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Discussion in 'Internet Streaming Services' started by garn9173, Oct 22, 2020.
At this rate only DirecTV will be carrying the Sinclair RSN's. Including Marquee.
What's stopping Sinclair from launching their own OTT offering for this?
Money! They are fully aware that the RSN business model is a non-starter unless the bulk of the cable/sat/streaming subscribers are paying the fee.
Break out the cost for the RSN into a separate app or tier and they know that all those that say they would pay whatever for it, actually wouldn’t.
Existing agreements with traditional MVPDs. If Sinclair starts their own OTT service for just their RSNs then traditional MVPDs would want to cease carrying RSNs as part of their most popular base packages and just sell a variation of Sinclair's hypothetical OTT offering but with the live RSN feeds on the MVPD platform.
Yep, they are caught between a rock and a hard place! With not much in the way of live sports the value of the RSNs is lessened quite a bit. Yet from all indications Sinclair thinks they are worth more. That’s a really hard sell!
Well... I mean, every video service provider is dropping them. $20 from 4 million customers is still more than $0 from 200 million customers.
While no one actually knows what it would cost as a standalone or extra tier, conjecture is that it would be somewhat north of $20.
Wish Sinclair would go bankrupt!
Enough of them.
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AT&T TV and AT&T TV Now are now the only streaming cable TV services to offer the Sinclair RSNs (as well as certain other RSNs like Spectrum SportsNet LA, Altitude Sports, and the four AT&T SportsNet RSNs, I think).
I've been saying that for years but I have the unfortunate pleasure of living in a Sinclair local market where they own the local ABC station and control the local Fox station (owned by a Sinclair shell company) via a local marketing agreement.
Just looking at who offers my local ABC & Fox stations that Sinclair controls: Hulu + Live TV & YouTube TV still offer both the ABC & Fox stations. Somehow fuboTV managed to get the Fox station only but not ABC (I find that very odd.)
Something is telling me YouTube TV & Hulu + Live TV's agreement with the Fox Sports RSNs were possibly using a grandfathered Fox agreement that was in place before Sinclair got the RSNs and just expired. Sinclair apparently was able to tack on Marquee to Hulu's existing RSN agreement before it expired.
The only reason AT&T TV Now has the Sinclair RSNs was due to AT&T's contract for Sinclair's O&O local stations (i.e. my ABC affiliate) expiring and AT&T agreeing to combine the Sinclair RSNs into the main local retransmission consent agreement. Charter also did this. I remember during the AT&T-Sinclair spat AT&T did mention that Sinclair wanted to incorporate the existing RSNs at the time into the new agreement despite the then separate agreement for the RSNs was not up for renewal.
So I can see for Dish Network/Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV & YouTube TV facing a similar predicament in the future (like AT&T and Charter) when the local channel retransmission consent agreement expires. Sinclair would most likely pull their owned & operated locals in order to get them to carry their RSNs.
AT&T and Charter were just placed in the worst possible predicament which was lose the more valuable locals and keep the less valuable RSNs. Meanwhile Dish Network, Hulu + Live TV & YouTube TV currently have the better (but still bad) predicament of losing the less valuable RSNs but keep the O&O locals for the time being.
However, AT&T (via AT&T TV, AT&T TV Now, and DirecTV) offers entry-level packages that include locals and a decent variety of cable channels (including ESPN, FS1, NBCSN, TBS and TNT) but exclude all RSNs. IDK, maybe it's the same at Charter. (At Comcast, though, their Basic package has ONLY locals and then you step up to the Extra package which includes RSNs plus most the popular national cable nets.)
YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV, OTOH, only have one channel package (although they both offer certain little add-ons). Assuming Sinclair's RSN business survives, it'll be interesting to see if they can force those channels back into the main YTTV and Hulu Live packages (as a condition for retaining Sinclair's locals) or if those services end up restructuring into a base tier and an upper tier, with the RSNs (and certain other channels) in the upper tier, like AT&T has done.
