The Tampa Bay Rays are in the midst of an intense playoff run, and are poised to play some exciting games in the last month and a half of the season.

But fans who have been watching them on the Dish Network or its streaming service called Sling TV won’t be able to watch any of it because they can no longer tune in Fox Sports, which carries the Rays.

Fans are crying foul and can’t even catch the Rays on the radio, since the local station last year changed its sports-oriented programming to country music.

Customers will no longer have access to the Miami Marlins, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Panthers.

Twenty-one other FOX Regional Sports Network affiliates are affected. 

The satellite service and streaming service and sports affiliate could not reach agreement on pricing. They are blaming each other for the impasse, and the blackout could last awhile.

So, what's a fan to do?

Well, as far as legal options go, DISH subscribers could drop DISH and subscribe to — but they then might run afoul of home-market blackout rules. They could add Spectrum cable. But chances are, if you are a DISH or Sling customer, you wanted to avoid those paying options.

Other than that, though, the only thing to do is wait.

Meanwhile, both sides are playing hardball.

DISH released a statement saying it offered the Fox Regional Sports Networks a short-term extension “in an effort to quickly negotiate a fair, long-term deal for our customers.”

The extension would put a new expiration date up against the 2020 Major League Baseball opening day. 

“They want to use baseball fans as negotiation leverage, while continuing to get paid in the meantime for sports with lower viewership,” DISH said in its statement. “Coming to a fair deal is in the interest of customers, not a nine-month extension that simply puts them in the middle again.”

Fox Regional Sports (FRS) offered this pitch to fans:

“We are disappointed to inform you that despite our repeated efforts over the past several months, DISH and Sling refused to engage in any substantive discussions to reach a new agreement,” FRS said in a statement.”

FOX Sports Florida/FOX Sports Sun “are available on virtually every other Pay TV provider, including your local cable providers, satellite providers and streaming video platforms,” FRS said.

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Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or

(1) comment


All is not lost. Most everyone has internet service to their home in some fashion (Spectrum Internet or CenturyLink DSL) and they can stream all the action on many, many channels, including local) on Hulu.

Good to learn that SlingTV is part of Dish so as I can avoid that like the plague. Also avoiding anything like ATT/DirecTv too.

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