By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, I saw your article on DIRECTV getting a new agreement for the LA sports teams. Do you think YouTube TV or maybe Hulu will add those channels now? — Bernie, Manhattan Beach, California.
Bernie, DIRECTV this week 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 pact, which also includes DIRECTV Stream and U-verse, is more interesting than your average carriage renewal because it allows 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. But Spectrum said 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.
Until now, DIRECTV’s three TV services and Charter’s own Spectrum TV are the only major providers in the LA market to offer SportsNet LA while Cox, the DIRECTV 3 and Spectrum TV are the only ones to provide Spectrum SportsNet. But Charter’s new approach does make you wonder if it can now persuade more pay TV services to carry the channels.
Dish, of course, is an unlikely candidate to add either channel. The nation’s second largest satellite TV service currently doesn’t carry any regional sports networks. You can count Sling TV out, too; the live streamer is owned by Dish.
YouTube TV and Hulu Live could be interested if they could limit the number of subscribers who have access to the channels — and thereby limit their carriage fees. (Channels are paid by the number of subscribers who have access to them, not by the number who actually watch.) But neither service has been bullish on RSNs, carrying very few. (YouTube TV, in fact, just dropped SNY, the New York Mets channel.)
The one pay TV service I could see adding the Lakers and Dodgers is Fubo. The live streamer, which calls itself a ‘sports first’ service, has more RSNs than any other except for DIRECTV Stream. If the terms are right, Fubo might add them both this year.
Bernie, I hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann