Sling TV and The Road to a Complete OTT Sports Bundle

Sling TV and The Road to a Complete OTT Sports Bundle

Dish’s recent Sling TV offering is the first stab at offering what many sports fans have wanted for a long time – an affordable streaming TV service that delivers the essentials, and only the essentials. At $20 per month, Sling offers major sports content on ESPN and TNT/TBS (NBA Games). With no contract, the ability to cancel service at any time, and seamless delivery to Mobile Devices, Sling TV is worth considering for any sports fan.

So why would any sports fan keep their $120/month cable package? What’s missing in the Dish offering?

For sports, ESPN is great but you’ll often find that the “Big Game” can only be found on your local ABC, NBC, CBS, or FOX stations. Unfortunately, Sling doesn’t offer local channels.

By “cutting the cord” or relying solely on a Sling-like offering you’d be missing out on Sunday NFL Games, Saturday College Football Games, the Olympics, MLB World Series, NASCAR, Saturday afternoon College Basketball games, and the list goes on.

No Sunday NFL or Christmas Sweaters on Sling TV

Why doesn’t Sling offer Local Channels?

Aside from the affordable, sports-centric bundle, Sling TV is also revolutionary because it’s a mobile streaming service and is delivered differently than how cable or satellite delivers TV to your home. Local Channels, known as Broadcast Channels are subject to more regulation than national, Cable Channels such as ESPN and CNN that Sling TV offers. Specifically, Local Channels are only licensed for a specific TV market. Within the sports conversation, Regional Sports Networks (which aren’t offered on Sling TV) such as MASN, NESN, YES, FOX Sports South, etc. have similar arrangements and requirements to keep games within the home team’s Regional Market.

On mobile devices, however, it’s difficult to determine where a device is located and which local station’s TV signal should be streamed to that device. Because of this gray-area, Broadcast Networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX) are hesitant to give away streaming rights in fear that their distribution agreements will be infringed upon and they may get sued.

Doesn’t ABC own ESPN? If so, then why doesn’t Sling TV at least offer local ABC channels?

This goes back to those pesky TV Markets. ABC Network, for example, owns Local Stations in 8 TV Markets – most notably in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. However, there are 210 TV Markets in the U.S., meaning there are 202 Local ABC Stations that would have to negotiate separately with Sling TV to stream their channel.

CBS, FOX, and NBC stations have similar arrangements which makes content acquisition negotiations very sticky for Sling TV to obtain Local Channels – not only must they negotiate with hundreds of different station groups, they must make sure each mobile stream stays in it’s designated market while adhering to multiple other regulatory requirements.

So what’s the point of all this? Will there ever be a complete, sports-only streaming package? What has to happen?

The point is that Live Sports come with delicate geographical restrictions, and these restrictions are especially important when streamed onto mobile devices. Luckily for the consumer and Broadcast Networks (who want more exposure onto every device), technological innovation is underway and, eventually a streaming, OTT sports package will be economically and technologically possible.

Here’s what has to happen

1. Contract Negotiations Between Providers (Dish, Time Warner, Comcast, etc.) and Affiliates.
– Four Broadcast Networks in 210 TV Markets = hundreds or thousands of separate contracts. Sounds like a pain (it probably is) but these relationships are already in place to deliver traditional TV feeds to your home. Now they only need to include Streaming Rights to allow Streaming of Local Content.
– In order to include Streaming Rights, some technological details must be ironed out. See next line for details…

2. Strict and Flexible Geofencing Technologies
– Geofencing technologies exist today as “blunt” tools, meaning they lack the flexibility to create custom geographies for multiple use cases. Also, a “one-time” device location check won’t suffice to ensure content distribution agreements are obeyed. To ensure locations are cached or “place-shifted” during mid-stream, locations must be checked at intervals during the stream.

3. Robust Content Management Technology
– Local Stations adhere to TV Markets or DMA’s  and Regional Sports Networks rely on much more nuanced geographic regions. Even further, some individual games must be “blacked out” in cetain areas. Providers and Broadcast Networks need the ability to create custom geo-fences, black-out shows easily, and manage this all in one place.


TotalCast Control Portal "Blacks Out" Uncleared Shows or Games

TotalCast Control Portal “Blacks Out” Uncleared Shows or Games

The Solution

TotalCast is designed specifically for Streaming Live Sports onto mobile devices. Through our Patented, Mobile Geofencing Solution and Control Portal, Cable Providers, Broadcast Networks, and Regional Sports Networks can work together to make sure

– Mobile Streams don’t leave specified geographic areas
– Custom Geographies can be made for specific games, ensuring distribution agreements are followed and reachable audience is maximized
– Any un-cleared show or game can be “blacked out” quickly and easily.

TotalCast is currently working with Cable Providers, Broadcast Networks, and Regional Sports Networks to allow Live Sports onto all mobile devices.

Stream More Sports.