Red Sox Broadcaster Becomes First Regional Sports Network to Offer Stand-Alone Streaming Service for Games

Billie Weiss | Boston Red Sox | Getty Images
  • NESN, which broadcasts Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins games, is the first regional sports network in the U.S. to launch a direct-to-consumer service outside the cable bundle.
  • NESN will charge $1 for the first month and $29.99 per month thereafter for NESN 360, its digital streaming service.
  • The service is restricted to New England area subscribers because Major League Baseball owns out-of-market rights.

The local cable network that airs Boston's Major League Baseball and National Hockey League games is launching a stand-alone streaming subscription, marking a first for regional sports networks.

The option from NESN will be available starting Wednesday and will allow subscribers to watch live games without paying for a cable subscription. The first deal of its type comes as millions of Americans are canceling pay TV subscriptions each year amid the growing popularity of streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max.

NESN will charge $29.99 a month for streaming access to its network's programming, which includes live games featuring MLB's Red Sox and the Bruins of the NHL. The first month will cost $1 as a promotional price. An annual subscription costs $329.99 and includes eight tickets to any Red Sox game in 2022.

The service, NESN 360, will only be available to people in the New England area. MLB owns out-of-market streaming rights for MLB TV.

"We believe the direct subscription option will build on NESN's reach in the region," said Sean McGrail, NESN's president and chief executive officer, in a statement.

NESN, which is majority owned by Boston Red Sox owner Fenway Sports Group, is seeking to win over a younger audience by offering a digital streaming alternative for Red Sox and Bruins games. But the service will be pricey relative to existing streaming services. Netflix and HBO Max, the most expensive global streaming services, have standard plans that cost about $15 per month in the U.S.

Regional sports networks have to charge a significantly higher price for an out-of-cable service because of their agreements with cable TV providers, such as Comcast, Charter and DirecTV. Cable providers have agreed to pay NESN a flat monthly fee based on estimates about viewership.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns CNBC.

WATCH: Sinclair Broadcasting and Bally's team up to offer regional sports networks

Copyright CNBC
Contact Us