TV Answer Man, I have Sling TV and I like it. It’s not super expensive and it works pretty well most of the time. But it bugs me that they don’t have regional sports channels like my Bally Sports Florida which has the (Miami) Marlins baseball games. I would like to watch the Marlins so do you think Sling TV will ever offer regional sports channels? — Cynthia, Miami.
Cynthia, you’re right. Sling TV does not carry the Bally Sports regional sports channels, the AT&T regional sports nets, or the NBC Sports regionals. (The streamer last week lost the only three NBC regionals it carried in a fee fight with NBC.) It also does not carry Altitude, MASN, SportsNet LA or any other regional sports channel you can think of.
Sling does carry the ACC Network and Longhorn Network as part of its carriage deal with ESPN, but it would be a stretch to call them regional sports channels, at least ones that offer professional sports. Both the ACC Network and Longhorn focus on their respective niches, the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the University of Texas. The same goes with the Big Ten Network, another Sling TV channel.
There are two reasons why Sling TV does not carry regional sports networks with the second reason being the likely one that they never will.
1. Sling TV is owned by Dish.
Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has repeatedly said he believes regional sports channels are too costly to carry because they are viewed by a relatively small percentage of his subscribers, perhaps as small as 5-10 percent. Of course, that 5-10 percent of the audience is passionate about their local sports channels, which is why most major pay TV operators such as Comcast and DIRECTV do carry them. But Ergen believes the carriage fees exceed the RSN’s value.
2. Sling TV’s profit margin is razor thin.
As you know, Cynthia, Sling TV’s base package is just $35 a month, which is almost half as little as what its streaming rivals (Hulu, YouTube TV, FuboTV, AT&T TV) charge. Sling couldn’t keep its base rate so low if it added your regional sports channel. The price of that RSN would push it up by at least $5-10 a month more. And at that price, a significant number of Sling’s subscribers might drop their service.
You might say that Sling should offer the regional sports net as a separate channel which you could pay for separately if you wanted to. Well, it would be happy to do so, but the owners of the regional sports channels won’t permit it. They require their channels to be included in the base packages, which means more viewers will watch them, requiring the TV providers to pay them more in carriage fees.
It may sound complicated, but it’s how television works today. It’s not about getting the biggest audience for your product; it’s all about getting the most money for your product.
Cynthia, sorry I can’t be more encouraging. But if anything changes, I will provide an update here.
Until then, happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann