Skip to content
Home » Dallas Stars reach local fans free via OTA and streamingnScreenMedia

Dallas Stars reach local fans free via OTA and streamingnScreenMedia

Local teams continue to deal with the Bally Sports collapse and cable TV contractions. The Dallas Stars are learning to live without RSN license fees, delivering for free over-the-air and streaming TV.

Life after RSNs

cable satellite telco TV US home penetration 2015-2024The failure of Bally Sports and the continuing decline of traditional pay TV is forcing local pro-sports teams to reinvent how they reach their audience. The one-dimensional regional sports networks’ distribution strategy is being replaced by a multi-dimensional approach that seeks to maximize audience reach. Audience reach is critical because the license fees generated by RSNs on cable TV are disappearing, and ads must pick up the slack.

The NHL’s Dallas Stars are an excellent example of reinventing distribution in the streaming age. Last week, it was reported that the Stars’ games would not air on Bally Sports in the 2024-2025 season, ending a long relationship which, according to Brad Alberts, the team’s President and CEO, worked out well for the team:

“We would like to acknowledge that we wouldn’t be here today without the partnership and commitment of Bally Sports and their staff over the past 25 years and thank them for their partnership.”

The team is moving to distribute the live games in three different ways.

Local over-the-air (OTA) TV

OTA share of US TV households 2020-2023Although no deal has been announced, the Stars are looking for a local broadcast TV partner to air the live games. At first look, OTA seems like a minor part of the distribution strategy. After all, only 18 million out of 137 million occupied US homes use OTA. However, carriage over cable, satellite, and telco TV systems (sometimes called multi-video programming distributors, MVPD) amplify a local TV channel’s reach.

Although the traditional pay TV market is contracting rapidly – down 13% in the last year alone – it still reaches 42% of US homes. However, vMVPDs like YouTube TV, Hulu+Live, and Fubo also carry local TV channels in many markets. Adding subscribers to those services could boost the local reach of OTA games via subscription live TV above 50%.

Local streaming service

The Dallas Stars are following other local sports teams by launching a new streaming service to carry the live games to local audiences. Working with A Parent Media Co. Inc. (APMC), the team has entered into a seven-year agreement to stream live games via Victory+. It is a free direct-to-consumer service created for Stars fans. According to Mr. Alberts:

“Our first priority has always been our fan base, and on VICTORY+, fans will be able to stream 100 percent of Stars content for free through this innovative and unique streaming platform for sports programming.”

APMC’s streaming platform currently delivers Kidoodle.TV and Dude Perfect, so live sports programming will be new to the platform. However, APMC CEO Neil Gruninger is confident the platform can deliver a great experience for Stars fans in the team’s local territory, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisianna, and Arkansas:

“Leveraging our digital expertise, we aim to create a cutting-edge platform that unites fans, teams, athletes, content providers, advertisers, and brands in a unique streaming service that celebrates them all collectively.”

APMC’s ad-tech solution, Safe Exchange, will allow the service to direct-sell ads and leverage programmatic ad platforms to ensure high ad-fill rates. However, whether it can handle the unpredictability and audience scale required for live professional sports delivery remains to be seen.

Watching Stars games out-of-market

For Stars fans living outside the local markets, things are a little more complicated. To watch regional games out-of-market, fans can stream many of them via NHL Center Ice on ESPN+, Disney’s $10.99 monthly sports streaming service. However, some regional games may appear only on the NHL Network. National games will appear on ESPN+, on cable networks TNT and ESPN, and ABC broadcast stations.

In other words, out-of-market fans will need to subscribe to ESPN+ and may need a traditional pay TV or vMVPD subscription to guarantee they will watch all the games.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!