By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, is there any chance that YouTube TV or Hulu Live could add the Bally Sports channels or is that a dead on arrival thing? — Gene, Atlanta.
Gene, YouTube TV has been missing the Bally Sports regional sports networks (RSNs) since the fall of 2020 due to a fight over fees. Fellow streamer Hulu Live also lost the RSNs around that time after failing to reach a new agreement with Sinclair, which then owned Bally Sports. (Fubo lost Bally as well in 2020 but has since added it back. DIRECTV Stream, another live streamer, also carries the Bally Sports RSNs.) The streamers say Diamond Sports, which now owns Bally Sports, wants too much money to carry Bally. But a new report from The Wall Street Journal could give hope to fans hoping for a breakthrough with YouTube TV and Hulu Live.
In an article on Diamond Sports’ effort to avoid liquidation after filing bankruptcy last March, WSJ says the RSN company still plans to seek carriage deals with YouTube TV and Hulu. “Diamond executives hope that forging new agreements with cable companies and leagues will result in the distribution and rights they need to continue airing games on cable while continuing to build its $19.99 a month streaming offering, BallySports+. The company also hopes to gain distribution on YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV or other streaming bundles of channels,” says the article.
Over the last few years, I have been asked frequently here if YouTube TV and Hulu Live will ever bring back the Bally Sports channels. For the reasons I recently stated here, I am still skeptical of the possibility. Both services have made it clear that they do not think it’s economically viable to carry many RSNs because they demand higher fees than most channels. The streamers are trying to keep program acquisition costs down so they can charge less for programming packages than cable and satellite. But if Diamond Sports would reduce its fees, which would likely require the teams to reduce their rights fees, both services would certainly be interested. And that scenario is possible.
Gene, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann