TV Answer Man, I would like to get Bally Sports Plus directly to watch the (Atlanta) Braves without having to have a cable TV subscription. Do you think Bally Sports Plus will add more baseball teams when it expands its app this fall as they said they would do? — Bob, Atlanta.
Bob, Bally Sports+, a service targeted to sports fans who have cut the cord, launched last June in five markets for $19.99 a month or $189.99 per year.
The service, which includes a seven-day free trial, allows 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 multi-channel live streamer that carries Bally Sports.)
However, two months after launch, it still only includes five of the 14 MLB teams that the Sinclair-owned outfit 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 says the service 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.)
Ripley added last June that he hopes to add more MLB teams when the app expands coverage this fall. However, as of today, Sinclair has not announced additional deals with baseball. It’s possible that the company has more carriage pacts in place but has simply not announced them. But considering that Sinclair has been trying to persuade investors that Bally Sports Plus has a bright future, I doubt that.
Consequently, with the MLB regular season ending in just six weeks, I would bet that Bally Sports only adds the NBA and NHL teams this fall. Once the MLB season is over, the pressure on Sinclair to add more baseball teams eases until the 2023 season. So it’s likely that Sinclair and MLB will postpone serious talks until closer to the season.
The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this situation and report back here if anything changes.
Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann