Sinclair plans to launch its much anticipated ‘cord-cutter’ service for Bally Sports this Thursday, according to a new report from Sports Business Journal.
The service, called Bally Sports+, will allow fans to subscribe directly to their in-market Bally Sports channel without a subscription to a pay TV service such as cable, satellite or a live streaming provider. (DIRECTV Stream is the only live streamer that carries Bally Sports.)
However, at launch, it will only include five of the 14 MLB teams that Sinclair carries via its Bally Sports channels: Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays.
The company has yet to secure the digital rights to the remaining nine teams: Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Guardians, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Angels.
Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley tells SBJ that it will add 12 NHL teams and 16 NBA teams to Bally Sports+ this fall. (Unlike MLB, Sinclair has obtained the streaming rights for the pro hockey and basketball teams it carries on Bally Sports.)
Sinclair, which has invested heavily in the new service, is under great pressure to sign up the remaining MLB teams, but league Commissioner Rob Manfred seems to be playing hardball.
“We’ve been very clear with them from the beginning that we see both those sets of rights as extraordinarily valuable to baseball, and we’re not just going to throw them in to help Sinclair out,” Manfred told a sports conference in 2021, according to a Sports Business Journal article.
Despite the omissions, Ripley says Bally Sports+ at launch will cost $20 a month or $190 a year. By comparison, NESN’s new service for cord-cutters costs $30 a month while MLB.TV costs $24.99 a month.
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So who’s their target audience? Streamers who dropped cable and satellite because of the high cost of sports programming, or streamers who reject Directv stream to avoid their extra cost for RSN programming? Good luck with that.