Sling TV customers in certain markets who subscribe at the Sling Blue level ($25 a month, $5/month more than the basic Sling Orange package) will have access to regional Comcast SportsNet coverage by April 2, MLB Opening Day. The networks being added are CSN California, CSN Bay Area, CSN Chicago and CSN Mid-Atlantic; each one will be available without additional charge to Sling Blue subscribers in eligible markets. As with the Fox regional networks Sling offers, availability is based on billing zip code.
This addition does make for a decent amount of sports programming. Some of the teams included are the Giants and Warriors (CSN Bay Area), Athletics, Kings and Sharks (CSN California), Cubs, White Sox and Blackhawks (CSN Chicago) and Capitals and Wizards (CSN Mid-Atlantic). And it sounds like these RSNs will include games, which could be a key advantage for Sling. One of the biggest complaints about competing service DirecTV Now has been that it has offered RSNs, but blacked out many or all of the actual games on them.
So, four of the seven CSNs will be available on Sling TV soon. The ones that still aren’t are CSN New England (Celtics and Revolution), CSN Northwest (TrailBlazers, WinterHawks, Canucks), and CSN Philadelphia (Phillies, 76ers, Flyers, Union). The latter two of those aren’t available on Sling TV parent Dish, as well as DirecTV, so that’s not particularly surprising. Sling Blue also already includes access to many of Fox Sports’ regional networks.
Overall, RSNs and easy access to the games on them have been one of the main reasons for many sports fans to keep their cable packages, but streaming services are definitely starting to make inroads there. PlayStation Vue offers many RSNs, and DirecTV Now may be an option there too if they can figure out the blackout issues. Google’s forthcoming YouTube TV also appears set to offer both CSN and Fox regional networks. That may only add to the growing wave of cord-cutters, which analyst Michael Nathanson recently noted accelerated at the fastest rate on record in 2016:
Cord-cutting accelerated at the fastest rate on record in 2016, per a note from analyst Michael Nathanson. pic.twitter.com/I3GqT3ZwSF
— Lucas Shaw (@Lucas_Shaw) March 1, 2017
And analyst Rich Greenfield noted that including Sling TV and DirecTV Now makes the multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) stats look much better:
— Rich Greenfield (@RichBTIG) March 1, 2017
Thus, it seems that streaming services are becoming more and more popular, and cord-cutting continues to increase. If streaming services like Sling TV can provide reliable access to RSN games, that may boost the rate of cord-cutting even further.