NESN is first regional sports network to debut DTC streaming service

New England Sports Network notched a first for regional sports networks (RSNs) on Wednesday, launching a direct-to-consumer streaming subscription service which brings its live games of the Boston Red Sox and Bruins to viewers outside of a traditional pay TV subscription.

The service, dubbed NESN 360, is only available to fans in the New England area. Launched in partnership with the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Bruins and Major League Baseball, NESN is charging $30 per month, with a first-month promotional price of $1. An annual subscription costs $330 per year (reflecting the $1 price for the first month), and NESN is sweetening the offer with eight tickets to a 2022 Red Sox game of their choice while supplies last.

With the standalone streaming service, customers get access to NESN’s live feed and video on-demand library via computers, iOS, Android, Apple TV or Roku devices. Consumers that already have NESN through a traditional pay TV provider can get the same content through the NESN 360 app via TV provider credentials.

“We believe the direct subscription option will build on NESN’s reach in the region, and will be an excellent complement to the existing, valuable partnerships we have with TV providers to bring NESN to all homes in New England,” said Sean McGrail, president and CEO of NESN, in a statement.

Along with live games, NESN is touting expanded sports content as well as original shows. The service features Red Sox highlights and select on-demand historical games, as well as Bruins highlights, and exclusive new content and on-demand titles. The on-demand library will also contain full games of notable 2022 Red Sox season matchups including nationally broadcast games once they’ve aired.

The NESN 360 service also plans to introduce new features in the coming months, such as 4K HDR and cloud DVR, while expanding its distribution reach on Fire TV and Google TV apps. On the original content front, NESN said it’s made investments including bringing on notable personalities such as baseball content creators Jared Carrabis and Pitching Ninja. The company said it’s also exploring an exclusive live home batting practice feed with the Red Sox. NESN is owned by Boston Red Sox owners Fenway Sports Group and Boston Bruin owners Delaware North.

“We are creating a full, 360 fan experience, combining a premium digital offering with the excitement of the venues and teams,” said Ahmed Darwish, NESN’s Chief Marketing Officer, in a statement. “NESN 360 is already an unparalleled offering and there is so much more to come.”

A move for the RSN offering outside of a traditional TV bundle is notable, and NESN has beaten broadcaster Sinclair in launching a direct-to-consumer service. Sinclair in 2019 paid $9.6 billion for 21 RSNs and has stated plans to launch a Bally Sports streaming app, including live games from five MLB teams, which is expected to arrive this summer. To boost its sports DTC play, Sinclair also scored digital live streaming rights in local territories in deals with the NBA and NHL.