RSN Flexibility, Sports TV Desires: New Legacy Pay TV Life?

Charter Communications isn’t the only pay TV provider finding new life by pushing legacy media owners to allow them to add and sell streaming options to the traditional live, linear pay TV package.

DirecTV has renewed its deal with the financially troubled Diamond Sports Group, giving consumers the flexibility to access streaming sports content -- local sports programming on the Bally Sports app -- that originated on Diamond's live, linear TV regional sports networks (RSNs).

This is similar to separate deals Charter Communications and Cox Communications recently made with Diamond Sports Group.

All this gives new life to traditional video pay TV network bundlers when it comes to consumers' desire to shift to those shiny new objects -- premium video streaming services.



Last November, Charter and Walt Disney made a groundbreaking deal allowing Charter to sell and package Disney's streaming services -- with Disney+ and ESPN among them -- while also dropping some lower-performing Disney cable TV channels.

The interesting part of the equation is the future trend line for TV sports -- a key programming piece for linear TV and streaming platforms.

It isn't just more flexibility for traditional pay TV consumers, but also for pay TV companies now looking to find some upside when some other businesses are slowing down. This includes broadband and mobile phone services.

These deals help Diamond Sports Group -- the biggest RSN-owned company -- as it continues to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

a,pa.But not everything is smooth. Earlier this week negotiations between pay TV provider Comcast Corp., and Diamond Sports broke down with Bally Sports-brands RSNs now going dark. For consumers currently that means no access to local TV games of 11 Major League Baseball teams.

Analysts believe Comcast wants to put the RSNs on a separate pay tier.

The major difference for Diamond versus Disney is that Diamond comes into these carriage negotiations in a position of incredible financial weakness --- even as its content -- sports programming -- is viewed as a teflon of sorts.

For a long time, proponents of RSNs believed their content -- sports -- could do no wrong, and that consumers would continue to buy in despite ever higher monthly subscription costs.

Now situations for those RSNs are different. Financial carriage fees based on overall consumer reach coverage guarantees are much more flexible, according to executives. Ever higher premiums for advertisers, distributors and customers for sports on TV have their limits. 

Beyond RSNs, who will be the first to throw in the towel if and when sports leagues ramp up the score and get too greedy?

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