According to a study conducted by Nielsen and released by Fox Sports, sports fans rate regional sports networks among the most important channels in their cable bundles.
Regional sports networks are among the most expensive channels for distributors and have been getting blamed for driving up the cost of pay TV at a time when over-the-top distributors and thinner bundles offer to give consumers lower priced options.
Fox is a big owner of regional sports networks.
In the Fox Sports study, Nielsen talked to 1,500 pay-TV subscribers who identify as sports fans. Those fans said their local regional sports network was the fifth most essential channel in their TV package—scoring higher than all cable channels.
In some markets, the RSN ranged even higher. In St. Louis, Fox Sports Midwest topped all networks, including the Big 4 broadcast networks. In Detroit, Fox Sports Detroit ranked second.
“We have long known that our RSNs are akin to the fifth broadcast network in their markets in terms of ratings, and Nielsen’s research confirms the remarkable importance of these networks to viewers,” Fox Sports Regional Networks president Jeff Krolik said. “Local sports are tribal, and RSNs inspire the same loyalty and connection as the hometown teams they bring to fans.”