As shoppers reduce cable solutions in favor of streaming platforms, regional sports networks are at danger of going beneath. In the initially quarter of 2023, an estimated two.three million Americans ditched regular cable packages. And as far more Americans move toward streaming platforms, these regional cable networks are losing far more income.
“Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Ben Strauss, a sports and media reporter for The Washington Post, about how regional sports networks are fairing as far more Americans pass on cable, and what this could imply for sports fans about the nation.
The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Kai Ryssdal: For these probably unfamiliar, what specifically are regional sports networks?
Ben Strauss: They are cable networks that for the previous 20 to 30 years have shown just about each a single of your favored baseball, hockey and NBA teams.
Ryssdal: And regional, as it implies, is not a national issue. It is every single area, you know, there is a network for every single and each area and group, correct?
Strauss: Specifically. So, the teams in Dallas are on a single network. In Chicago, up till lately, the Cubs and the White Sox and the Bulls and Blackhawks are on the very same network.
Ryssdal: OK. And the point of this piece, and the issue that really may well transform sports, as we type of know it, is that these regional sports networks are going broke, fundamentally.
Strauss: Fundamentally, they are in deep difficulty. Basically, as men and women leave cable, the charges that they had been paying to these networks that these networks, then in turn, had been paying to these teams are dropping substantially. And a single of the major owners of these networks, a organization named Diamond Sports, filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year. And there are teams that have not received their rights payments, which is potentially landscape-altering for sports.
Ryssdal: So, the leagues have a vested interest in saving these regional sports networks. What are they performing?
Strauss: So, various leagues are performing various items. Various teams, in truth, are performing various items. Baseball does not think in this organization — this Diamond Sports organization. And so, baseball would sort of like to have all these teams pull their rights back and build some sort of item that you could see on cable that you could stream straight by itself. Most NHL and NBA teams would sort of like to see this model milked for all the things it is worth as extended as the checks are nevertheless cashing for the subsequent couple of years. So, it is a small bit of a hodgepodge, and it is absolutely not particular how it is going to play out.
Ryssdal: Messy sounds like a superior word right here, correct?
Strauss: Yes, yes, you are superior at this.
Ryssdal: So appear, spare a believed for me right here for the fans, who all they want to do is watch their teams, and now for the reason that streaming is up and in cable tv, and for the reason that the league’s want income, and the regional sports networks are going broke, what’s a fan supposed to do?
Strauss: Properly, so genuinely exciting query about getting a sports fan for the final although, correct? 1 of the factors that these networks have been so useful is that all of these men and women who didn’t watch sports, had been paying for them. Everyone has a cable subscription, and everybody’s paying 3, 4 or 5 even six dollars a month for that regional sports network, even if they do not watch a minute. And so, it is sort of in this á la carte model exactly where men and women are leaving the cable bundle., eventually, the teams sort of have this decision, like do you want to attain far more men and women, and do you assume about anything on broadcast TV—which is a genuinely old college issue that would make the games readily available to a massive quantity of men and women. Diamond is fighting that. and so do you want to attain the most quantity of fans, or do you want to gather the most quantity of income by going on to a streaming service exactly where men and women have to spend far more to obtain you? And, it is sort of this balancing act.
Ryssdal: And the catch is that you can not have them each, correct?
Strauss: The catch is you can not have them each. And so eventually, I would assume that sports fans are going to finish up paying far more for their sports.