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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

Why Can't Reds Fans Watch FSO On Hulu, YouTube Or Other Streaming Services?

cincinnati reds joey votto
John Bazemore
Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr., left, dives back to first base as Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto reaches for the pick-off throw during the first inning in Game 2 of a National League wild-card baseball series in October 2020 in Atlanta.

Why not? Because of money, of course.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, which bought Fox Sports Ohio and 20 other Fox regional sports networks in 2019, has been unable to restore the sports channels to Hulu + Live TV, owned by Disney, and YouTube TV, owned by Google.

However, I am hearing from sources that FSO's Reds games again will be available this season by streaming on FOX Sports GO (soon to become Bally Sports) under the current authentication process through your cable provider.

Some fans have lost access to Reds TV gamessince Sinclair acquired the Fox regional sports networks from Disney in August 2019 for a reported $9.6 billion. Disney, which owns ESPN, was required to sell the Fox sports regionals when it purchased 21st Century Fox's TV and film assets.

A month before Sinclair closed on the deal, Sling TV and Dish Network dropped the Fox Sports regional networks July 2019. Fox Sports regionals disappeared from fuboTV in January 2020. And on Oct. 23 last year, Hulu + Live TV dropped the Fox Sports regionals, YES Network and Marquee Sports Network.

Sinclair today sent me this statement, which was not attributed to any corporate official:

"Sinclair remains committed to reaching a fair agreement with both Hulu and YouTube TV to carry the FOX RSNs. At no time have we demanded exorbitant fees for these channels. Instead, we have consistently offered both pay TV providers extremely fair deals in line with what hundreds of other tv services have agreed to and continue to agree to.

"However, despite high profile ad campaigns and website claims touting their live sports content, we have yet to see that same commitment from either provider to put consumers first.

"Unfortunately, at this point we have no choice but to conclude that neither Disney (which owns Hulu) nor Google (which owns YouTube) is willing to engage in good faith discussions or return the RSNs to their platforms."

Sinclair President and CEO Chris Ripley late last year talked about a new app for the regional sports networks providing a "direct-to-consumer experience" allowing fans "to subscribe directly to Fox Sports Ohio … without an existing subscription to a pay-TV provider like they do with HBO Max, Netflix, ESPN+, etc.," Cleveland.com reported in December.

However, sources tell me that there are no current plans to launch a direct-to-consumer offering this year.

The Streamable reported last October that Hulu told customers that "while we were unable to reach an agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group to continue offering channels like your Fox Sports RSNs [regional sports networks], YES Network, and Marquee Network, the good news is that you will continue to have access to a wide variety of sports from other popular channels including ESPN, TNT, and TBS, as well as FS1 and FS2."

Fox Sports Ohio has not announced its Reds TV schedule, although WKRC-TV has promoted that it will simulcast FSO's Opening Day telecast of the Reds-Cardinals at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 1. Channel 12, which is owned by Sinclair, has simulcast FSO's Opening Day game for many years. It is expected that FSO again will air all 162 Reds games.

Fox Sports Ohio managers also have not announced when FSO will be rebranded Bally Sports Ohio.

Sinclair operates WKRC-TV, WSTR-TV and Channel 12.2; Dayton's WKEF-TV and WRGT-TV; and 183 other television stations in 88 markets; 19 regional sports networks, the Tennis Channel and Stadium channel; and the Stirr streaming service.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.