TV Answer Man, I don’t understand why Bally Sports Plus can’t show the Texas Rangers games! They have the games on cable so they have the rights. Why can’t they add them to the app, too? This is ridiculous! — Cliff, Fort Worth, Texas.
Cliff, Sinclair announced this week that it will expand availability of its Bally Sports+ cord-cutter app to all 19 Bally markets on September 26. The service, which has been available in five test markets (Kansas City, Detroit, Miami, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay) since June, enables 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.
You would think that means Bally Sports Plus will offer Texas Rangers games (via Bally Sports Southwest) when it expands on September 26. Right?
Although Bally Sports has the pay TV rights (cable, satellite etc.) to the Texas Rangers games, it does not have the team’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) rights. That means it cannot offer Bally Sports Southwest on the Bally Sports app, or at BallySports.com, on September 26.
Sinclair, which owns the Bally Sports channels, says it’s negotiating to obtain the DTC rights for the Rangers and eight other teams (Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Guardians, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Angels.) But the company has provided no timetable for a likely resolution.
This might seem confusing to the average fan. How can a company have the rights to show a team’s games in one way but not another?
Well, welcome to the byzantine world of sports and television licensing. Rights are often separated in a myriad number of ways, leaving programmers, such as Sinclair, scrambling to secure them all if they think they will need them. Content creators, such as baseball teams and cable and premium channels, sometimes force programmers to purchase the rights separately to maximize their return.
By the way, Bally Sports+ costs $19.99 a month or $189.99 per year, but Sinclair says more pricing options will be introduced when the service expands on September 26.
Cliff, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann