The Boston Red Sox may be best known for the Green Monster in Fenway Park, but soon, the team may be famous for changing how millions of baseball fans (and sports fans in general) watch games. And it’s all due to an innovative way to stream game content.
What is NESN 360?
On June 1, 2022, the New England Sports Network (NESN) announced the launch of the Red Sox direct-to-consumer streaming service, NESN 360. This option offers fans a cheaper way to live stream Red Sox or Boston Bruins games for $29.99 per month with multiple promotional packages, including:
- The first month for just $1 if you pay for your subscription on a month-to-month basis.
- Eight tickets to select Red Sox home games during the 2022 season for yearly subscribers ($329.99 billed annually).
The streaming service offers select on-demand 2022 Red Sox games and recaps, including nationally televised games after they’ve aired. Fans can also enjoy 300+ additional live events from New England teams, including the Connecticut Sun, Worcester Red Sox, Hockey East, and ACC. Plus, viewers can watch exclusive sports shows and recaps, too.
All promotions aside, NESN 360 is significantly cheaper than most cable contracts, and it’s more affordable than some other popular streaming services, such as FuboTV (costs start at $69.99 per month). The standalone streaming service also allows local fans without cable (or whose current cable package doesn’t carry specific networks) to watch some of their favorite teams play. However, viewers shouldn’t expect non-sports content that more well-rounded streaming services offer, like movies, sitcoms, and series.
If you’re interested in subscribing to NESN 360, keep in mind that it’s only available in the New England area since the MLB and NHL control the rights for out-of-market broadcasting. To check if your zip code qualifies, enter your information here. While this may not make a significant impact outside the New England area, it’s worth keeping an eye on, as it may spur other novel types of sports streaming options.
What does NESN 360 mean for the future of sports streaming?
Sinclair Broadcast Group, the owner of several broadcast networks, has already started the conversation with other teams about creating similar streaming services. These services may include teams, such as the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, and Tampa Bay Rays. If the services come to fruition, it would give six out of the 30 teams in MLB direct-to-customer streaming options. There are also talks of NBCUniversal starting a similar service of its own.
The other 24 teams in the league will certainly be paying attention to how fans react to these services and how they perform financially. If there’s a success with at least the majority of them, it would almost certainly lead to other teams investing in their own streaming services — if MLB doesn’t intervene.
And why might MLB intervene?
The answer is plain and simple: money.
Like most sports leagues, TV contracts make up large portions of MLB’s revenue. With many Americans already looking to cut down on costs by switching from cable to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, ditching cable has become increasingly more common. MLB needs the high price that TV networks pay to air their games, so these standalone services need to be able to match that type of revenue for continued success.
Some of the last to hold out on streaming services have been sports fans who know they can’t watch their favorite teams play in real-time without a cable or satellite deal. If these direct-to-customer streaming services are successful, cable providers and more expensive services like FuboTV need to be on high alert. It’s possible they could lose more customers, putting pressure on MLB to take a stance against individual baseball teams having their own streaming services.
The Red Sox’s stand-alone streaming service may start a chain reaction, giving the idea to teams in other sports leagues outside the MLB, too. For starters, the NHL already has a team with its own service as the Boston Bruins are featured on the NESN 360.
As a result, streaming services and cable companies may start feeling the effects of sports fans canceling TV packages and switching to direct-to-customer platforms instead.
NESN 360 vs. cable vs. streaming services: Is there a winner?
Direct-to-customer streaming services like NESN 360 could be the next step in the downfall of cable and high-priced streaming services. If the first few stand-alone platforms are successful, professional sports leagues around the country will face a tough decision: Should they allow teams to continue developing these services, or should they prohibit them in support of cable networks that pay exuberant amounts of money to broadcast games?
Only time will tell. In the meantime, we’ll be happily streaming Red Sox and Bruins games from the comfort of our sofa with NESN 360.
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