- NESN 360 available on web, mobile and streaming devices
- Service offers live, on-demand and original content
NESN has become the first regional sports network (RSN) in the US to launch a direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming service, allowing viewers in New England to access its content without the need to subscribe via a broader pay-TV service.
The NESN 360 platform will include all the RSN’s live programming, including all of its Boston Red Sox’s in-market Major League Baseball (MLB) games and Boston Bruins local National Hockey League (NHL) live broadcasts, along with on-demand and original content.
The application is available on the web, on mobile platforms, as well as via Apple TV and Roku streaming devices. NESN 360 will also be available to customers who do subscribe via their cable provider, offering additional value to its existing customer base.
The service costs US$29.99 a month, with an annual subscription costing US$329.99. The latter also includes eight tickets to a Red Sox game in 2022.
Future updates will add new features, including 4K high dynamic range (HDR) picture quality, cloud recording, and support for other devices. NESN is also looking at additional content streams, such as live Red Sox batting practice.
“NESN 360 is the latest iteration in NESN’s long history of innovation and providing fans with the best sports viewing experience,” said Sean McGrail, NESN chief executive “We believe the direct subscription option will build on NESN’s reach in the region, and will be an excellent complement to the existing, valuable partnerships we have with TV providers to bring NESN to all homes in New England.”
RSNs are an important revenue stream for teams in MLB, the NHL, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and other leagues but broadcasters have struggled in recent times thanks to a vicious cycle of increased transmission fees and declining viewership. Subscriber numbers have been impacted by ‘cord cutting’ and disagreements with distributors that have seen some RSNs taken off certain TV platforms.
What happens with NESN DTC’s offering will be closely observed by Sinclair’s Diamond Sports Group, which owns the 21 Bally Sports RSNs. Sinclair has acquired the local streaming rights for many major league teams and has announced its intention to launch ‘Bally Sports+’ in the second quarter of 2022.
NESN will have had few problems in getting its major franchises on board given Fenway Sports Group (FSG), the owner of the Red Sox, has a majority stakeholding in the network, with the remaining shares held by the owner of the Boston Bruins.