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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Regional Sports Networks Become an Albatross for AT&T

Not that long ago, regional sports networks (RSNs) were the beachfront property of the pay-TV industry. RSNs had exclusive rights to air local sports teams’ games in their markets and rabid fans willing to pay virtually any price to watch (especially if the local team was having a winning season). But the icing on the cake was that even non-fans were often paying for pricey RSNs, because their fees cleverly became inseparable from the most popular TV packages. In short, RSNs practically had a license to print money.

But few things last forever, and RSNs have become the latest example of the Internet’s disruption. Yesterday, the NY Post reported that AT&T’s auction of four of its RSNs, in Denver, Houston, Pittsburgh and Seattle, has drawn meager interest. AT&T was looking to sell the group for around $1 billion, but the bids have come in “around or below $500 million.” A big red flag was the four RSNs’ financial performance - an expected drop in earnings from $115 million in 2019 to just $55 million in 2020.

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Category: Sports, Telcos
Topic: AT&T

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