DIRECTV has signed a new multi-year agreement with Charter’s Spectrum Networks to continue carrying their two regional sports networks, Spectrum SportsNet and SportsNet LA, the TV homes of the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Dodgers respectively. The deal covers DIRECTV, DIRECTV Stream and U-verse which will provide the channels in Southern and Central California, portions of Nevada including Las Vegas, and Hawaii.
In addition, Spectrum is allowing DIRECTV to offer the channels to fewer customers. This is a switch for the RSN industry which traditionally has forced TV providers to include their channels in most, if not all, plans to reach more viewers. Channels are paid by the number of subscribers who have access to them, not by the number who actually watch. However, Spectrum says in a press release that it has to acknowledge the pay TV industry is changing due to cord cutting and that pay TV operators need more flexibility in packaging and pricing.
“While viewing habits continue to shift, it’s clear that regular season professional sports programming remains extremely popular…that said…the model for RSNs needs to evolve to reflect the realities of the marketplace,” Spectrum Networks senior vice president Dan Finnerty said in a press release.
DIRECTV and DIRECTV Stream have already excluded the two LA-based RSNs from their least expensive plan, Entertainment. But a company spokesman says this new agreement with Spectrum will create “even more opportunities” to only provide the channels to subscribers who want them. He did not elaborate.
To amplify Charter’s new position on RSNs, Sports Business Journal reports that its Spectrum TV service will soon split its expanded basic Select plan into two: One package, called Spectrum TV Select Plus, will include RSNs, while Spectrum Select Signature will not include them. The latter plan will be around $10 cheaper, SBJ writes.
The new plans are expected to be rolled out to new customers in the third quarter.