Satellite broadcaster Dish said it’s removed the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) and NBC Regional Sports Networks from its Dish TV and Sling TV platform last night, affecting access in 10 states and Washington, D.C. It’s the opening day for Major League Baseball.
Specifically, Englewood-Colo.-based Dish is not longer carrying MASN — coverage home of the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles — and neither Dish nor Sling are offering NBC Sports Washington, NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California — networks that are the exclusive regional homes of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings; the NHL’s Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks; and MLB’s San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics.
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Dish had warned in early March that the NBC RSNs would be removed unless the two sides reached a deal. Dish wants to offer the networks on an a la carte basis, similar to premium subscription channels, with the networks setting the price.
“The current RSN model is fundamentally broken,” said Brian Neylon, Group President, Dish TV, in a statement Thursday. “This model requires nearly all customers to pay for RSNs when only a small percentage of customers actually watch them. As the cost of these channels continues to escalate, we no longer think it makes sense to include them in our TV lineup.”
A spokesperson for the NBC Regional Sports Networks said they “offered to continue distribution on fair market terms. Dish and Sling declined those terms and have dropped the networks. The many other distributors that continue to carry the RSNs are listed on each RSN’s website.”
Dish has argued that the rise of a la carte viewing options and specialized streaming services have changed the landscape. It said it remains “open to working with the RSNs to offer sports content in a way that provides choice and value to all customers.”
Dish and Sling, have taken a particularly hard stance on the cost of local and Regional Sports Networks. Last fall, Dish chairman Charlie Ergen said, “For us, we had real math when it comes to programming content. We know what the value is when it comes to our customers. The value of regional sports to our customers was the most overrated.”
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