TV Answer Man, I read your prediction about the Bally Sports app, but do you think the streaming companies will add Bally Sports next year. I know that DIRECTV Stream has it, but it’s getting expensive. What about Hulu Live, YouTube or even Sling TV and FuboTV. It would be great if one of the less expensive ones had it. — Jerry, Scottsdale, Arizona.
Jerry, you’re right. Sinclair, which owns the 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks (RSNs), has said it plans to launch a standalone app by spring 2022 that would permit fans to watch their in-market Bally Sports channel without a subscription to cable, satellite or even a streaming service such as YouTube TV or Hulu Live.
I am predicting that the launch will occur, but it’s unclear how the app would cost if it does. The New York Post reported last June that it could be more than $20 a month. If so, that might give some streaming fans reason to pause. At $20 plus a month, added to a $65-70 YouTube TV or Hulu Live sub, the monthly cost would be around $90 a month. (Not coincidentally, that’s what DIRECTV Stream’s RSN package will cost effective next month.)
So it would certainly be easier (and cheaper) for cord-cutters to get their in-market Bally Sports channel with their basic package on Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Sling TV or FuboTV. That’s how cable and satellite services have done it for years. They include the RSN in the bundle, although they charge a regional sports fee of around $10 a month.
But I predict that the non-DIRECTV Stream services will not add Bally Sports in 2022 for the same reason they haven’t added it before: Economics.
Whether it’s Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Sling TV or FuboTV, the streamers’ profit margins are so thin that it’s hard for them to justify paying the regional sports channels, which do charge more than most channels. (DIRECTV Stream is able to do it by charging $90 a month, effective January 23, 2022, for its most popular package with the RSNs.) The streamers are trying to keep their basic prices low as possible to attract cord-cutters. But if they add Bally Sports, or some other RSNs, they would have to raise prices to the point where non-sports fans would balk.
However, that said, the one live streamer that might take a chance on Bally Sports is FuboTV which is investing heavily on in-site gambling. The addition of the Bally Sports channels would certainly help attract the gambling audience. This is why I’ve said here previously that FuboTV is the most likely streaming service to settle with Sinclair.
Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley agrees:
“In terms of Fubo, I do think when you take a look at what they’re doing, I don’t have a particular insight into their business, but (they) are trying different business models that you can see. And so I wouldn’t be surprised to (Fubo) picking up more RSNs (regional sports networks),” Ripley said earlier this year.
Jerry, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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. This is fifth prediction. See his four previous predictions below:
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— Phillip Swann