Sling TV Now Offering NBA League Pass, Team Pass

League Pass

Sling TV has added NBA League Pass, providing subscribers with the option to add live out-of-market games to their streaming package; the first multi-channel OTT service to offer the add-on package for basketball junkies. For an additional $29/mo. Sling Orange, Sling Blue and Sling International subscribers can add NBA League Pass to their existing subscription, gaining access to an additional +/- 1,000 live game broadcasts. In the coming weeks, those looking for a cheaper alternative will have the option of adding Team Pass for $18/mo.; though, that package only provides access to out-of-market games for a single NBA franchise, of the subscriber’s choice.

Howie Long-Short: Sling TV is a subsidiary of Dish Network (DISH). Earlier this week, as part of the company’s Q4 ’17 financial report, DISH disclosed the number of Sling TV subscribers (2.212 million) for the first time (previously counted them with DISH TV subs). For full year 2017, total revenue declined 5.4% (to $14.39 billion). Net income grew $600,000, but only because of the $1.2 billion (one-time) tax benefit that the company received from recent tax reform legislation.

Fan Marino: No NBA games were scheduled Monday-Wednesday this week, giving the league’s stars a chance to rest after All-Star weekend; but, it’s been anything but a quiet week for Mark Cuban the Dallas Mavericks. On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated published an expose highlighting the “Corrosive Workplace Culture” (see: sexual harassment, domestic violence etc.) within the Mavericks organization. On Wednesday, the league fined the Mavericks’ owner $600,000 for suggesting that losing (or tanking) was in his team’s best interests. It’s been a quick fall from grace for a guy that had been mentioned as a potential Presidential candidate in 2020.

Interested in Sports? Sports Business? Sports Finance? Sign-up for our free daily email newsletter list, here!

No, This Isn’t the End of the NFL

Will Leitch (of Deadspin fame) wrote an article that appears in the November 27th issue of New York Magazine entitled “Is This the End of the NFL?”. The piece claims “so many people just aren’t watching (the league) at all”; supporting the argument with just a single fact, TV ratings are down 5.7% YOY. Leitch believes that concerns regarding player brain injuries, anthem protests, the quality of play and even league implemented rules (i.e. targeting) designed to make the game safer are turning fans away. Exacerbating the demise is the ascension of the NBA; a league that he sees as “vibrant, organic and alive” because it embraces the personalities and opinions of its athletes.

Howie Long-Short: I saw this click-bait and felt the need to provide some context. TV ratings are down as Leitch stated, but the league is still averaging 15.1 million viewers/game; the ’17 NBA playoffs (1st round through conference finals), on ESPN/ABC, only averaged 4.26 million. Television ad revenue is up 3% YOY (to $738 million) across the league’s broadcast networks and fan attendance is up (from 68,914 in ’16 to 69,264) this season. Those metrics simply don’t show present the picture of a business nearing its end.

Fan Marino: 3 million DISH subscribers “weren’t watching” the Chargers-Cowboys game on Thanksgiving, due to a blackout of CBS Corp. (CBS) channels. The 2 companies have since managed to agree on a transmission agreement for satellite subscribers; though Sling TV subscribers (DISH’s digital service) remain in the dark. Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker said it was DISH who caved, giving in to consumer demand on a “popular NFL-heavy holiday weekend.”

Is This the End of the NFL?

For the balance of today’s newsletter, sign-up here!

NFL Fans in NY, LA, DAL and CHI Could Miss NFL Action on Thanksgiving

More than 2 million Dish Network (DISH) subscribers will miss out on Thanksgiving Day NFL football (and SEC football on Friday and Saturday) if a pricing dispute with CBS isn’t solved within the next 24 hours. DISH dropped CBS Corp. (CBS) channels in 18 major markets after the 2 sides were unable to agree on a new carriage deal by Monday evening’s deadline. CBS is reportedly asking for the same terms it receives from its other distributors and believes it deserves a retransmission fee increase as CBS is the most watched DISH channel. DISH has balked at the demands; arguing CBS is asking for an increase on programming with declining viewership or that can be found free over the air.