The problem for the streaming services is that their subscriber count isn’t high enough to have much leverage to be able to do that.
AT&T TV and AT&T TV Now currently has Altitude, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, Fox Sports, MASN, Marquee, Root Sports Northwest, Spectrum SportsNet, Spectrum SportsNet LA, YES Network exclusively on streaming platforms.
Charter will have the Sinclair RSNs for a while just like AT&T's 4 video services like I mentioned above (AT&T and Charter were faced with losing Sinclair's O&O locals but keeping the RSNs which is the reverse of what happened to Dish Network, Hulu + Live TV & YouTube TV.)
Comcast recently came to an agreement for Marquee but Comcast intentionally dragged out that negotiation until the MLB season actually started. However Comcast's deal was a multi-year renewal of Sinclair's O&O locals and their RSNs including Marquee.
So AT&T (AT&T TV, DirecTV, AT&T TV Now & U-Verse TV), Charter & Comcast subscribers don't have to worry about potentially losing Sinclair's O&O locals & RSNs for a few years. Sinclair is defiantly willing to wait out the temporary loss of their RSNs on Dish Network/Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV & YouTube TV just to bundle them in the retransmission consent deal for their O&O locals.
Traditional MVPDs actually have restrictions placed on them by the FCC. Cable (Comcast/Charter) and Telco (U-Verse / FiOS) are mandated to provide a low cost option for locals & public interest channels. Each cable & telco provider must offer a low cost entry package for locals & PI channels which is price controlled. This is why all cable providers still offer a "Basic" package (for some cable providers you have to call to get this tier) and why telco's like AT&T U-Verse TV has a similar package called U-basic.
I'm not sure if satellite providers (like D* and E*) are subject to similar rules. D* customers who are not on an "All Included" pricing structure can get the Family package (which is priced around what cable & telco companies charge for their "Basic" tier.) D* customers on an "All Included" pricing structure have Select as the lowest package possible (which is way higher than what U-Verse's U-basic costs.) E* used to have a Welcome Pack (IIRC) but now their lowest package (according to myDish website) is Flex with Locals at $54.99/mo (which is higher than what a cable/telco's very basic packages cost.)
Streaming/Live OTT services are not subject to the FCC rules and their package(s) are based around their business model and possible leverage they can apply. AT&T TV Now & Sling TV has an advantage by being tied to traditional MVPD's contracts.
Hulu + Live TV and YouTube can defiantly do the AT&T TV Now approach with two packages the problem is RSNs have a "minimal subscriber quota" which if not meet could cause the MVPD/vMVPD to pay the RSN owner a big expensive fee. So if YTTV and Hulu create a 2nd base package and put the RSNs there they would need to ensure that package meets the MSQ. A major reason of Dish Network's dispute with Altitude, Fox Sports/Marquee/YES Network (Sinclair) and NBC Sports Chicago is the MSQ they impose.
There is zero reason any provider should even consider making a deal right now with Sinclair. It’d be a waste of money for at least the next two months if not longer. There’s no sports on them right now except a couple college football games of non top tier teams.
Let’s see what happens when baseball, basketball, and hockey all start back up.
With that said there is becoming less and less reason for them not to offer strait to consumer other than I’m guessing their agreements with all the teams and leagues.
It’s be interesting to know if they are trying to get provisions in these new contracts to allow them to sell strait to consumers streaming versions of their channels.
Also in the long run this could make DIRECTV more valuable. DIRECTV could dump some of the other channels and keep sports and come out ahead in the long run.
The PI rules are similar for satellite carriers except cable companies have local access channels where local content can be produced and carried. Satellite has to set aside a certain percentage of their channel capacity for non-commercial PI channels. The satellite carriers can charge no more than a basic rate that would cover the cost of transmitting the station. Many of the PIs are carried for free. A list of channels and price paid is on the FCC website under the public filings for DISH and DIRECTV. The channels are made available to all subscribers (but do not need to be available to non-subscribers). Satellite carriers have also made deals with additional commercial and non-commercial channels where the satellite company is paid to deliver the channels. The package level can vary on these deals (these are not PI channels).
