MLB has long been tied to regional sports networks for local broadcasts but is now in talks to launch a streaming service that would allow fans to watch hometown teams without a cable subscription.
The NBA and NHL could team up with MLB to create a local sports streaming package, which would exist alongside cable broadcasts and MLB’s out-of-market streaming service MLB TV.
The new service could range from $10 to $20 per month, depending on geographic region.
- The move sets up tricky negotiations with Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair bought the rights to 21 RSNs from Disney in 2019 in a deal worth as much as $10.6 billion, borrowing $8.2 billion to fund the deal.
- Bally’s bought the naming rights for those networks, which broadcast 16 NBA teams, 14 MLB teams, and 12 NHL teams, in a 10-year, $85 million deal in March.
- MLB could reduce the roughly $1 billion Sinclair pays annually for broadcasting rights to the league to gain its approval of the new service.
Dish Network has been shedding RSNs, dropping MASN and NBC Sports Network in March and AT&T SportsNet last month. Dish lost around 66,000 subscribers after dropping Sinclair’s RSNs in 2019.
MLB viewership was down 12% from 2019 in the 2021 season, but MLB TV had its best year since its 2002 launch, with viewers watching 10.5 billion minutes of content.