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Dear Leeder: We should have in-market streaming options

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An open letter to Cyril Leeder, on whatever off-ice topic about the Senators is bugging me lately

Pittsburgh Penguins v Ottawa Senators Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

Dear Cyril Leeder,

You know what would be nice? An in-market online streaming option for watching Senators games.

Out of market streaming is easy - that’s what GameCentre Live is for. It’ll get you most, if not all, of the games. Living within the Senators broadcast region it is possible to watch every single Sens game online (without resorting to questionable methods), but the method to do so is a little absurd.

To watch the games online, first you need to have a TV subscription, and it needs to get you almost all of the games on TV (Sportsnet is the exception - more on that later). Take a moment to let that sentence sink in. Ponder it. Roll it around in your mind. Seems kind of backwards, doesn’t it?

But that’s not enough. You need to have a TV subscription from the right TV provider. If you’re lucky and have the right provider, this is it. Go to the provider’s webpage or app, log in, and you can get to the necessary channels.

Other providers, you need to need to stitch together your sources. That might involve going to the TSN website, the Sportsnet website, and hoping the game isn’t on CBC or City.

Some providers, you’re just out of luck - not every TV provider gives you access to the live streams on those websites.

Watching the games without TV service? Nope. You can get Sportsnet Now for the low, low price of $25/month, but that only gets you the games on Sportsnet. No such option exists for TSN, or CBC, or City.

Cord cutting is becoming a bigger thing these days. As the accessibility of non-sports content becomes easier and easier, it becomes more difficult to justify holding on to a TV subscription just for sports. More so if it’s not for “sports”, but just for the Sens. Recent regulation changes requiring pick & pay (a la carte) channel selection makes it a bit easier, but the price is still way up there. The cheapest anybody is offering TV service that includes TSN and Sportsnet pushes you over $60 per month once you account for all the different costs, fees and taxes. If you’re only getting TV for the sports, that’s not a great value.

That’s almost double the cost of a GameCentre subscription, over the course of the regular season. It’s an even bigger difference compared to the Sens fans in the US that can get the single-team GameCenter subscriptions.

I don’t expect a package that gets us all 82 games (plus playoffs) for $10. That’s silly, and likely impossible to make happen under the current national broadcast deal. So start a little smaller - get a streaming package for the regional TSN games. Similar packages have existed for other teams before - both Toronto and Vancouver had this years ago, with the full season’s worth of regional broadcasts available for $40. I bet a lot of people would pay more than that, too, if it’s the only thing standing in the way of being able to ditch their TV service. The rest of the season can be pieced together with Sportsnet Now (or watching at bars/friends/family) and a set of rabbit ears.

Throw some exclusive SensTV content in (or just early access to some of it), and it could be a great service! I bet it would help keep some younger fans hooked too, the ones that have never bothered with TV subscriptions.

It’s time to make some updates, before a generation of Sens fans used to more options and flexibility from their entertainment just don’t bother with the current cost and hassle of watching at home.