Dish, long the poster child for providers dropping regional sports networks, is now RSN-free. On Monday night, the satellite company dropped NESN, the final RSN it carried.
In a statement, Dish’s Brian Neylon called the RSN model “fundamentally broken” and claimed they made various offers to NESN, including making it a standalone package or adding it to different packages.
In a scathing press release, DISH TV announces it has removed NESN from its service. pic.twitter.com/5G8eS2seVl
— Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) December 21, 2021
Dish’s antipathy towards RSNs truly began in 2019, when the then-Fox Sports RSNs were dropped, leading to Dish’s Charlie Ergen saying “it doesn’t look good that the regional sports will ever be on Dish again.” He was right! Dish dropped the Colorado-based Altitude later in 2019, following that up by dropping both the NBC Sports and AT&T SportsNet RSNs earlier this year. In the midst of a (resolved) carriage dispute with Sinclair based around local network affiliates this summer, Ergen claimed that “we don’t have any customers calling us on RSNs today.”
As for NESN, it’s not available on the Dish-owned Sling, Google-owned YouTube TV, or Disney-owned Hulu Live. Your only streaming options for the RSN are fuboTV and DirecTV Stream (the only streamer with the Bally Sports RSNs, which getting a price hike in January). I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Hulu and YouTube TV, which both only carry the NBC Sports RSNs, also go RSN-free in 2022 in order to avoid significant price increases.
Dish’s decision to go RSN-free is one we could see coming after the company punted on the Fox RSNs a couple years back, and given Ergen’s strong public comments against re-adding them, it seemed logical that the rest of the RSNs would follow. Given the subject matter we cover here, I really should hate Dish’s strategy. But, as much as I hate to admit it, I sort of admire the company’s devotion to severing ties with RSNs. They’re not hiding what they’re doing, and with more streamers and carriers following their lead, it’s not as if they’re alone on an island.
Maybe this will finally force the hand of RSN owners and kick a direct to consumer service into high gear. Hey, stop laughing. That shoe has to drop eventually, right?