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.