This morning Hulu announced that they would no longer be carrying Fox Sports Region Sports Networks, YES Network, and Marquee Network from their streaming package as of October 23rd. That’s tomorrow.

What does that mean as far as being able to watch Cincinnati Reds games? Right now, nothing. There aren’t going to be any Reds games on Fox Sports Ohio until March and spring training gets going. There’s a whole lot of time between October 23rd and March for Sinclair, who owns the Fox Sports Regional Networks, to work out a deal.

With that said, this isn’t a good look. Ever since Sinclair bought the Fox Sports Regional Sports Networks they’ve had a problem coming to agreements with various cable companies. Dish Network has been without Fox Sports RSN’s for over a year. When the Chicago Cubs launched the Marquee Network in partnership with Sinclair, they struggled to come to an agreement with cable providers in Chicago – leaving many fans without the ability to watch games.

It’s not just Hulu and Dish Network that are having problems with the demands being made by Sinclair to carry these stations. Among the “streaming cable” options, only AT&T Now offers all of them. And the cheapest option among their packaging that brings you one of these networks, it’s $79.99 a month. Hulu, Sling TV (which is owned by Dish Network), Youtube TV, fuboTV, and Philo all fail to offer Fox Sports Ohio, as well as many other options among the Sinclair sports owned networks. You can see the full list at The Streamable if it’s something you are interested in.

This year, before the baseball season began, Fox Sports RSN’s came to a deal with many of the “streaming” cable services, but in a way that wasn’t like it had ever been in the past. Fox Sports Ohio, for example, was available in the greater Cincinnati area. But areas just outside of the greater Cincinnati area who had always gotten Fox Sports Ohio as a part of their television package no longer did and it left much of “Reds Country” without Fox Sports Ohio. Many were left with just their local version of Fox Sports (whatever city), which may or may not have shown Reds games.

While on the surface, you can make sense of it. But when historically people in, say, Nashville have had access to Fox Sports Ohio and Fox Sports (Tennessee?), and it’s provided them with options to watch the Reds and say, the Braves, and now they just get the option to watch the Braves – that’s bad for the Reds and it’s bad for baseball in general. That’s what played out all over the country this past year – fans of baseball had fewer options of watching baseball. It’s worth noting that the Cincinnati Reds are also part owners of Fox Sports Ohio. Many teams in the last decade have acquired partial ownership of their regional sports network in their television deals with said networks to carry their games. While Sinclair is the majority owner of these stations, many teams are also invested in these networks that are being kept from their fans.

As noted above – there’s a lot of time between now and the start of 2021 Major League Baseball. When the phone lines start lighting up, and the emails and social media accounts get overwhelmed in February and March if people can’t watch games of their baseball team, things could change. For now, those who utilize Hulu for their streaming cable service – it’s just a long waiting game.

15 Responses

  1. joshG

    wait, when did youtube tv quit carrying it?

    • Doug Gray

      I believe it was over the weekend.

    • Michael

      I’m done playing the game. I’ll never go back to traditional cable and I’ll never understand why they make it so hard to consume their product.

      Streaming providers are trying to keep costs down for the masses and baseball fans lose out. The guidelines for blackouts are absurd. I’m willing to pay for, but being in-market 2.5 hours away from GABP prevents me from doing so. At this point, entertainment options are vast and I’ll spend my money and time on something that is more accessible to me. For the Reds I’ll follow on twitter and/or MLB gamecast.

  2. Sliotar

    It is a sad state of affairs.

    I consider it great that I live just far enough outside of MLB’s convoluted in-market system (North Side of Columbus) to pay for MLB.TV and get all the Reds games.

    Should not be that way. At all.

    I keep getting the feeling that, within 10 years, MLB is going to be like the NBA, or top-flight cricket in England …. a niche for mostly middle-class and upwards folks to attend, with higher costs to even watch live.

    And the owners will be just fine with that arrangement, as long as revenues go up.

    • Rednat

      well said Sliotar. i was just reflecting with my son. we talked about the times we would take the old metro city bus to fountain square for 65 cents and then walk to the stadium and purchase “top 6 tickets” for 3.50. we would then spend the first few innings trying to sneak down to the green seats. this was in the 1990s, not 1900’s by the way.

      now it will be 25 bucks to park and 150 dollars to sit in an “assigned seat” that you will have to reserve months in advance on the reds website. not too thrilling to me at all!

