Opinion: Watching sports is becoming more expensive and frustrating

The death of cable television has opened the door for even more cash grabs from sports broadcasters


Inter Milan fans display a tifo before a match at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy. Via Wikimedia Commons.

For many around the world, watching sports is a time for communities to come together, relax for the length of the game and enjoy an escape from their everyday lives.

Whether you’re a fan of the World Cup or the Super Bowl, soccer or football, sports broadcasts are consistently among the most watched television broadcasts every year.

However, here in America, cable TV’s slow death has shown a growing problem that streaming services are cultivating – there’s just too many.

If someone wants to watch soccer, whether it is their local team or one of the big five European leagues, good luck dealing with the paywalls. Fans will have to subscribe to either Peacock Premium for the Premier League coverage,, ESPN+ for La Liga and/or Major League Soccer Season Pass on Apple TV. The UEFA Champions League – the premier yearly soccer tournament in Europe– is mostly put behind the paywall on Paramount+ with exceptions for top draw fixtures.

The recent UEFA Champions League semifinal match between Serie A’s Inter Milan and A.C. Milan highlighted these flaws among the American audience.

For the first time since 2005, the Milan Derby was going to be played in the Champions League knockout stages. Walking around Mt. SAC on match day, many students wore A.C. Milan jerseys from the mid-2000’s and a couple of Inter Milan shirts were spotted at the library.

It was quite a disappointment to see a game that had generated so much enthusiasm get put behind a paywall.

For the Premier League, on a typical match day, there is only one match put over the air on NBC, but the rest of the games are on Peacock Premium. This meant that two crucial clashes between title contenders Arsenal FC and Manchester City FC were behind the paywall and not free over the air.

To watch MLS – the top-flight league in the U.S. – one must subscribe to MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. This is the first sports league in the U.S. to give one company all the streaming rights for every game this season. The price point for the service is $13, making it the most expensive streaming service for soccer fans.

It’s not just soccer that is dealing with this, sports in general is going through a streaming revolution. Cable gives people more sports channels and the ability to follow their local teams through regional sports networks. Now, with games being put exclusively on certain streaming services, it adds to the cost needed to view these games.

MLB games are getting put behind a paywall through Apple TV+ and Peacock Premium.

The NFL has moved the popular NFL Sunday Ticket over to YouTube TV after 29 years on Direct TV, while a playoff game will be exclusively shown on Peacock Premium.

The NBA provides all out of market games on NBA Season Pass.

Cable is losing its draw due to this, causing a dilemma for those wanting to watch live sports either stay with the current cable plan, subscribe to services instead or pay for both and see the cost of viewing experience skyrocket.

With regional sports networks struggling all across the country, the possibility of having one league fall under one platform could be the norm going forward. The model of MLS and other soccer leagues that are streamed on their own services could soon happen to the other major American sports.

Bally Sports – a regional sports network across America – has filed for bankruptcy while they remain in contracts to broadcast NBA, MLB and NHL in local markets.

With the instability of cable TV and the rise of streaming, it makes it all the more lucrative for sports leagues to want to go the streaming route. MLS and Apple TV agreed on a 10-year, $2.5 billion deal to broadcast matches. Keep in mind, MLS is not one of the top soccer leagues in the world nor is it as popular as the other sports in America. The NBA or MLB could follow this route to capitalize on their product.

While this isn’t the current situation, it seems to be what could happen down the road.

Sports viewing is becoming a frustrating burden on people’s wallet’s now. While it’s great to have options, there are too many for an experience that should be as pleasant and accessible as possible.