Sling TV will start offering ABC affiliates in a couple of select markets in March 2023. This will be welcome news to people in those areas but it will not be applicable to many markets. The subscribers in locales that will get ABC must be Sling Blue subscribers and those subscribers will see a five-dollar price increase.
For users who already have those channels via an antenna, the addition will essentially be nothing more than an extra expense.
Which markets will get access to ABC?
The markets that are getting access to ABC are stations that are owned and operated by Disney. They include:
- Los Angeles, CA
- Fresnso, CA
- San Francisco/San Jose, CA
- Chicago, Ill
- New York City
- Raleigh/Durham, NC
- Philidelphia, PA
- Houston, TX
No other stations have been included in the announcement. This implies that the access to the channels is part of a larger deal with Disney as opposed to a commitment from Sling TV to negotiate with channel owners across the country for individual rights to offer the channels. That is how individual pay-TV companies must conduct business in order to offer access to “local channels”. While networks like HBO or ESPN can be part of national agreements access to the broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX are based on deals between the networks themselves and then hundreds of station owners (Think call letters) across the country. W— and K— are owned by someone, and most of the time it is not the major network found on that channel. Some are small groups of stations like Capitol Broadcasting in Raleigh while others own stations across the country like Tegna. This is why sometimes you see a cable company in a fight that costs it access to say CBS in 16 major media markets but not in others.
The channel breakdowns are complicated and too much to get into just over this story, but what is happening here, is that for a lucky few the station owners happen to be right at the same office that negotiates on behalf of channels like ESPN, Freeform and the rest of the Disney family of networks.
So if your area is not covered by the new agreement, don’t hold your breath expecting it to change unless Sling TV changes its whole business plan in order to offer network affiliates to all customers.