Two weeks ago we wrote that the Hornets are fun again. Many of you responded and said, “Yeah, sure would be nice if I could watch them.”
Driving the news: Most cord-cutters in the region can’t watch these delightful Hornets because Sinclair Broadcast Group — which owns FOX Sports Southeast, the station that broadcasts the games — can’t come to terms with the companies that own streaming services such as YouTube TV or Hulu.
Why it matters: As the pandemic drives more people toward streaming services, and cable and satellite services fight to maintain customers, sports fans across the country — from Dallas to Tampa to Minneapolis — are caught in the Sinclair streaming squeeze and furious over missing out on their favorite teams.
- In Charlotte, that means missing LaMelo Ball and passes like these, or Gordon Hayward and drives like this.
- ATT TV’s streaming subscribers can still get the games.
The Hornets’ ratings are up, regardless of the loss of views. Their Feb. 1 thriller against the Heat was the highest-rated game in two years.
The backstory: FOX Sports Southeast became the team’s TV partner in 2008, and over the next decade, the TV distribution jumped from 750,000 to 4 million. Naturally, the contract was renewed in 2018 for about another decade, the SportsBusiness Journal reported (subscription required).
- Sinclair purchased Fox’s 21 regional sports networks in 2019.
- Sinclair’s contracts with companies that owned streaming services like YouTube TV and Hulu expired before the season. FuboTV and SlingTV dropped the channels earlier last year.
Of note: The parent company of YouTube TV is Google, and the parent company of Hulu is Disney, meaning any negotiations are being carried out by large corporations, way above the Hornets’ level.
- Point is, it’s probably not worth directing your frustration at the team.
Fans are frustrated, though, and their howls only grow louder with each Hornets win.
Ratings are up, regardless the loss of views. Their Feb. 1 thriller against the Heat was the highest-rated game in two years.
What’s next: Sinclair’s CFO recently spoke at a conference and gave no indication that the broadcast dispute would end soon.
- Axios reached out to Sinclair for comment but they didn’t respond.
Bally’s casinos bought the naming rights to the regional sports channels, and the brand change will happen soon. They’re working on an app that makes it easier to bet on games.
Thought bubble: I can’t negotiate contracts, and I can’t open the arena so that you can see them play live, but here are 50 seconds of absurdly enjoyable highlights from last week.