Customers are seated at the bar to watch Monday night football on Sept. 28, 2020 at Christo's Sports Bar and Grill in Panama City Beach. Credit: Panama City News-Herald (pcnh)

While the world of sports rights can be unpredictable at times, one thing seems certain for the future: streaming is going to take up a bigger piece of the pie.

And while keeping up with which apps you need for which games can be a headache for consumers, it’s causing even bigger—and more expensive—problems for local bars and restaurants.

The latest area to feel the impact of streaming’s presence in the sports world is Central Ohio—and really, all of Ohio—as Peacock prepares to air this Saturday’s game between Ohio State and Purdue. While the matchup will mark the Boilermakers’ third consecutive appearance this season on the NBC-owned streaming platform, it will be the first time a Buckeyes game has aired exclusively on Peacock since the Big Ten’s new media rights deal went into effect earlier this year.

Ohio State fans aren’t happy about the adjustment. But it might be the owners of local establishments who have the biggest gripe.

Because while Buckeyes fans looking to watch the game at home will only need to sign up for a Peacock subscription plan — which starts at $5.99 a month—the same can’t be said for bars and restaurants who want to air the games. Rather, commercial establishments must purchase a “Peacock Sports Pass” through EverPass Media, a new company that reached an agreement to distribute Peacock’s sports package to bars and restaurants earlier this year.

And while the pricing for such plans isn’t readily available, this much we know: they aren’t cheap.

According to a Facebook post from Gresso’s Restaurant & Bar in Columbus, DirecTV customers must purchase Peacock via a 12-month commitment for every TV in the establishment  (Everpass Media has reached out saying that the every television provision is not required) which is not ideal given Peacock’s sports programming can be very thin during certain months of the year and most likely only a fraction of televisions would not actually be tuned into the service at a time.  While not ideal, this type of structure in terms of televisions and year-long commitments jives with known industry standards for commercial pricing of television/streaming packages. Where this gets a bit confusing is that Facebook says this adds up to $20,018 a year but following the following the math laid out, the total would actually be $218,088 (699 per TV x 12 months x 26 TVs….and again EverPass media disputes that an establishment is required to pay for all televisions).

That number makes no sense and that probably comes from erroring on listing a $69 per TV per month fee as $699. But even if $20k is indeed the number to get Peacock a year, does that amount make sense for Gresso’s and other Ohio State sports bars when Peacock will only feature one Ohio State football game each season for the foreseeable future (Peacock will also air about a handful of basketball for each Big Ten school, one regular season NFL game and one NFL playoff game). Can a bar and restaurant really make up that amount of money by adding Peacock? Even so, that’s still a bitter pill to swallow given no Ohio State football or men’s basketball games streamed last year so a bar or restaurant would get the same amount of games as last year but have to pay $20k more under this new conference rights deal.

Ideally, there is some flexibility to negotiate, or perhaps an ability to either not subscribe for a full year, or avoid paying for the total televisions in an establishment. The landing page for Everpass’s Peacock package merely states, “Pricing for Peacock Sports Pass is dependent upon commercial establishment classification and FCO” so not much help there.

Gresso’s isn’t alone as many Big Ten communities having to deal with Peacock’s presence in the conference has also been a common theme this season since the new rights deal first went into effect. Considering that dealing with Peacock is just a one-time occurrence each season for most teams in the Big Ten (unless you’re Purdue), it will be up to each establishment to determine whether the cost for a one-week payoff is worth it. But as Peacock’s sports rights portfolio (which includes a few NFL games including a playoff game and Big Ten basketball) — as well as the packages of other streaming services — continue to grow, it will be interesting to see when this model hits an inflection point and, if so, what it means for the establishments, the streaming services, distributors like EverPass, and of course, the consumer.

For now, just know that the time-tested solution of “I’ll just go watch it at the bar” might not be the workaround it once was.


Gresso’s has figured it out via a vague 3rd party provider so feel free to go there and get plastered for all your Peacock programming needs.


About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.