The satcaster adds: “DISH’s proposal would allow our customers to choose to subscribe to the RSN channels on an a la carte basis, similar to premium channels like Starz or Showtime. With this updated RSN model, no customer would be forced to pay for content they don’t watch and the RSNs would determine the price customers would pay for their channels. DISH has made this proposal to NBC and MASN, but they haven’t been willing to accept, choosing instead to demand payment from nearly all customers. We continue to remain open that the Regional Sports Networks will work with us to offer their content in a way that provides choice and value to all customers.”
MASN has not commented on the dispute, but odds appear slim it will be resolved before April 1, which marks the opening of the 2021 Major League Baseball season. This would deny Dish subscribers in the Washington/Baltimore market the opportunity to see the National and Orioles games when they return to action this week.
Giants and A’s fans will also be unable to see their home town teams if the NBC dispute is not settled before April 1.
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— Phillip Swann