Update: YouTube TV Backs Off Dropping Fox Sports Detroit, For Now
Update to this story: The Chicago Tribune reported late Sunday,
After saying Thursday it would yank more than 20 Sinclair-owned RSNs over the weekend because negotiations over carriage fees were at an impasse, YouTube TV backed off. The subscription streaming service, which operates under the aegis of Google parent Alphabet, said it agreed to a temporary extension of its carriage arrangement while it continues to negotiate with Sinclair.
The cost of entertainment keeps going up and cord cutting continues to attack the bottom line of cable television companies, satellite providers, content providers, and steaming services. The latest example of that occurring here was YouTube TV's decision to drop Fox Sports Detroit from its lineup of offerings.
YouTube TV joins a growing list of providers and streaming services (Dish/Sling, fubo TV) to drop the channel.
"We do not take this decision lightly," YouTube TV said in a statement Friday. "This is a reflection of the rising cost of sports content. You may have noticed several other TV services have also decided to remove Fox Regional Sports networks from their lineups." - YouTube TV statement quoted in the Detroit News.
Fox Sports Detroit is now owned by the same company that owns WWMT in Kalamazoo. Sinclair acquired FSD when Disney bought a big chunk of Fox and part of the deal with the government was to spin off some of their regional sports networks.
But this latest development speaks to a bigger issue, which is the business model of entertainment providers, internet service providers/cable-satellite and sports leagues themselves. The cost of content keeps going up, whether its producing movies for Netflix or sports rights to teams like the Pistons and Red Wings. Netflix has to keep coming up with more content to battle the likes of Hulu, Disney+, HBO Plus and countless others. Player salaries in sports keep going up and show no sign of slowing down. TV rights help pay for those salaries. What happens now if entities like FSD keep losing carriage?
On top of all this, what about the economy. The U.S. economy is cyclical. What happens the next time economic times get tough as they did in 2008-2011? The first thing to go is maybe a second streaming service. We have seen this already with many people rebelling against cable/satellite bills well into three digits.
One thing major television companies have been adamantly against is a la carte pricing, where one would choose and pay for only the channels they want. Ultimately, it may come to that, but that may still be a while off.
Back to Detroit sports, there are some alternatives, but few. There are hockey and basketball streaming packages. Since all the teams aren't very good, the chances of seeing them on national broadcasts are slim. MLB.TV is even trickier, as if you live in certain zip codes and areas of the state, you'll still be blacked out even if you are willing to pay for it.