As of Oct. 23, 2020, Hulu “will no longer have the rights to distribute certain Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) that are currently included with your Hulu + Live TV plan” provided by Sinclair, the Disney-controlled streamer said in an email to customers today.
“While we were unable to reach an agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group to continue offering channels like your Fox Sports RSNs, YES Network, and Marquee Network, the good news is that you will continue to have access to a wide variety of sports from other popular channels including ESPN, TNT, and TBS, as well as FS1 and FS2,” Hulu said in the email to customers.
In a notice on its website, Hulu said it was dropping all 21 of the Fox Sports RSNs as well as YES Network, the TV home of the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets, as well as Marquee Sports Network, which carries Chicago Cubs games.
Barry Faber, Sinclair’s president of distribution and network relations, said in a statement: “While we offered Hulu a deal consistent with terms agreed to by other distributors, the streaming service refused to accept these fair and market-based terms. It is unfortunate that Hulu has chosen to take away some of the most popular programming on TV from millions of subscribers, particularly given that Hulu has promised its subscribers that it has live sports.”
Hulu last raised prices on Hulu + Live TV in November 2019, when the cost of the base package increased 22%, to $54.99 per month.
Hulu’s move to jettison the Sinclair-owned RSNs comes after YouTube TV last month dropped 19 of the Fox Sports networks it was still distributing. Last year, Dish Network dropped the Fox RSNs from satellite and Sling TV lineups, while over-the-top TV provider Fubo TV cut them in January.
Sinclair acquired the 21 Fox regional sports networks from Disney, which was required to divest the RSNs as part of securing DOJ approval of its deal for 21st Century Fox’s film and TV businesses. Under a separate pact with Disney, Sinclair acquired an interest in YES Network. Sinclair launched the Marquee Sports Network this past March.
Sinclair’s RSN business and its creditors are “preparing for a possible restructuring of its roughly $8 billion debt load,” amid the company’s loss of pay-TV deals and as COVID has reduced the amount of televised sports available, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Sinclair’s Fox-branded RSNs are: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, Fox Sports West, Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Carolinas, Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Florida, Fox Sports Indiana, Fox Sports Kansas City, Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports New Orleans, Fox Sports North, Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sportstime Ohio, Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Sports South, Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports Sun, Fox Sports Tennessee, and Fox Sports Wisconsin.