TV Answer Man, I am beyond frustration because I got YouTube TV and they won’t carry the Bally Sports channel (Bally Sports Midwest) that has the St. Louis Cardinals on. This is crazy. I used to have Dish and they don’t have Bally Sports, either. I like YouTube TV better than Dish and DIRECTV but I want the Cardinals!! Is there any chance of YouTube TV or even Hulu carrying it? I know there’s a separate Bally app now but I don’t want to pay all that money!! — Terry, Clayton, Missouri.
Terry, Sinclair, which owns the 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks (RSNs), did launch a standalone app in June that allows consumers 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.
However, the app only includes five MLB teams now and the St. Louis Cardinals are not among them. (The five teams are the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays.) So even if you wanted to subscribe to the standalone app, which costs $19.99 a month, you couldn’t because the Cards are not included and therefore the app is not available in the St. Louis market. (Sinclair says it hopes to add more MLB teams this fall when it adds 12 NHL and 16 NBA teams.)
So will YouTube TV or Hulu or Dish — or anyone?!! — add Bally Sports anytime soon so you can watch the Cardinals?
Well, for starters, you should know that DIRECTV Stream, DIRECTV and Charter’s Spectrum TV (the biggest cable TV op in the St. Louis market) all carry Bally Sports. But it is true that YouTube TV, FuboTV, Hulu Live and Sling TV do not and they haven’t for a few years.
If you’re looking for an alternative to cable and satellite, and you want Bally Sports, it says here that it’s highly unlikely that those four streamers will add the regional sports networks anytime soon and perhaps ever.
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, which does carry Bally Sports, is able to do so by charging a minimum of $90 a month for packages that include them. But YouTube TV, FuboTV and Hulu Live start with base prices under $70 and they want to keep their basic prices as low as possible to attract cord-cutters.
But if they add Bally Sports, or some other RSNs, they will have to raise prices to the point where non-sports fans would balk.
So YouTube TV, FuboTV, Hulu Live and Sling TV would prefer not to carry Bally Sports even though subscribers in the Bally markets who are sports fans are clamoring for them to do so. The subscriber pressure is the only reason why the streamers could relent at some point.
But with Sinclair now offering a standalone app, the pressure on the streamers is easing because they can tell their customers (in five markets at least) that they can subscribe directly to Bally Sports. Consequently, fans would be less likely to drop YouTube TV or Hulu Live if they don’t carry Bally Sports because they will have an alternative. (Yes, in those five markets.)
Bottom line: If you like YouTube TV, that’s great. But don’t expect to watch the Cardinals until Bally Sports adds the team to its standalone app.
If that happens at all.
Terry, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann