TV Answer Man, I have YouTube TV so we don’t have the Bally Sports channel for our (Milwaukee) Brewers. Do you know when the app for cord cutters will be available and what will it cost? — Justin, Madison, Wisconsin.
Justin, Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said in February that his company would launch a Bally Sports streaming app for cord-cutters in the second quarter of this year. The executive said the initial launch will include at least five Major League Baseball teams (Sinclair now has digital rights deals with Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays) with NHL and NBA teams added in the second half of the year.
The app will allow fans to watch their in-market Bally Sports team, such as the Brewers on Bally Sports Wisconsin, without a subscription to a pay TV service. They would subscribe directly to Bally Sports.
Sinclair hopes to have more MLB teams available on the app at launch.
However, the Kansas City Star recently published comments from Kansas City Royals CEO John Sherman that suggest the Bally Sports launch is not imminent although the second quarter started on April 1. The newspaper quotes a source as saying it won’t be ready until the summer which technically starts in the second quarter, albeit late in the quarter.
The uncertainty over the app’s launch time is accompanied by a bigger question mark regarding its price. Sinclair has not publicly said how much a subscription to one in-market team will cost. (You will only be able to get your in-market Bally Sports team on the app.) That has left it to journalists to offer some possibilities, based on anonymous sources and financial analysis.
The New York Post reported in June 2021 that Sinclair was planning to charge $23 a month for the app. Sinclair swiftly denied that report, but Sports Business Journal recently chimed in with its own prediction that the cost would be north of $20.
That may seem excessive. But consider that DIRECTV Stream, the live streaming service that carries Bally Sports, charges at least $20 a month more for any package that has it included. (Stream’s Choice plan, which has the Bally Sports channels, and other regional sports nets, is $89.99 a month, compared to the $69.99 a month Entertainment base plan, which does not have the Bally Sports channels.)
That should give you an idea of the economics involved in setting the price. Sinclair has to pay a significant amount of money for the rights to the teams’ games and it needs to offset that cost in part via the subscription cost. (The company also sells advertising on the games.)
So, Justin, the odds are good that the price will be in the $18-23 range when the app launches.
Hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann