Phillip Swann, editor of TV Answer Man, and the former editor of TVPredictions.com, is making several predictions for what will happen in the TV technology industry in 2022. His fourth prediction reveals whether Sinclair will successfully launch a standalone Bally Sports app that will not require a pay TV subscription.
Sinclair has promised for more than a year that it will eventually launch a streaming app that would allow you to watch your in-market Bally Sports channel without a subscription to a pay TV service such as cable or satellite.
However, the company has struggled to obtain the digital rights to the games with both MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver publicly expressing concern about the venture’s financing. (Diamond Sports Group operates Bally Sports, but some analysts have speculated that the Sinclair subsidiary may have to enter bankruptcy with the regional sports networks unable to secure carriage deals with such pay TV outfits as Dish, Sling TV, YouTube TV, Hulu Live and FuboTV.)
As of now, Sinclair has the rights to just four of the 14 MLB teams available on the 19 Bally Sports channels and apparently none of the NBA teams. However, Sinclair this month was able to sign a digital rights deal with the NHL for 12 of its teams.
So will the NHL agreement be enough for Sinclair to launch the standalone Bally Sports app by spring 2022, as it has promised?
No, but I think Sinclair will reach a new agreement with the MLB that will allow it to offer all 14 teams in the app by spring. The new agreement will likely include a MLB stake in the venture, but it makes sense for both companies to keep working together. Manfred may have criticized Bally Sports’ financing, but there’s no other company on the horizon that can do what Sinclair is positioned to do in the regional sports category.
Of course, the current MLB lockout could alter this scenario. But assuming the league and the players reach a new deal by spring, Sinclair and the MLB will find common ground as well.
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— Phillip Swann