In late February/early March, right before our country plunged headfirst in the coronavirus pandemic, YouTube TV was on the brink of dropping Fox Sports North and other regional sports networks.
In announcing a decision to drop those channels, the streaming service said, “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.”
But a few days later, YouTube TV and RSNs reached a temporary agreement to keep the channels on at least through the 2020 NBA, NHL and MLB seasons regular seasons. The tentative date of expiration was Oct. 1 — otherwise known now as Thursday.
And, well, that temporary agreement appears to have been just that. YouTube TV announced this week that it is indeed planning again to drop FSN and other regional sports networks on Thursday.
This was sent to subscribers: “Starting Thursday, October 1, 2020, FOX Regional Sports Networks will no longer be available on YouTube TV, and you will no longer have access to any previous recordings from FOX Regional Sports Networks. This was a difficult decision made after months of negotiations. We hope that we can bring FOX RSNs back in the future.”
That does leave open the possibility of re-adding those channels, and it should be noted that with the NBA and NHL seasons obviously not starting in October like they normally would (since, you know, the NHL just ended and the NBA is still finishing its old season) there isn’t nearly as much local pro sports programming on those channels set to air in the next few months.
But this does have an immediate impact on YouTube TV subscribers — with an estimated 2.5 million subscribers nationwide — wanting to watch Minnesota United on FSN. The channel also carries some Gophers sports.
More than anything, this continues an unfortunate trend. Sling TV and DISH dropped the regional sports networks more than a year ago and haven’t added them back. Hulu + Live TV (the package I get) has them, but the options for “cord cutters” who love sports but don’t want more expensive long-term subscriptions via cable or satellite are again taking a hit.