The Recap: Disney Shuts Networks Down, Bally Sports Drama Gets Messier, and More 




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Family eating popcorn watching tv

It was a critical week for Bally Sports, which took one step forward and another back as the regional sports network drama continues. 

Disney, meanwhile, shut down some cable channels overseas that may have implications back home, and DISH Network ended a two month-long blackout by settling a dispute with Hearst. Amazon offered a little good news on the space front. 

As always, there was a lot going on in the world of cord cutting. But that’s why The Recap exists, to catch you up on the biggest stories and why you should care about them. 

Here’s what you need to know from this past week.

Bally Sports Gets a Reprieve, Sort Of

It was a bit of a “good news, bad news” situation for perennial in trouble Bally Sports. The regional sports network had its bankruptcy hearing before a federal judge on Wednesday. The judge approved its deal with the NBA, which runs through the rest of the 2023-2024 season, as well as its request for more time to file its reorganization plan. Bally Sports has already indicated it will need to file yet another extension. 

But the MLB objected to a proposed plan with Bally Sports, and said it would offer its own plan, throwing into question whether a deal will be put in place. And there’s still no word on the expected extension of its deal with the NHL. 

Then former parent Sinclair said it expects Bally Sports to shut down after the 2024 MLB season, even if Bally Sports and its parent, Diamond Sports Group, disputes this claim. Sinclair is also objecting to the new NBA deal since it doesn’t include any language for fees owed to the broadcast company. 

Disney Shuts Down Cable Channels

Walt Disney is pulling the plug on several cable channels – just not the ones in the U.S. The media giant is scrapping The National Geographic channel, Nat Geo Wild, and Baby TV, according to VnExpress. Other at-risk channels include Star Chinese Movies, Star Chinese Channel, Star Movies, and Star World. Disney is also in talks to sell off its India assets

This could set a precedent for Disney making similar moves in the U.S. It already agreed to drop eight channels in its new agreement with Charter’s Spectrum. If other cable companies make similar demand, that could spell the end to some of Disney’s secondary cable channels. 

YouTube TV Soars

YouTube TV continues to be the most popular live TV streaming service, and is starting rival some of the bigger traditional pay-TV players in size. 

The company doesn’t break out its subscribers, but Leichtman Research Group estimates it had 6.5 million customers as of the third quarter. That’s large enough to make it the No. 5 largest pay-TV provider in the nation. 

It’s just behind DISH Network, which has 6.7 million customers, but has steadily been losing subscribers at a rapid clip. YouTube TV could eclipse DISH by the end of this quarter. 

DISH and Hearst Make Nice

On a brighter note for DISH Network, the pay-TV provider finally resolved a dispute with Hearst over a proposed distribution deal. The spat meant DISH customers lost access to certain local ABC, CW, and NBC stations for two months. 

Amazon’s Home Internet Service Inches Closer to Reality

Amazon announced that its two test satellites are working properly and that they’ve completed some early tests, hitting a key milestone in its effort to offer internet service. 

The successful deployment of these satellites is critical to its Project Kuiper initiative, which is expected to run wider tests and even commercial deployment in 2024. 

Amazon is playing catch-up with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, whose Starlink service already boasts a constellation of more than 5,000 satellites and offers coverage around the world. 

The service, however, is more expensive than standard internet, so it’ll be interesting to see how Amazon prices its version for consumers.

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