Tuesday, February 28, 2023

More regional sports networks troubles

There have been news reports that Bally Sports will be declaring bankruptcy soon, and those regional sports networks will be shuttered. If this happens, that will impact lots of sports fans.

Of course, the fact that there aren't enough customers for the Bally regional sports networks (RSNs) means that not enough people will care to prevent it from happening.

Now, there is word that AT&T SportsNet RSNs will be closing down, according to the Wall Street Journal:

In a letter sent Friday from the unit's president Patrick Crumb -- a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal -- teams were warned that "the business will not have sufficient cash to pay the upcoming rights fees," people familiar with the letter said. The teams were also told that Warner Bros. Discovery "will not fund our shortfalls," they said.

The letter proposes that AT&T SportsNet transfer ownership of the networks and programming rights to the teams for no purchase price consideration beyond a release by the teams of any future claims against the networks.

Bankruptcy is also on the table, the letter said. ...

The affected teams include the National Basketball Association's Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz; Major League Baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies; and the National Hockey League's Pittsburgh Penguins, the people familiar with the matter said.

The NBA, MLB and NHL are also being informed by Warner Bros. Discovery of the situation, the people said.

This is bad news. Or maybe it's good news. NBC has been having trouble with Peacock recently, mostly because other services have more in-demand content. However, NBC has been moving a lot of sports programming to Peacock. Ryan Downey, The Streaming Advisor, suggests this is the way for Peacock to grab viewers:

With Peacock growing but still needing to add content that will give it an edge or at least seriously differentiate it in the market it may be able to make sense of purchasing the sports networks and integrating them into the fold. They feel like they would fit in with the $9.99 tier. Does Comcast have the money and the know-how to make it all work? The company already pulled its own sports network NBC Sports Network into the app. With the combined coverage area of NBC Sports and Bally Sports footprint Peacock could begin to put together something of a national footprint across NBA, NHL, and NBA markets.

How will all this shake out? I suspect Mr. Downey is right, and that Peacock could take advantage of the Bally Sports bankruptcy (should it happen) and now the AT&T SportsNet shutdown (should it happen).

How will this impact everyone? My Streaming Life may be impacted in a positive way if baseball allows live in-market games via the RSNs, or on Peacock. Otherwise, I really don't care that much about the RSNs. I'm like most people, it seems. However, I do want the RSNs to survive. Or better put, the content on RSNs to be available to consumers via streaming in some way.

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