I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: if you’re a fan of your local MLB, NBA, or NHL team and you choose to subscribe to Dish or Sling, you’re not getting any sympathy from me.
This week, Sling announced they were dropping the remaining NBC Sports RSNs on their platform, as of April 1st.
Here’s the email sent to subscribers, per The Streamable.
As of 4/1/2021, NBC Regional Sports Networks will no longer be on SLING. We are committed to providing the best value with the flexibility our customer’s deserve and, unfortunately, we were unable to come to an agreement on those terms.
Thanks for being a loyal SLING customer.
The Sling TV Team.
On Wednesday, The Streamable reported that Dish, Sling’s parent company, would also be dropping the RSNs.
Here’s NBC’s statement on Dish’s decision, via a spokesperson.
The NBC Regional Sports Networks offered to continue distribution on fair market terms. DISH and Sling declined those terms and will be dropping the networks. The many other distributors that continue to carry the RSNs are listed on each RSN’s website.
Sling and Dish were taking a weird piecemeal approach to the NBC RSNs, and had dropped NBC Sports Chicago in October of 2019. NBC’s other RSNs in Philly, Boston, and the Pacific Northwest also weren’t carried, and the remaining three dropped at the start of April are NBC Sports California, Bay Area, and Washington. This will cover both the Giants and A’s in MLB, the Warriors and Wizards in the NBA, and the Sharks and Capitals in the NHL.
The timing sucks here, because Opening Day for both the Giants and A’s is April 1st, while the NBA regular season will roll into mid-May and the NHL regular season ends a week earlier.
Sling and Dish will now be carrying zero RSNs. Back in the summer of 2019, the company dropped the Fox RSNs on both its streaming and satellite services, and no progress has been made since. YouTube TV, Hulu, and fuboTV also dropped the Fox RSNs – YouTube at the end of September, Hulu a month later, and fubo at the start of 2020. None have re-added those RSNs since, though all three still offer all of the NBC RSNs. fubo also offers NESN, AT&T Sportsnet Southwest, and AT&T Sportsnet Pittsburgh, which neither Hulu nor YouTube TV have on their lineups.
AT&T TV has the whole shebang of RSNs, but it’s also priced similarly to cable at $84.99 a month. That somewhat defeats the purpose of a leaner, cheaper live TV package.
But folks, here’s the deal. While I’ve routinely taken shots at Sling and Dish for their seemingly nonstop array of carriage disputes, they were ahead of the curve in dropping the Fox RSNs two summers ago. Could they also be ahead of the curve by dropping the NBC RSNs? I think it’s a possibility. If the RSNs are so expensive to carry, and the internal data at all of these streamers shows that they’re not bringing in enough viewers to balance those costs, it makes sense for them to get dropped.
However, Sinclair and the Fox (soon to be Bally) RSNs could be an outlier in comparison to the NBC RSNs and those Sinclair RSNs when they were under the Fox umbrella. NBC has the ability to package its RSNs with other cable channels (including NBCSN, which will reportedly be shuttered in 2021), much like Fox could with its RSNs and cable channels. While Sinclair owns many local affiliates across the country, its cable holdings outside of the Fox RSNs and Tennis Channel are minimal. Those affiliates are decent enough leverage, but pale in comparison to the national sports, news, and entertainment behemoths under the NBC and (previously) Fox umbrellas.