A man sits back in a black chair with his arms above his head in front of several TV screens and plays a sports game.

In March, Diamond Sports Group, the biggest owner of regional sports networks, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts by way of Getty Pictures

As customers ditch cable solutions in favor of streaming platforms, regional sports networks are at danger of collapse. In the initial quarter of 2023, an estimated two.three million Americans have abandoned conventional cable packages. And as far more Americans move to streaming platforms, these regional cable networks are losing far more dollars.

“Marketplace” host Kai Rysdahl spoke with Ben Strauss, sports and media reporter for The Washington Post, about how regional sports networks are faring as far more Americans switch to cable, and what that could imply for sports fans across the nation.

The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Kai Rysdal: For these who could not be familiar, what precisely are regional sports networks?

Ben Strauss: These are the cable networks that have carried practically each and every 1 of your preferred baseball, hockey and NBA teams for the previous 20 to 30 years.

Rysdal: And regional, as it implies, is not a national matter. It really is each and every area, you know, there is a network for each and every area and group, appropriate?

Strauss: Just so. So the teams in Dallas are on 1 network. In Chicago, till lately, the Cubs and White Sox and Bulls and Blackhawks have been on the exact same network.

Rysdal: OK. And the point of this piece, and the issue that can truly modify sports as we know it, is that these regional sports networks have generally failed.

Strauss: Fundamentally, they are in huge problems. Fundamentally, as people today leave cable, the costs that they have been paying to these networks that these networks have been then paying to these teams have been going down significantly. And 1 of the major owners of these networks, Diamond Sports, filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year. And there are teams that have not received their dues, potentially altering the landscape for the sport.

Rysdal: So the leagues have an interest in saving these regional sports networks. What are they performing?

Strauss: So various leagues do various factors. Various teams, in reality, do various factors. Baseball does not think in this corporation – this Diamond Sports corporation. And so, baseball would enjoy for all these teams to pull their rights and make some type of solution that you can see on cable and that you can stream straight your self. Most NHL and NBA teams would enjoy to milk this model for all it really is worth as extended as the checks are nonetheless getting cashed in the subsequent couple of years. So it really is a bit of a gamble, and it really is undoubtedly not specific how it will play out.

Rysdal: Messy sounds like a fantastic word right here, does not it?

Strauss: Yes, yes, you happen to be fantastic at this.

Rysdal: So appear, consider about the fans, who just want to watch their teams, and now mainly because streaming has began on cable Television, and mainly because the league desires dollars, and the regional sports networks have gone beneath, what is a fan to do?

Strauss: Effectively, such an intriguing query about getting a sports fan lately, is not it? 1 of the motives these networks have been so useful was mainly because all these people today who weren’t watching sports have been paying for them. Everybody has a cable subscription and everybody pays 3, 4 or 5 or even six dollars a month for that regional sports network, even if they do not watch a minute. And so, it really is type of in this a la carte model exactly where people today leave the cable package., at the finish of the day, the teams type of have this selection, like if you want to attain far more people today and if you happen to be pondering about anything on tv – which is a truly old college issue that would make gaming accessible to a massive quantity of people today. Diamond is fighting it. and do you want to attain the most fans or do you want to raise the most dollars by going to a streaming service exactly where people today have to spend far more to obtain you? And, it really is type of a balancing act.

Rysdal: And the catch is, you can not have each, appropriate?

Strauss: The catch is that you can not have them each. And so in the finish, I consider sports fans will finish up paying far more for their sports.

By Editor