  3. Mark Moore

    My lost FS South a little while ago. I don’t miss it.

    This silliness happens far too frequently. Usually somebody blinks and this time it was the providers.

    Glad I’m in North Carolina entirely out of that market so my will provide all the games that don’t involve Baltimore or Washington.

    • jim walker

      You don’t know what you are missing 😉

      Not quite a year ago I reached my bailout point on Spectrums pricing merry go round which meant I needed to jump off into streaming for 6 months or so to reset myself to their “new customer” price on cable although I would have to continue their internet unbundled because they are only broadband choice at my locale.

      Sony Playstation Vue streaming service which I had used on the previous iteration of this game was in the process of shutting down so I went with YouTube TV. 2 months in, YTTV announced they were dropping FSN; so I started to look at other options but then YTTV and FSN struck a deal. But out of the blue a week later Spectrum sends me an email offering their entry level bundling prices for broadband and cable which I jumped on because at least hat should give me a couple of years of tranquility.

      As has been said elsewhere in this thread, why not just offer FSN as direct streamer. Of course Doug answered that one in his reply to that comment, $$$.

  4. CI3J

    Yet more greed that is going to kill the Golden Goose.

    I really wonder what the plan is for MLB going forward. It’s become a very boring product, both with how the game is played, and with the personalities inside the game. Remember when baseball players could endorse products on the national stage, like the biggest NBA and NFL stars do now? When was the last time that happened? Where’s the marketability? What’s going to make a young kid say “I wanna grow up to be a baseball player!”?

    As to the product on the field… I know the shift has been around for a long time, but I don’t remember it being used against nearly every single left handed hitter out there. It’s basically made being a left handed hitter a liability. And apparently no one knows how to bunt down the line or hit the other way any more?

    And now this. Baseball is being strangled and locking out potential fans on television. How are you going to get more people to sign up for MLBTV if they just aren’t interested in the sport in the first place?

    I agree with what a poster above said. It seems like baseball is in a downward spiral, and the end result is going to be that it becomes a niche sport. Truly amazing that a sport that used to be our National Pastime and had the glitz and glamor to go with it has now become so inconsequential and uninteresting. What used to be a national sport has now become very localized, and yes, these TV deals are making it worse.

    As sad as it may be to say it, I think the Steroid Era was the last time baseball truly felt fun and seemed to matter. I still enjoy the sport, but it’s because I enjoy the technical aspect of it, hanging on every pitch. For a casual fan, who just wants to see people hit the ball, catch the ball, and throw the ball, I can understand why baseball would be a huge turnoff now. And having these TV deals making it even more inaccessible to potential fans just compounds that problem.

    Unless things change, I see only darker days ahead for MLB. And it’s all because of greed, in some form or another, and an unwillingness to adapt.

  5. Hotto4Votto

    Baseball is backwards when it comes to actually trying to get people to watch their games. Can’t watch on MLB TV app because it’s blacked out (even without fans this year), and they haven’t been on Sling since last July. I think I’ve seen only a handful of games on ESPN since last July (2019) that wasn’t at a sports bar. I’d gladly give them money for the MLB TV app if I could actually watch the games.

    • Doug Gray

      They don’t really want your MLBtv money. They want your cable subscription money because that also means they get that $8 from the 35,000 people a month who have zero interest in watching FS Whatever, but have to pay that fee because the channel exists in their “basic” lineup.

  6. Jim Walker

    We are baseball oriented here but stuff will start hitting the fan a lot sooner than March because the Fox Regionals are also heavily involved in both the NBA and NHL.

  7. Jim Walker

    Gotta wonder if Sinclair is just waiting for enough contracts to expire to allow them to launch their own streaming service a la PeacockTV, Disney+ and btw as nearly as I can find Disney also owns controlling interest in Hulu.

  8. Brady

    I thought this was more provider thing, but it definitely seems as though it’s more Sinclair than YouTube TV, Hulu, etc.

    But as others have mentioned, this is MLB, so we shouldn’t be surprised at all. It’s the least fan friendly experience of all the major sports (when it comes to watching on TV) and it really is like they either won’t or don’t realize they need to adapt. If you’re really that concerned with in person attendance, lower the amount of games to 150 or less and people will show up.

    From a viewer standpoint this is one of the most frustrating things I deal with when it comes to choosing a cable provider.