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Arizona sports fans are steaming about their inability to watch Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix Suns, Arizona Coyotes and other Arizona sports teams.

Despite years of widespread availability, disagreements between the conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group and the networks has knocked the games off various platforms.

The Fox Sports-branded regional networks were purchased from the Walt Disney Co. by the Sinclair for more than $10 billion in 2019.

Hulu and YouTube TV, favorites for many people to stream sports, dropped the former Fox Sports regional networks late last year.

Sling TV and Dish Network dropped the channels in July 2019, and sports-centric fuboTV did the same early last year,

Bally Corp., a casino operator, is paying Sinclair $88 million over 10 years for the naming rights.

Earlier this month, the Minneapolis’ Star Tribune’s Michael Rand interviewed Jason Gurwin, co-founder of The Streamable — a site that covers all things cord-cutting and streaming, to offer some insight on the situation with the regional networks owned by Sinclair.

When asked by Rand why so many streaming services had dropped the regional networks, Gurwin replied:

“Over the last couple years, there have been price hikes (on streaming services). One of the key contributors to that was regional sports networks. On average, when you get a cable bill you see a $15-20 regional sports fee that kind of gets hidden. A difference on these streaming services is they never charged a separate extra fee. It ultimately became a price situation where Sinclair wanted more and more and more and more money every year to renew these, and given that these streaming bundles are half the price of cable they just couldn’t fit it in and make it work economically.”

Gurwin also did an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where he gave JR Radcliffe more details on the complicated streaming picture involving Sinclair and the streaming services.

“A very small percentage of viewers from a streaming TV package are actually watching an RSN (regional sports network), 5 to 10% of subscribers,” Gurwin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The 90% of subscribers who don’t watch it are subsidizing the 10% that do,” Gurwin said. “Given that an RSN is one of the most expensive channels in a cable bundle, it’s just not sustainable for these packages. Even at a more expensive $65 a month, the services are more or less breaking even on the carriage fees that they pay to carry all the channels in the bundle.”

A Sinclair spokesperson told Radcliffe that it was committed to coming to an agreement with Hulu and YouTube, but have failed to do so.

This story first appeared in the Arizona Republic.

 

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