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Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Regional Sports Networks Dropped from Hulu Live TV Bundles

All 21 regional sports networks controlled by Diamond Sports Group, a consortium led by Sinclair Broadcast Group, along with the Yes Network and Marquee network have been eradicated from Hulu’s live TV bundle as of midnight, Friday, October 23rd. 3.4 million Hulu subscribers will no longer have the ability to tune in and watch their favorite NBA, NHL, or MLB teams compete in real-time. While Sinclair endeavored to come to an amicable and adequate agreement, Hulu was reluctant to grant the regional sports networks equitable return for their valuable local sports content.  

As of October 23rd, consumers with Hulu subscriptions will have to look elsewhere to access the Regional Sports Network’s content, but there are still many options.  You can view Sinclair’s RSNs on most major cable platforms, as well as DirectTV and AT&T Now.

“While we offered Hulu a deal consistent with terms agreed to by other distributors, the streaming service refused to accept these fair and market-based terms,”  said Barry Faber, Sinclair’s president of distribution and network relations.  “It is unfortunate that Hulu has chosen to take away some of the most popular sports programming on TV from millions of subscribers, particularly given that Hulu has promised its subscribers that it has live sports.” 

How Much Live TV Sports Can Hulu Say They Have Now?

During the last three months and with assistance from bright green backdrops and a few of your favorite athletes, Hulu has run an impactful ad campaign announcing live sports were returning to the streaming services live tv packages. Now, the Disney-owned streaming service will offer a fair percentage less than originally intended. 

A Concise List Of Programming Lost (By Regional Network and Professional Team)

Important facts to remember about Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Regional Sports Network Programming as you look through this extensive list:

  • The Sinclair RSNs are the only way for fans to watch most of the home team games.  
  • Even the leagues black out the local games on league packages (Extra Innings, League Pass, and Center Ice).  
  • The exact number of games varies in each market, but we deliver as many as the total number of games listed below including pre-season, regular season, and postseason.  
  • As a general rule, where we have full regional rights, the number of regular-season games is around 155 for MLB and 70 for the NBA and NHL.  It varies year-to-year depending on game selection by national rights holders.
  • Just to reiterate: This is the only way fans can watch the overwhelming majority of their home team games.  

The following networks (and the professional teams aired on each) will no longer be available to sports fans through HULU live tv subscriptions:

Network  

           Team     # of Games Aired in 2019

FS North:

  • o   Twins (MLB):                                      170 
  • o   Timberwolves (NBA):                       76 
  • o   Lynx (WNBA):                                    15 
  • o   Wild (NHL):                                        76 
  • o   Loons (MLS):                                      16 
  • o   Univ of MN Men’s Hockey:             20

FS Wisconsin: 

  • o   Milwaukee Brewers (MLB):            171 
  • o   Milwaukee Bucks (NBA):                 81
  • o   Wisconsin Badger Hockey:              10 
  • o   Wisc HS Championships:                 27 
  • o   Minnesota Wild (NHL):                    72 
  • o   MN United FC (MLS):                       16 

FS Detroit:

  • o   Detroit Tigers (MLB):                       171
  • o   Detroit Red Wings (NHL):                81
  • o   Detroit Pistons (NBA):                      89

FS Arizona:

  • o   Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB):       171
  • o   Phoenix Suns (NBA):                        76
  • o   Phoenix Coyotes (NHL):                   83
  • o   San Diego Padres (MLB):                 150 

YES Network: 

  • o   New York Yankees (MLB):               142
  • o   Brooklyn Nets (NBA):                       75 
  • o   New York Liberty (WNBA):              16 
  • o   NYC FC (MLS):                                    24

FS SUN/FS Florida:

  • o   Tampa Bay Rays (MLB):                   168
  • o   Tampa Bay Lighting (NHL):              71 
  • o   Miami Heat (NBA):                           82
  • o   New Orleans Pelicans (NBA):          32 
  • o   ACC Football (NCAA):                       2
  • o   ACC Men’s Basketball (NCAA):       20
  • o   Miami Marlins (MLB):                      165
  • o   Orlando Magic (NBA):                      87 
  • o   Florida Panthers (NHL):                   82 
  • o   ACC Football (NCAA):                       11

FS Midwest/FS Kansas City/FS Indiana:

  • o   St. Louis Cardinals (MLB):                166
  • o   Kansas City Royals (MLB):               171
  • o   Cincinnati Reds (MLB):                     161
  • o   Detroit Tigers (MLB):                       160
  • o   Minnesota Twins (MLB):                 27 
  • o   Milwaukee Brewers (MLB):            11
  • o   St. Louis Blues (NHL):                       78 
  • o   Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA):      71 
  • o   Indiana Pacers (NBA):                      81 
  • o   Detroit Pistons (NBA):                      71
  • o   Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA):   72
  • o   Memphis Grizzlies (NBA):                63

FS Ohio/SportsTime Ohio:

  • o   Cincinnati Reds (MLB):                     172
  • o   Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA):              80
  • o   Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL):        82 
  • o   Columbus Crew (MLS):                    21 
  • o   Cleveland Indians (MLB):                 166