The big difference between satellite and cable is local channels. Cable companies are required to offer local OTA stations to all subscribers - included in their base level packages. The number of local channels on each cable system is set by quota (although most cable systems are large enough that carrying all local stations is required). Satellite companies are not required to offer OTA stations at all - and when offered the companies are not required to include locals in any package. They are required to offer carriage to all stations within a market (no quota - carry all). Stations can refuse to be carried on any system ... so if a channel is missing most likely the station asked for more money than the carrier was willing to pay.
Sinclair leveraging their locals to force carriage of their RSNs is likely with the system where the RSNs are no longer carried. They will probably succeed unless the FCC steps in and blocks the bundling of services.
I've thought for awhile now that this is the logical end result that all the trends in media consolidation are pointing to: the sports leagues and their underlying teams running their own direct-to-consumer subscription packages, sold by both digital app stores as well as traditional MVPD distributors (much like HBO and Showtime are already distributed). Increasingly, media companies -- Disney, AT&T, ViacomCBS, NBCUniversal, etc. -- are producing their own content and selling it directly to the viewers, reducing the role of middle-men distributors and retaining more of the value for themselves. I don't see why the NBA, MLB, NHL, SEC, Big Ten, ACC, etc. don't eventually do that too as more and more consumers flee cable TV.
I could still imagine the leagues selling non-exclusive access to some of their games to broadcast TV networks, or to ESPN, to reach more casual viewers and increase ad revenue. But every game would be available through the league's own app and fans could buy a season pass for every game from every team in the league, or a cheaper season pass for every game from one specific team, or maybe a "pick 5" pass that would let you choose any 5 games to watch. And the league could offer select games to be streamed free by anyone, to encourage sampling and broaden reach. Basically, the way that MLB.tv already works, except with no local area blackout.
All depends on what those vMVPDs end up negotiating with Sinclair and how desperate Sinclair gets for carriage of their RSNs.
I find it odd that Comcast, as big as they are, doesn't offer something like AT&T's Entertainment package, which has a lot more than just locals but excludes RSNs and all but the most popular national sports channels. That seems like a way to retain some of those folks who want cable TV but want to keep costs down and can do without the RSNs (which increasingly seems to be the type of customer that the vMVPDs like YTTV and Hulu Live are targeting).
No doubt this is true, but these sports channels (I would think more specifically ESPN, although it's probably also true for RSNs) vastly over estimated their viewership when negotiating terms with various teams and leagues. ESPN probably looked at their sheets, and since they are included in basic tier cable, saw that they had 200-300 million (I actually have no clue what the actual number of basic cable subscribers is in the US) and thought that they gave them bargaining position to pay for rights to those teams/leagues. When in actuality the number of people that actually watch ESPN and the RSNs is a lot smaller.
So instead of negotiating like they had 200 million viewers, they should have been negotiating like they had 20 million viewers and not spent ludicrous amount of money on these contracts.
All of these sports channels are likely going to have to learn to operate in the red until these contracts are up and they can be renegotiated and these teams/leagues are going to get a lot less money from them.
It's true that Sinclair probably isn't going to be able to operate at cost with a $20/mo OTT offering. But if they raise that price to $50/mo then you may only see 1 million customers sign on at that price point. You have to find the happy medium so you can maximize revenue and operate less in the red.
To take some of the glow off that Entertainment package, at full retail it is $93/month. Of course if you look at it from a 2 year lock in, count whatever rebate that ATT is offering at the time of signup and average it out for the 2 years, it is about $67 and change or about the same as YTTV.
In another thread I showed where it is better to get it for a year, cancel, pay the ETF and move to almost anyone else and still save money.
Meanwhile, Comcast's mid-level Extra package has a full retail price that's about $10/mo more than that when you include the fees for RSNs, local broadcast nets, and DVR. (AT&T TV's Entertainment package has no additional fees on top, as locals and DVR service are included.)