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Comcast & DISH Are Pushing Back on the High Costs of Sports Programming as Cord Cutting Grows

basketball fans watching tvIt looks like cord cutting is forcing cable TV and satellite TV providers to push back against the high cost of content with sports content being one of the main areas.

Recently we saw DISH along with their streaming service Sling TV drop FOX regional sports networks. Later, DISH and Sling TV also dropped NBC Sports Chicago from their lineup. More recently, Comcast and DISH dropped the Denver-based Altitude Sports.

According to Altitude Sports, Comcast is asking them to take cuts of 50% to 70% compared to their last contract.

DISH has even come out and stated that it is “unlikely” DISH or Sling TV will be getting FOX regional sports networks. During DISH’s second quarter 2019 earnings call, DISH executives pushed the idea of how costly FOX RSNs are and how few viewers really watch them. DISH did acknowledge they do expect to lose subscribers but hope the ones who stay will get a price break. Hopefully, this means Sling TV and DISH customers see a price cut.

DISH went on to say during their third quarter 2019 earnings call that the subscribers who want RSNs have likely already left their service. This has left DISH to feel that the benefit of paying high prices to get FOX RSNs back would likely not be money well spent.

DISH sent Cord Cutters News this statement about the future of FOX RSNs on DISH and Sling TV: “We are always willing to engage in proposals that are fair for our customers, but based upon Sinclair’s offer, we have not reached a deal to bring the FOX RSNs back to Sling customers. At this time, we believe it is unlikely that we will come to an agreement to restore this programming. The price that Sinclair is demanding for these channels is not a good economic deal for Sling TV or for our customers.”

This marks a dramatic shift in the world of pay TV. These moves by DISH and Comcast are likely one of the reasons that MLB owners voted to take back rights for in-market streaming of MLB games. According to a report, the Yankees are working with Amazon to offer a streaming option for games airing on YES networks.

NBA TV this year for the first time offered an option to subscribe directly to NBA TV to watch nationally aired games as well as studio programming without cable TV.

The NFL announced that they are looking at a possible new streaming partnership with Amazon. They stopped short of what that partnership would look like, but NFL Sunday Ticket’s contract with DIRECTV will be coming to an end after the 2020–2021 season.

The question now is how far will this go. Could we soon see more cord cutting–friendly streaming services from the likes of the NFL, NBA, and MLB? Or will cable TV companies win out and get better deals for rights to air sporting events?

What is clear is the days of paying anything to get sporting events seems to be coming to an end.

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