By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, baseball season has started and I don’t want to go back to cable to watch the Padres. Do you know if Bally Sports Plus has the Padres games? Do they have all the MLB teams on there? — Carrie, Chula Vista, California.
Carrie, for those not familiar with Bally Sports Plus app, it’s designed for cord-cutters (like yourself) who don’t want to subscribe to a large bundle of programming from cable, satellite or a live streamer such as YouTube TV or Hulu Live. The app costs $19.99 a month or $189.99 a year, and it streams the live games of 16 NBA and 12 NHL teams.
But to date, Bally Sports Plus has only secured the streaming rights to five MLB teams: Kansas City, Detroit, Miami, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay. The remaining nine teams in Bally markets are not available on the Plus app. They are the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Guardians, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Angels.
Diamond Sports, which runs the 19 cable/satellite Bally Sports channels, is hoping to secure the streaming rights to more teams, but the effort has been complicated by the company’s financial woes which led it to declare bankruptcy earlier this month. Teams are more wary of awarding the rights now because they fear that Diamond may not make its regular rights payments due to the bankruptcy.
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 companies, such as Diamond Sports, 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.
Diamond is in negotiations with the teams and leagues as it tries to sort out life after bankruptcy but it’s unclear if this will ultimately trigger more streaming deals. It’s equally possible that Diamond could go the other way and return the cable/satellite rights back to a few teams. The New York Post has reported the company is contemplating skipping payments to the Cleveland Guardians and Cincinnati Reds, which could result in the teams/league taking back those rights.
The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this rapidly moving situation and report back here if anything significant changes. Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann