The move will affect around a half-dozen NBC Sports-branded regional networks, including:
- NBC Sports Boston
- NBC Sports Bay Area
- NBC Sports California
- NBC Sports Northwest (Portland/Seattle)
- NBC Sports Philadelphia
- NBC Sports Washington
Sling TV will also drop SportsNet NY, a regional sports channel that is partially owned by Comcast, the parent company of NBC Sports.
The decision to remove the NBC Sports regional channels follows a trend at Dish Network where the satellite and streaming company has decided not to renew agreements with regional sports programmers as carriage fees for those channels continue to increase.
In an interview with the television marketing blog The Streamable, a Sling TV executive said regional sports networks “are a terrible deal for customers.”
Other companies, including AT&T TV, Google-owned YouTube TV and Disney’s Hulu with Live TV, have stomached the increase in order to attract and retain subscribers. But those increased fees have been passed on to customers in the form of higher bills.
Some streaming services — specifically, sports-centric Fubo TV — have experimented with charging customers a regional sports fee in markets where the platform has a deal to distribute regional sports networks. The fee resembles one charged by traditional cable and satellite companies where those sports channels are distributed alongside other, bundled networks.
In recent years, Dish Network has aggressively moved away from this model: While it still charges some subscribers a regional sports fee, it has made the decision to drop low-rated regional sports channels, including ones operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group under the Fox Sports (now Bally Sports) brand.
Charles Ergen, Dish Network’s founder and chairman, has suggested in public comments that once those sports networks are dropped by Dish Network and Sling TV, they’re unlikely to return in the future.