Howie Long-Short: DISH reported Q3 revenue declined 5% YOY (to $3.58 billion), attributing the loss to a one-time removal of 145,000 subscribers in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands (related to Hurricane Maria). The company added 16,000 subs during the quarter, offsetting losses in pay TV subscribers with the addition of an estimated (by Evercore analysts) 224,000-264,000 Sling TV streaming service subscribers. DISH shares are down 14% YTD.

Fan Marino: Cowboys and Chargers fans may want to consider taking DISH up on their proposed solution. Fans can drop their local channels in exchange for a $10 reduction on their monthly bill and have DISH install an antenna, at the company’s expense. It’s a slight inconvenience, but it beats missing the game.

Dish Network Drops Some CBS Channels Ahead of Thanksgiving Football Weekend

For the balance of today’s newsletter, sign-up here!

A Streaming Service for the Sports Fan

Sports fans that are considering cutting the cord may want to look at the channel lineup for FuboTV; a sports-centric, OTT, live TV streaming service that offers fans the “most sports for the least money”. Originally introduced as a skinny bundle for soccer fans, the service now carries a variety of sports on 37 (of 65) channels (both regional and national) including; FS1, FS2 and NBCSN. The $40/mo. niche bundle is looking to stand out in a crowded streaming TV market that includes; Hulu (TWX), YouTube TV (GOOGL), DirecTV Now (T), Playstation Vue (SNE) and Sling TV (DISH). Amazon (AMZN) and Verizon (VZ) will also be introducing streaming bundles soon.

Howie Long-Short: FuboTV has raised $75.6 million to date, with several publicly traded companies investing in the streaming provider. 21st Century Fox (FOXA), Sky (SKYAY) and Scripps Networks Interactive (SSP) all participated the $55 million Series C round that closed in June; so there are no shortage of ways to play the OTT streaming service.

Fan Marino: FuboTV has 100,000 soccer-loving subscribers, but is counting on their next 100,000 subscribers to be fans of traditional American sports. The carriage deals they’ve signed to date have given them some valuable programming (like the World Series), but you can’t convince the American sports fan to cut the cord without ESPN’s network of channels. ESPN (DIS) holds the rights to the College Football Playoffs (and NBA) through 2025 and MNF through 2021. If your key differentiator as an OTT streaming service is your sports programming, you must carry those games. The success of the service, at least as it is currently marketed, depends on it.

The next 100,000 subscribers: FuboTV’s skinny bundle moves beyond live soccer

For the balance of today’s newsletter, sign-up here!


Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence, is predicting that traditional pay TV companies (i.e. CMCSA, T) will lose another 10.8 million subscribers by 2021, while virtual services like Sling TV (DISH) and Playstation Vue (SNE), grow collectively to 11 million users. It has been estimated that 18 million households (14% of U.S.) will rely solely on over the top, self aggregated, online content, by that time. The news isn’t all bad though for traditional providers, as households with multichannel subscriptions are expected to remain the solid majority for at least the next 5 years.


Kagan Releases Multichannel projections through 2021

Howie Long-Short opines: 10.8 million more cord cutters, fully offset by 11 million OTT subs, in 5 years? This would probably be good news, at least for the cable companies that can charge streamers $100 for high-speed broadband.

Adam Dow-Jones comments: Has the furor over cord cutting gone to far I wonder? Not while these numbers continue to be abysmal. Mr. Dow-Jones smells some value in media though as market overprices these declines.

Fan Marino says: I’m literally just ESPN and ESPN2 away from making the move to FuboTV. Look at the channel lineup, what else do you need?


21st Century Fox, Inc. (FOXA), Sky Plc (SKY) and Scripps Networks Interactive (SSP) have invested in an online television service, with a focus on the sports fan.  FuboTV raised $55 Million to expand their channel lineup and improve technology. The company intends to compete in an increasing competitive field that includes Sling TV (DISH), Playstation Vue (SNE), DirectTV Now (T), YouTube (GOOGL) & Hulu (TWX).


Fan Marino says: Do you hear that noise?  It’s me opening up the junk drawer and pulling out my scissors. We’re an ESPN and ESPN2 away from the snip.