Last December, I made six predictions for TV technology in 2022 including ones on Netflix, the NFL Sunday Ticket, regional sports channels and DIRECTV and Dish. Since today is the year’s mid-point, I thought it would be a good time to do a mid-year review of my forecasts.

Prediction #1:
The next NFL Sunday Ticket contract will be split between two companies — ESPN+ and DIRECTV.
To my surprise, and many others, the NFL has yet to award the contract for the next Sunday Ticket package. (DIRECTV’s current deal expires after the 2022 season.) CNBC reported last week that Apple, Amazon and Disney (for ESPN+) have all made bids, but the league’s final decision has been delayed by negotiations regarding whether the winner will bundle the Ticket with the league’s new NFL Media mobile venture.

The news network also reports that DIRECTV has not bid on the next contract, but it may be eying to make a deal with the winner that would allow it to continue offering the Ticket to bars and restaurants and perhaps its entire satellite audience.

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So my prediction could still come true, although some reports have said Apple and Amazon are the front-runners here, and not ESPN+.

Prediction’s Mid-Year Grade:

Prediction #2:
DIRECTV & Dish will merge.
I predicted that the nation’s two satcasters will become one due to shrinking audiences and new company missions. Here’s what I wrote on December 10, 2021:

“I predict that DIRECTV and Dish will merge in 2022. I suspect it will not happen until the second half of the year. Both Dish and DIRECTV have some preparation work to do before moving forward. (By example, will DIRECTV secure at least a slice of the next Sunday Ticket contract, which would improve its value in Dish talks.)”

The companies have been tight-lipped about a merger, but the New York Post reported last January that they are discussing it.

Once again, my prediction could still happen so…

Prediction’s Mid-Year Grade:

Prediction #3:
Netflix will merge or be purchased outright.
I wrote last December that Netflix would struggle to generate new subscribers in 2022 due to increasing competition and higher prices. Consequently, I predicted that it would seek a partner.

“I predict that Netflix Chairman Reed Hastings and his team will conclude the time is right to join with a rival to form an even more powerful company, one that can survive a long-term streaming war that will be even more expensive than the current one. And one that can fight back against the likely alliances of other rivals, starting with the merger of Warner Media (HBO Max) and Discovery.”

I also predicted that the partner would likely be either Disney or Comcast. But I had a favorite in the race.

“So who will win? If I were betting today, I would bet on Disney. But either company could be in the hunt.”

Since my prediction, Netflix reported its first subscriber loss in years, causing its stock to decline and triggering rumors that it could be ripe for a takeover or merger. Disney and Comcast are most often cited as possible suitors.

It’s early, but I still feel confident something will happen here.

Prediction’s Mid-Year Grade:

Prediction #4:
Sinclair will launch a Bally Sports service for cord cutters.
Sinclair this month did launch Bally Sports Plus, a new service that allows fans to subscribe directly to their in-market team without a cable or satellite subscription.

However, at the time of my prediction last December, it was uncertain the company could pull it off. News reports suggested Sinclair’s sports unit, Diamond Sports Group, might have to declare bankruptcy because it was unable to secure carriage deals for Bally Sports with such pay TV outfits as Dish, Sling TV, YouTube TV, Hulu Live and FuboTV.

But I felt that Sinclair would still offer the cord-cutter service because it was crucial to the company’s long-term plans.

Prediction’s Mid-Year Grade:

Prediction #5:
YouTube TV, Hulu Live, Sling TV and FuboTV would not carry Bally Sports in 2022.
Here’s what I wrote on December 16, 2021:

“I predict that the non-DIRECTV Stream services will not add Bally Sports in 2022 for the same reason they haven’t added it before: Economics. Whether it’s Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Sling TV or FuboTV, the streamers’ profit margins are so thin that it’s hard for them to justify paying the regional sports channels, which do charge more than most channels.”

(DIRECTV Stream is the only major live streamer that carries Bally Sports.)

On June 30, 2022, there is no sign that the non-DIRECTV Stream services will add Bally Sports this year or perhaps ever.

Prediction’s Mid-Year Grade:
A (But it could change.)

Prediction #6:
Comcast will not carry MSG Networks.
Comcast on September 30, 2021 lost the MSG Networks in Connecticut and parts of New Jersey due to a carriage dispute. (MSG and MSG+ are regional sports channels that have the local TV rights to the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.)

On December 16, 2021, I wrote:

“I think it’s clear now that the two sides are far apart and no settlement is likely by year’s end. But what about 2022? Surely they will find common ground at some point during the year, right? Wrong. Both companies seem unwilling to move from their positions, and Comcast has a history of doing without a regional sports network for an indefinite period of time.”

On June 30, 2022, there is no sign of a settlement.

Prediction’s Mid-Year Grade:
A (Could change).

Thus far, we have three As and three incompletes. Not bad, but it’s still early.

At the end of the year, we’ll do another review of my 2021 predictions. But until then, please come back to The TV Answer Man for more updates on these stories and many more. And if you have questions about TV technology, you can send them via the form below:

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— Phillip Swann