CultureFriday 04.15.22

Professional Sports Are Now Streaming: What Will It Cost Fans?

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Inflation is raising the cost of just about everything these days, and sports fans are being hit especially hard by its collision with the “streaming wars” among combatants like Prime Video (Amazon), Paramount+ (Paramount), Apple TV+ (Apple), Peacock (NBC), ESPN+ (Disney) … the list goes on.

The limited set of pro sports games is being balkanized and distributed by a growing group of such platforms, each demanding that would-be viewers set up yet another username, password, and monthly charge to their credit cards.

The New York Mets game against the Washington Nationals on April 8th, for instance, featured Max Scherzer’s first start on the team. But the game wasn’t broadcast locally in New York or Washington. For that, you had to subscribe to Apple TV+. Baseball fans already shell out around $100 a month for a local cable or satellite package, and some fork over at least that much to watch baseball on the league’s own MLB TV or MLB app.

On top of that, MLB has complicated blackout policies. Depending on where you live, you might not be able to watch the teams you like, even if you pay for the privilege.

Attending sporting events in person has grown pricier over the last decade, too. Between 2010 and 2020, ticket prices for NFL games rose over 32%. That statistic was 38% for the NHL and 51% for the NBA. The cost of going to a ballgame only shot up 22% over that time, but baseball puts on way more games than do the other leagues.

It seems like pro sports leagues think fans have an unlimited supply of cash to funnel into their endless array of products. LZ and Will talk about whether viewers have reached a breaking point.

The Long Game