FS Southwest/FS Oklahoma/FS New Orleans:

  • o   Texas Rangers (MLB):                       166
  • o   Dallas Mavericks (NBA):                  68 
  • o   Dallas Stars (NHL):                            88
  • o   San Antonio Spurs (NBA):               55 
  • o   New Orleans Pelicans (NBA):          72 
  • o   Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA):      64 
  • o   Memphis Grizzlies (NBA):                83
  • o   St. Louis Cardinals (MLB):                159

FS West/FS San Diego/Prime Ticket:

  • o   Anaheim Angels (MLB):                   178 
  • o   Los Angeles Kings (NHL):                 74 
  • o   San Diego Padres (MLB):                 177
  • o   Anaheim Ducks (NHL):                     53 
  • o   Los Angeles Clippers (NBA):            78
  • o   Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB):       153 

FS South/FS Tennessee/FS Carolinas

  • o   Atlanta Braves (MLB):                      75
  • o   Atlanta United (MLS):                      7
  • o   Cincinnati Reds (MLB):                     60
  • o   St. Louis Cardinals (MLB):                159 
  • o   Carolina Hurricanes (NHL):             80
  • o   Nashville Predators (NHL):              76 
  • o   Memphis Grizzlies (NBA):                46 
  • o   Indiana Pacers (NBA):                      30

FS Southeast:

  • o   Atlanta Braves (MLB):                      81 
  • o   Cincinnati Reds (MLB):                     83 
  • o   Atlanta Hawks (NBA):                      82
  • o   St. Louis Cardinals (MLB):                61
  • o   Memphis Grizzlies (NBA):                83 
  • o   Charlotte Hornets (NBA):                83
  • o   New Orleans Pelicans (NBA):          18

Marquee: 

  • o   Chicago Cubs:                                    165 
  • o   ACC Football (NCAA):                       13
  • o   ACC Men’s Basketball (NCAA):       39

When you look at nationwide totals, that is 82 college and professional teams from various sports and leagues and a total of 6,904 live games lost. Does Hulu believe it’s fair to charge their customers the same or more money for a live TV sports package that promised hundreds of hours of live programming for 82 teams and almost 7,000 live sporting events for 2021 and now simply can’t deliver it?

The Intricacies of the Sports Programming Market

Hulu is the largest online cable distributor in the United States with more than three million subscriptions.  Disney, Hulu’s parent company, is a vertically integrated media and entertainment conglomerate that owns production studios, theme parks, a national broadcast network (ABC), and streaming services such as Disney+. Disney has also acquired numerous cable channels including the ESPN family of sports networks which compete directly against Sinclair’s regional sports networks in the sports programming market.  Disney has a market cap of $223 billion. The media empire’s cap is 159 times larger than that of Sinclair Broadcast Group, which has a market cap of $1.4 billion).

To our knowledge, Disney-owned ESPN (and its related networks), as well as the regional sports networks owned by Comcast (Hulu’s minority owner), which all compete in the same sports programming market, are carried on Hulu’s (main) live tv packages. These are offered at no additional fee to the consumer.

Antitrust Concerns?

The history around these partnerships is also interesting to note. In 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) did not allow Disney to purchase the RSNs from Fox due to Disney’s ownership of ESPN. The DOJ’s primary concern was a probable monopoly Disney would have on the live sports programming market if allowed ownership of ESPN and all FOX regional sport’s networks, causing certain disadvantages to competitors in that arena..  The DOJ’s concerns also extended to Disney’s possible ability to weaken the RSNs after they were purchased by another company.  

Now, Disney, the parent company and partial owner of Hulu, seems to be doing just that. In stifling talks with Sinclair, Disney, in turn, kept the regional sport’s networks they were previously not allowed to purchase off of all Hulu Live TV packaging . Is there a possibility that the carriage of ESPN and Comcast and the exclusion of their major programming competitors, Sinclair’s regional sports networks, draw the eye of the DOJ or potentially a private suit?  Only time will tell.

Sinclair Broadcast’s Willingness to Continue Talks

A spokesperson from Sinclair Broadcast Group stated that the company remains ready to negotiate in good faith to ensure that consumers do not experience further loss of their favorite local sports programming. Sinclair hopes to agree to fair terms with the streaming service in order to provide fans the ability to tune-in and watch their favorite teams when professional seasons return to the airwaves at the beginning of 2021. 

Sinclair Broadcast Group believes its viewers should always remain at the forefront. Especially in times of pandemic, it is most important to keep the interests of the American public as their number one priority and recognize the importance of providing consumers with the facility to watch their favorite live sports programming from the safety of their own homes. 

Lindsay Shearer
Lindsay Shearer is a world renowned SEO Expert, & Lead Generation Specialist & Publication Editor. Her Specialty? Helping entrepreneurs start online businesses, write books, grow traffic & lead conversion, through SEO, Free & Paid Advertising. Check Out More: https://launchmasterymarketing.com
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