In Cincinnati, and even outside markets, the Reds games are shown on Fox Sports. That network here in Cincinnati is Fox Sports Ohio. But that may differ where you live. You may not even be able to get that station in Cincinnati depending on who you use for your “cable” services. Dish Network and Sling have both been without Fox Sports Ohio for more than half of the year – both losing out on parts of last season’s Reds games. Add Youtube TV to the what feels like expanding list of services that will no longer be carrying Fox Sports Ohio.
On Thursday afternoon Youtube TV announced that they could not reach an agreement with Sinclair Broadcasting Group, who owns the Fox Sports Regional Sports networks, and beginning on February 29th, will no longer offer any Fox Sports RSN’s on their services. This is for more than just the Cincinnati Reds being affected here. This actually pulls 16 teams off of Youtube TV around the country.
Basically, if you're a fan of the #Angels, #Braves, #Brewers, #Cardinals, #Cubs, #Diamondbacks, #Indians, #Marlins, #Padres, #Rangers, #Rays, #Reds, #Royals, #Tigers, #Twins or #Yankees it's time to shop around … and without Sling as well the streaming options are limited. https://t.co/u3LcqNkWAg
— Cory McCartney (@coryjmccartney) February 27, 2020
When the rumors began to swirl last May that Sinclair was likely to win out in purchasing the Fox Sports RSN’s, Craig Edwards of Fangraphs wrote about how that was likely going to lead to some problems with how many people would actually be able to watch games because of how Sinclair had been dealing with various broadcast rights fees in the past. He even noted a hypothetical situation specific to Cincinnati within.
In January we saw Playstation Vue cease operations. Now we’ve got Sling and Youtube TV not offering Fox Sports Ohio. Among streaming services, I believe that leaves only Hulu Live TV offering Fox Sports Ohio. Dish Network doesn’t offer it as an option. Directv still does. As do both Spectrum and Cincinnati Bell Fioptics. In some cases, if you are rural enough, satellite is the only option you have because there isn’t a local “cable” company and your internet simply isn’t fast enough to stream – even in 2020.
What makes all of this even worse is that while Sinclair is the majority stake holder in these regional sports networks, many teams – including the Cincinnati Reds – own undisclosed amounts of these operations, too. That means that the Reds, via Sinclair, by asking for higher carriage fees for Fox Sports Ohio (and possibly other Sinclair owned stations as a part of a bundle to make Sinclair more money overall), are actively keeping their product from being seen by the exact people they want to see it – their fans.
This is just another thing that is going to kill Major League Baseball. They continue to wonder why young people don’t get into the game while they do literally every thing that they can to make it expensive to attend a game, watch a game, see highlights. Fans in Houston have gone YEARS without having access to Astros games. The same can be said for fans in Los Angeles with Dodgers games. No other company on the planet makes it more difficult for fans of their product to participate in the enjoyment of their product than Major League Baseball. That means that, assuming this isn’t fixed later today, that 18 teams will not be available on at least one major service in their city.
The state of Iowa doesn’t have a single Major League Baseball team in it. And yet they are blacked out from watching games from the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers, and the St. Louis Cardinals. When blackout rules were invented it was with the idea that getting fans to come to the game was far more valuable than letting them watch the games at home. Today that isn’t remotely close to the case. Every game is available on television – assuming of course, you can actually get the channel – and teams make way more money on their broadcasting rights than they do at the gate.
Major League Baseball needs to get it figured out. Short term profits over long term growth for a business that isn’t going to fail to make payroll next week is incredibly stupid. But it seems that the powers that be in baseball are operating almost entirely on profits today over the growth of their product in the long term. And eventually that’s going to kill the sport that has already been watching itself decline in popularity for three decades.
Updated February 29 at 12:34am
At least for now, Youtube TV will be keeping Fox Sports Ohio. According to the official Youtube twitter account, they have agreed to a temporary extension to keep things going.
Negotiations are still underway! In the meantime, we've agreed to a temporary extension. FOX RSNs and YES Network are still available on YT TV while we work to reach an agreement. We’ll send out an update as soon as we have more info on a resolution.
— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) February 29, 2020
Updated: March 5th
Eric Fisher of Sports Business is reporting that Sinclair and YoutubeTV have agreed to a deal that has approved 19 of the 22 Regional Sports Networks to remain on YoutubeTV. While all of the 19 weren’t listed, the three that are not on the deal were – and Fox Sports Ohio wasn’t on the list. Deductive reasoning suggests that would mean that it will be remaining on YoutubeTV.