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Spectrum Customers to Decide Whether to Pay for Sports or Not

Video camera at sporting event with Spectrum logo

The Take

  • Spectrum will launch Spectrum Select Plus with sports programming and Spectrum Select Signature for the non-sports fan this fall.
  • The new packages allow customers to decide whether to pay for sports content. Providers previously built in sports content to all major TV provider packages.
  • The new plan comes as regional sports networks branch out to streaming and customers face rising costs to watch their favorite teams.
  • The new Spectrum packages come as more TV viewers cancel their cable packages, citing the high cost. Spectrum hopes the options here will bring them back.

Spectrum will launch two new TV packages this fall to attract new subscribers. The Spectrum packages are geared to two kinds of customers: those who want sports content and those who do not. Usually, there is no option to distinguish between pay TV packages—they all include sports.

Spectrum Select Plus will include “popular sports programming services and local Regional Sports Networks (RSNs),” according to the press release from Charter Communications (the parent company of Spectrum). Meanwhile, Spectrum Select Signature will “exclude certain sports programming” and offer a reduced rate option for non-sports content. Pricing details are not yet available.

The services will launch market by market, and the sports package will include Regional Sports Networks (RSN). Spectrum Select Plus subscribers will also receive streaming access to RSNs at no additional cost, and the streaming RSNs will also be available for outside consumers.

Cable packages and sports

For years, cable packages have included sports programming as part of distributor agreements regardless of who watched the content. These new services aim to combat cable package bloat that forces subscribers to buy sports channels when they don’t want them.

With the rising cost of cable TV packages (partly driven by sports network agreements), many customers cut the cord and moved to streaming. But now, RSNs are branching out to streaming, and it’s harder than ever for fans to watch their favorite teams. The RSN costs don’t include additional streaming services to watch in-market and out-of-market games.

The new packages from Spectrum could level the playing field and bring back customers who want to save money—although Spectrum has not released pricing details yet. And although we rank DIRECTV as the best TV provider for sports, Spectrum announced that DIRECTV will carry Spectrum SportsNet and SportsNet LA. So while you may not get any cost savings, sports fans won’t lose Spectrum coverage if they stick with DIRECTV.

“This new model paves the way for a more flexible approach to the outdated packaging model for sports,” Tom Montemagno, Executive Vice President, Programming Acquisition, said in Charter’s statement, “and it puts the focus where it should be, on the customer.”

The big picture here is that Spectrum will launch its services on a market-by-market basis this fall. Meanwhile, RSNs face money difficulties after launching streaming services to reach consumers directly. So, could viewers move back to Spectrum—or another TV provider—instead of switching all the way to streaming?

It’s too early to say. But looking at how complicated baseball rights are and how tricky it could be to watch soccer this year, if you want to stay caught up on the games, it might make more sense to invest in a cable package with streaming services added on.

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