Regional sports networks are starting to feel the impact of low-cost live TV streaming services, according to a new report out of The Information which credits various people in the industry for the details. According to the report, select sports networks have effectively seen themselves being priced out of inclusion in streaming bundles, and specifically when it comes to the “skinny” variety.
Skinny bundles, by definition are leaner live TV options which look to reduce the price as much as possible by omitting the inclusion of high price entities. Typically speaking, access to sports networks are often used as one of the primary examples of this type of cost-cutting exercise, and therefore the very cheapest of live TV options nearly always do not include access to sports. Moving up the skinny scale a little and the more robust packages that typically cost around $40 per month do include access to sports, although the sports are usually ones that are already tied to larger entertainment entities and deals, as is the case with FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 (21st Century Fox) and NBC Sports (Comcast). As a result, even at the less-skinny and somewhat sports-inclusive level, regional sports networks are still finding themselves largely left out of the frame.
The report also picks up on how this is only the beginning of the issue as while cord-cutting and low-cost live TV solutions have started to grow in adoption, the level of growth expected over the next few years is set to be massive by comparison. One recent prediction, for example, suggests by 2022, almost one fifth of the US adult population will be cord-cutters. Citing similar figures and predictions, this latest report suggests the future climate could prove to be a real threat to the very existence of these regional sports networks. Suggesting that if skinny bundles do not change in the near future to be more inclusive of regional sports networks, it may actually have to be the sports networks that change. With one possibility being the banding together of various local sports networks to form one grater entity that in itself might prove more appealing and cost-competitive. Another option being local sports networks picking up backing from a major player in the industry. For example, Amazon.