When Fubo TV announced that it would be adding the numerous Bally Sports Regional Sports Networks (RSN’s) to its already sports service-heavy channel lineup it should have sent a shudder down the back of DirecTV Stream executives. The service, which has had an identity crisis since it first launched as DirecTV Now before changing its name to AT&T TV Now before then change its name to AT&T TV bringing itself full circle as DirecTV Stream was spun off of AT&T as the company separated itself from the TV world around the same time is sold Warner Brothers and Turner to Discovery Networks.
DirecTV Stream has until the recent announcement been the only streaming service that offered the RSNs to subscribers outside the traditional cable and satellite ecosystem meaning the only other way streamers could get access to the regional teams featured on the network was the slow struggling Bally Sports+ service. Fubo TV, which has been growing year by year since launching as a sports-centered streamer and developing into a full cable replacement service is a natural home for Bally Sports as its customers are drawn to the service in order to see both general programming from major networks and lifestyle channels on top of more specialized offerings like international soccer, multiple pro football leagues and basketball from all over the world.
Bally sports is not simply a sports-centered channel. It is the primary home of numerous NHL, NBA and MLB teams. This meant that any fan of say our local offering the Carolina Hurricanes could only see their games if they subscribed to essentially the most expensive TV streaming service on the market. It costs at least $79.99 to get Bally Sports on DirecTV Stream. DirecTV Stream never had an exclusive with the channel. It was more a case of providers being unwilling to pay the fees for RSNs or pass the bill off to their subscribers. But Fubo TV typically makes their moves based on what its customers are requesting meaning that the company is likely making the move from an educated position. Either way expect to see the new channels available on one of Fubo’s upper-end packages.
In the end, having one less channel to differentiate itself from the market is not a winner for DirecTV Stream in an era when streaming ambitions are running aground across the industry. Can the market continue to support as many live TV streaming services as it has on the market? A long year is on the way.